St Valentine was in town Monday, clandestinely marrying 18 young couples and offering them the romantic solace of being man and wife — even if they have to live apart for now and their disapproving families have no clue they have tied the knot.
Legend has it that St Valentine was a European priest who was executed some 2000 years ago for secretly marrying innumerable young lovers fleeing disapproving families. On Monday, Bharat Zaveri played that role in Ahmedabad.
Zaveri, who runs a registered trust inside the Ahmedabad Metropolitan Court that marries young Hindu couples, had a busy day on Valentine’s Day — from the average two or three a day, he had to perform 25 wedding ceremonies. Eighteen were without the consent of the couple’s families. Some married out of hope.
“My girl-friend’s parents are opposed to our marriage. And today is Valentine’s Day, the lovers’ day, an auspicious day for marriage. So, we decided to marry with a few friends around,” says Pankaj Patel (name changed), a 25-year-old boy from Bapunagar who got married to 21-year-old Meena (name changed) from the same locality.
Pankaj, understandably anxious to remain anonymous, hopes Meena’s parents would end up accepting their relationship once they find out they are already married.
“We will produce our marriage certificate before them at the right time,” says Pankaj, clean-shaven and with a fresh hair-cut for the occasion. He and Meena are to go back home to their own families for now, to wait for that ‘right time’.
Zaveri agrees with Pankaj: “All the couples who got married were from different upper-caste communities. Generally, parents do not approve of such marriages but, when they discover the marriage has already been solemnised and registered, they accept it. It becomes convenient for the youngsters.”
Zaveri has been providing his service completely professionally under the banner of Shree Ganesh Marriage Point — a registered trust he runs with a fellow lawyer.
There are four such ‘marriage points’ in the area that solemnise marriages of Hindu couples — with all the salient features of a traditional Hindu marriage.
“The other couples who got married with the consent of their parents opt for his organisation with money-saving in mind,” Zaveri says. “Marriage has become a costly affair. So people come to ‘marriage points’ like mine to save money.”