KARACHI: As many as 72 Hindu couples joined in matrimony during a mass wedding ceremony organised by the Pakistan Hindu Council (PHC) at the Railway Ground here on Sunday evening.
Every year, for the last 14 years, MNA Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankvani, who is also the PHC patron-in-chief, has been organising mass weddings for poor Hindu couples who cannot afford a big wedding for themselves on the their own.
The couples in their wedding finery reached the ground by afternoon and sat waiting in 10 by 10 feet wide enclosures, or mandap as they are called, in two long rows inside one huge white tent. They were there with their parents, siblings, their families. In the front of the huge tent was a stage where the model couple were to be married and who the rest in their enclosures were to follow every step of the way by watching on two big screens placed on either side of the aisles.
Most of the couples had travelled from Sindh. There were couples from Tando Allahyar, Mithi, Mirpukhas, Hyderabad, etc. There were also many who belonged to Karachi.
Laxman wore a heavy triangular mirrored crown on his head as he sat next to his bride to be Mehek in her pretty golden wedding dress. Laxman’s mother said that this was the first wedding in her family as he was her eldest son. Meanwhile, Mehek’s sister, sitting next to her, informed that everyone on their side were already married as Mehek was the youngest in their family.
Laxman said that he was happy that such mass wedding can be arranged for people like himself. “I work as a packer boy in a mobile phone company in Korangi. If left to me, I would have had to wait for several more years to save up and get married,” he said.
Vickey and Nandni belonged to Ibrahim Hyderi. Vicky said that he worked as a sweeper with the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation. “We have been engaged for three years. I have been trying to save up ever since our engagement but it was not enough. Finally, we decided to get married in a mass wedding,” said Vicky.
Nandni’s mother had her youngest child, five month old Krishan in her lap. Her eyes grew moist as someone said that the bride was going to miss her baby brother. “But this is life. Daughters have to leave their parents home. I will also miss my daughter, we all will,” she said.
Soon it was announced that they were going to begin the wedding. Mahraj Pandit Jai Kumar Trivedi started preparing the sacred fire around which the model couple were to make seven circumambulations. He explained that during the circumambulations or phere, as they are called, three times the bride is ahead of the groom and then four times the groom takes the lead after which he applies traditional sindhoor or red powder in her hair parting and on her forehead as he puts the mangalsutra or holy thread around her neck.
Other rituals include the reading of the mantra by the pandit, lighting of incense sticks, and feeding ghee to the fire along with breaking of the coconut.
Sunil and Sapna were the lucky couple called out from mandap number one to come up on the stage as the model groom and bride. Suddenly all eye were on the highly conscious groom in a glittery white sherwani and maroon churidaar pajama. He was also holding a sword to protect his beautiful bride in a black and gold sari with a red and green chunari over her head. She sat down next to him with eyes gazing thoughtfully downwards and her henna decorated arms with golden bangles delicately crossed over her lap.
After the wedding each couple was presented with pure silver jewellery, crockery and cooking pots and utensils along with a cheque to help them begin their new life.
MPA Mangla Sharma and several champions of interfaith harmony and minority rights also graced the occasion.
Published in Dawn, January 10th, 2022