Three bridegrooms in Bihar returned home dejected in 24 hours after their brides turned them away as "unsuitable".
Sanju Kumari (name changed), resident of Koraiya village in Saran district, refused to marry Dharamnath Mahto, in his mid-20s, after she noticed that his fingers were disfigured.
"She was adamant she would not to marry him when she saw his fingers the first time, just minutes before the marriage was to be solemnised," a local police official said.
Some elderly villagers intervened on behalf of the young groom, but the bride was unmoved.
Upset, Mahto returned home a bachelor Sunday.
In another case, a bride in Baryarpur village in Siwan district stunned wedding guests when she refused to go ahead with the marriage ceremonies.
"The girl was told by friends that her groom, Durga Singh, was neither good looking nor suitable. She refused to go ahead with the marriage just minutes after the groom arrived at the marriage mandap," a surprised police official said.
Singh also returned without his bride.
In a third case, the bride discovered that the man who arrived as the bridegroom in Belhan village in Rohtas district was not the one she had earlier agreed to marry.
Interestingly, the decision of all three girls found support from families and other residents of their respective villages, policemen said.
Last year, several such cases were reported from various villages across the state.
The three stories in just 24 hours represent a new trend in the state -- such stories were virtually unheard of a few years ago. The pattern in large swathes of Bihar, particularly in the villages, was, and still is, that brides are spurned - not the grooms - for reasons such as insufficient dowry or the darker shade of her skin.
"Thanks to empowerment, girls have changed for good in Bihar. Till a few years ago, it was rare for a woman to spurn a groom chosen for her," said Kanchan Bala, a women's rights activist.
In the last few years, several schemes for the empowerment of women have been launched by the state and central governments.