Navratri is a special festival for Jigar Soni and his wife Lalita, who met at a garba performance in 2002. As romance brewed, Gujarati boy Jigar wondered how he would introduce Lalita, a Maharashtrian, to his parents. Once again, Navratri came to the rescue.
“I invited Lalita to the garba mandal, which my family and I go to and introduced her to my family as a friend. We danced together and she left a great impression on my parents,” said Jigar. The couple then got engaged the very next year and were married in 2005.
There are several other young couples like Jigar and Lalita, who discover their love for each other during the nine-day festival. “My parents wouldn’t let me socialise at a bar or at parties, but since Navratri is a festival, they allowed me to go,” said Lalita, a Kathak dancer.
Navratri organiser Devendra Joshi seconds Lalita’s view. “We have had so many cases of people meeting for the first time at our mandal and later getting married.”
It’s not just at Navratri events, but even at Durga Puja mandals that alliances are formed. The Bengal Club at Shivaji Park had last year made provisions for people to submit their profiles at the pandal, which were later exchanged with other interested families.
“Everyone knows that parents look for prospective brides and grooms for their children at puja mandals,” said Utpal Chaudheri, member of the Kallol Sarvajanik Puja at Goregaon.