As many in the village were still sleeping, four cars pulled up near residence of Prabhu Gami, a farmer in Vanaliya village of Morbi district, at 5.30 am on Friday. They were ferrying two different marriage parties, one led by Divyesh Kundariya and the other by Jaydeep Kaila.
Instead of being directed to an utaro (a venue for bride groom and those part of marriage procession to put up), they were directly welcomed at the brides’ home where two mandaps had been erected for the twin marriage ceremonies. Instead of customary handshake, the marriage party was welcomed with hand sanitisers. No elaborate feast was there. Cups of tea and glasses of lemonade were the only treat thrown for the marriage revellers.
Jaydeep’s baraat had his parents, his sister, her husband, a cousin and elder brother of his father. Similar was the case of Divyesh.
There was no singing or dancing or loud music. Entire ritual was wound up within four hours. At 9.30 am, the marriage processions started their return journey to Ghuntu and Talaviya Sanala respectively with brides Arti and Krishna, daughters of Prabhu Gami.
At 12.30 pm, the brides’ family members set out for Ghuntu and Talaviya Sanala, around 18 and 22 km away respectively from Vanaliya and brought Arti and Krishna back to Vanaliya as part of Vavnu, a custom where normally the bride’s family would visit the groom’s family a couple of days or more after the wedding day.
During Vavnu, the groom’s family usually throws a lavish treat for the guests before newly-wed women return to their parents’ home for the first time after marriage.
Hardly had the two women reached their home in Vanaliya, the grooms’ family members knocked on their doors at around 4 pm and they travelled back to their in-laws’ home.
This the new wedding protocol post Covid-19 among the Kadva Patidars, a close knit Patidar sect considered very orthodox. And this is the way weddings are happening in Morbi district for the past one month during lockdown which also covered a peak marriage season. Numbers of marriage ceremonies that have taken place in the district suggest that more and more people are liking it, said Morbi district collector Jayanti Patel.
“We have received 385 applications for organising marriage during lockdown and we granted condition that maximum 40 people would attend the ceremony and that social distancing would be maintained. Out of them, 355 marriages have already taken place, while remaining 30 will be organised in coming days. Community leaders have been welcoming these simple ceremonies as they are cost-effective. They are hailing them as the way forward,” Patel told The Indian Express.
The collector further said that people of all walks of life are embracing this form of marriage which reduces the ceremony to a very private affair. “People in Morbi district are generally better off. But now, many are going for these truncated marriage ceremonies minus pomp. A leading industrialist who runs a ceramic tile manufacturing factory has also applied to organise his daughter’s marriage in this simple way,” Patel added.
Prabu Gami agreed. “This is even better than mass marriage ceremonies in terms of reducing wasteful expenditure. It helped that our vevais (bride grooms families) took the initiative and suggested that we organise simple and small marriage ceremonies,” said Gami.
Kaila, ceramic tile marketing professional, said he had no complaints. “While it is true that some of my plans for marriage had to be redrawn. But it was a very cost-effective affair which is very much in order in times of this pandemic, resultant lockdown and uncertainties associated with them. Such ceremonies break the belief that marriage ceremonies remain incomplete without certain celebrations,” said the 23-year-old who holds a degree in science.
Govind Gami, a retired agriculture assistant with state government who has been doing social service, said the marriages during lockdown would help their efforts to persuade people to avoid wasteful expenditure on lavish weddings.
“We have been able to convince Patidar families to convert betrothal ceremonies into marriage ceremonies on 400 occasions in the past one year. The marriages during lockdown are very slim affairs and may not find traction in the society. But we believe a trend has been set to reduce marriages to a one-day affair instead of three days. One hundred guests are acceptable from either side and a marriage banquet for 200 people is much more manageable than one for 1,000,” said Gami.
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