In pics: Gujarat diamond trader hosts wedding for 151 couples | india | Hindustan Times
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In pics: Gujarat diamond trader hosts wedding for 151 couples

india Updated: Dec 07, 2015 20:04 IST
AP
diamond trader

Indian brides sit for a group photo before a mass wedding hosted by a diamond trader in Surat.(AP)

With the brides dressed in traditional red and gold embroidered saris and the grooms wearing long tunics and turbans, 151 young couples tied the knot at a mass wedding in Gujarat on Sunday.

The nuptials were hosted by Mahesh Savani, an Indian diamond trader who has been paying for the weddings of fatherless women in the city of Surat for several years.

Diamond trader Mahesh Savani, center right, gives gifts to bride Nagmabegum Qadri during a mass wedding hosted by him in Surat. (AP)

“Only someone who has lost her father can understand how much a girl needs her dad on her wedding day,” said Vimla Koringa, 27, as she waited for her wedding ceremony to begin.

Savani said he first stepped in to play the role of the father in 2008, when one of his employees died a few days before the weddings of his two daughters.

Diamond trader Mahesh Savani, top center wearing white, poses for a group photo along with brides before mass wedding hosted by him in Surat. (AP)
Brides sit for a group photo before a mass wedding hosted by a diamond trader in Surat. (AP)

Bride Vimla Koringa waits for transport before a mass wedding hosted by a diamond trader in Surat. (AP)

Every year since then, Savani has paid for the weddings of young women from poor families who have lost their fathers.

Weddings in India are expensive affairs, with the bride’s family traditionally expected to pay the groom a large dowry of cash and gifts. Hundreds of people, mostly family members and neighbors of the couple, are hosted at lavish meals over a number of days, adding to the cost.

Brides leave after a group photo before a mass wedding hosted by a diamond trader in Surat. (AP)

Bride Nagmabegum Qadri looks during a group photo session before a mass wedding hosted by a diamond trader in Surat. (AP)

Bride Riddhi Saiyad weds groom Vijay Moradiya, during a mass wedding hosted by a diamond trader in Surat. (AP)

Savani said the wedding and gifts for the 151 couples would cost more than 50 million rupees ($750,000), with around 100,000 guests joining in the three days of festivities that ended Sunday. The sprawling school ground where the mass wedding was held was decorated with flowers and lights.

“I see this as something sacred, so I am not counting the expense,” Savani said.

The businessman, who has made his fortune in diamond trading and real estate, said he saw himself as a “foster father” to the young women. He gave each of the brides gold jewelry, clothes, and pots and pans to set up her new home, much like the dowry given in traditional Indian weddings.

A bride and a groom, center perform rituals during a mass wedding. (AP)
Bride Mittal Gondaliya, center right, and groom Pankaj Nasit perform rituals during a mass wedding. (AP)
Riddhi Saiyad, left and groom Vijay Moradiya sit for a marriage ritual. (AP)

The brides praised Savani’s efforts.

“Ever since my father died two years ago, my mother has worried about my wedding and how to raise money for the expenses,” said 23-year-old Meetal Gondalia. “Savani Papa has eased all her worries.”