On February 9, Dignity Foundation had organised an event called ‘Companionship Carnival’ in Mumbai and expected over 300 to 400 people as attendees. However to their surprise, over 500 senior citizens turned up for the event started on the view that ‘it is okay to seek and find a companion at a later stage in life if you have lost a partner’. The event, organised in association with Gyan Adab, will be again held on February 12 at Gyan Adab.
According to Vaishali Desai, honorary coordinator of Dignity Foundation, an organisation that works for the cause and care of the senior citizens, “We often come across elderly people who have lost their spouse and lead lonely lives. Most of them become dependent on their children and have no option but to take care of their grandchildren. Times have changed. Not everyone seeks to lead a life this way. Elderly people, especially those who are fit and active, do wish to go out, meet people, make friends, watch films, go on outings and so on. So the idea of ‘Companionship Carnival’ is to germinate the thought that ‘there’s no problem in seeking a companion if you have lost your partner and are elderly.”
Companionship Carnival will also witness informative talks by legal expert Samuel Waghchaure and psychotherapist Parul Khona on the legal and psychological implications of marriage at a later age in life. Besides, the event will be alive with a music session, interactive games, a poetry reading session, a fashion show and refreshments. Entry is free for 50-plus persons and the dress code is the attendee’s traditional community or national attire.
The concept of finding a companion either for marriage or for live-in, according to Desai, is common in the Western countries, but is yet to find an acceptance in ours. So what’s stopping the senior citizens from taking the plunge? One of the guests of honour at the Mumbai event was lyricist Sameer. He summed it up in just one line – “Sab jagah ek hi rog, kya kahenge log (Everywhere just one disease, what will the society say).”
“It becomes all the more difficult for senior citizens to go for it when they are living with their families. Those who are staying independently and are financially sound, find it easier to take a decision,” said Desai, adding that if one was opting for a marriage, one must be flexible to make several adjustments, emotionally as well as legally. Desai said that people and their mindsets were changing in the society, though at a slow pace. It would take another 15 to 20 years for this concept to be considered as ‘normal’, she added.