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Marriages with a difference
Shatarupa in Paradsinga, near Nagpur | May 26, 2003 20:00 IST
Strains of shehnai, sprinkling of the auspicious rice confetti and the red-gold hue of the setting sun in the tiny village of Paradsinga in Maharashtra saw Dr Puja Deshmukh marry Dr Manoj Patel on Sunday.
A typical Indian wedding, all would agree, had it not been for the presence of over 40,000 guests, half the state government Cabinet led by Deputy Chief Minister Chhagan Bhujbal and a simultaneous solemnisation of as many as 74 other marriages.
Dr Puja is the daughter of Minister for Central Excise, Anil Deshmukh, and niece of Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee president Ranjit Deshmukh.
The marriages -- twelve scheduled caste, four inter-caste, 58 others and one Muslim -- were held on a huge dais. A Muslim wedding at a mass marriage function was said to be the first of its kind.
A Buddhist priest first solemnised the wedding of the SC couples according to dhamma rituals. This was followed by the nikah and the Hindu mangalashtak as a sea of humanity spread over 12 pandals witnessed the entire event.
The gifts for the newlyweds were also innovative. Apart from Rs 2,000 worth of household utensils, each couple was gifted a copy of the Gramgeeta – an odyssey of simple, patriotic, community living by Saint Tukdoji Maharaj.
Even the mangalashtak was specially composed to inspire the young men and women to join hands to remove communalism and promote nation building. The same food was served to everyone -– right from the onlookers to the ministers.
Deshmukh, who organised the event through the Maratha Lancers and the Vasantrao Deshmukh Pratishthan, said he wanted to send a social message, plus include his village and his people in his daughter's celebration.
The ill of dowry was also addressed through this event.
In order to keep the spirit of the programme intact, there were no invitation cards. Instead, advertisements were inserted in newspapers inviting people to witness the event. Unlike other weddings, social messages were read out instead of film songs.
But what made it memorable were the thousands who turned up.
Critics called it a political gimmick, what with the huge gates erected all along the road to the village, the pressing of the government machinery into action, the presence of so many Cabinet ministers, including Bhujbal and Deputy Speaker of the Legislative Council, Vasant Daokhare. But no one could deny that it was indeed different.
More reports from Maharashtra
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