In 2011, actor Suhasini Mulay got married to a 65-year-old physicist, Atul Gurtu. But, for some reason, the story started hitting headlines again earlier this month, as the industry celebrated her decision to tie the knot at the age of 60.
In many cases, societal and parental pressures often result in most youngsters getting hitched in their twenties or thirties. But there are several others, who, like the Dil Chahta Hai (2001) and Lagaan (2001) actor, have defied the norm, and taken the plunge on their own terms, and only when they have felt the time is right.
Nathubhai Patel, who runs an organisation called Vina Mulya Amulya Sewa that hosts wedding fairs for senior citizens throughout India, says he has noticed an increase in the number of senior citizens attending his functions. “Though everybody may not find a match immediately, there is always hope for the future. We host marriage programmes for senior citizens all over the country, and because of the awareness created by these events, participation has increased,” he says. Another such body is the Kumar Deshpande Foundation, which is owned by Kumar Deshpande.
Many of these senior citizens prefer getting married in private, and, often, due to the fear of being ostracised by society, refrain from making their marriages public. To understand the motivations and challenges of such alliances, we spoke to two senior couples who not only spoke to us about their marriages, but also posed for photographs. Here are their stories:
‘I was too traumatised to get remarried’
Says Shobha Subhash Limkar (51), who met Subhash Vishnu Limkar (61) at a wedding fair; they got married in 2012
My first marriage lasted for four days. My brother, who was an administration officer at the Yerwada Central Jail at that time, was taking care of me. Because my ex-husband’s relatives troubled me a lot, it took me years to get over all that.
I was too traumatised to get remarried. One marriage had given me so much pain, so I didn’t want to go through it again. My brother told me about a lot of proposals over the next many years, but I was never interested. Then, six years ago, when my parents died, I started thinking about how long could I expect my brother to take care of me. As I grew older, I worried more and more about my future.
Finally, in 2012, I participated in a marriage fair in Pune, where I met Subhash Vishnu Limkar, who is now my husband. He wanted to get married to me, and gave me enough time to decide, lest I regret the decision in the future. A month-and-a-half later, we got married in a temple. There was no wedding reception, but my husband and I took our families into confidence before tying the knot.
This is my husband’s second marriage.
His wife had passed away in 1989; he has two grown-up daughters and a son from her. Earlier, he used to work in the Maharashtra State Police Wireless service. Now, we survive on his pension. I am happy with my married life, and so is my family. My husband, too, is now tension-free.
‘I worried about what people would think’
Says Ramesh Kakade (67), who found a companion in his distant relative, Pushpa R Kakade (63), eight years ago
About 10 years ago, on a rainy day, my wife and I met with a motorcycle accident, in which she lost her life. At that time, I used to work for Tata Power. I am retired now, and I have two daughters from that marriage. One of them is married and lives in Pune, and the other works in Mumbai. After the accident, I got very lonely. It was a difficult period for me.
But I carried on. One day, while I was looking for a match for my older daughter in the matrimonial column of a city newspaper, I ended up reading about a matrimonial agency that helped senior citizens find a match. None of my family members were interested in addressing my issues, or asking me if I wanted to remarry. So, I decided to do something about it on my own. I met an official from the matrimonial agency who had posted the ad, and he told me that he has helped many senior citizens find partners. That chat was a big motivating factor for me. He referred me to a few potential matches, but nothing materialised.
At that time, I would often discuss this topic with a distant relative, Pushpa, whose husband of 25 years had also passed away recently. In one of our conversations, I asked her if she would like to get married to me. Then I also spoke to my elder daughter and sister. My daughter said I should get married, because I have a long way to go in life. I was scared. I was worried about what people would think of me, and whether we, as a couple, would be accepted. But some friends helped me overcome my inhibitions.
I also joined a senior citizens group in Gorai; they told me that, internationally, children of many widowers motivate their parents to get remarried. Even though we had already decided to get married, Pushpa and I attended a marriage fair in Parel, where we spoke on the dais about our decision to tie the knot.
There were many other senior citizens there who wanted to get married; that was a motivating factor too. A few days later, we got married in a temple and then got the registration done. Now, I make it a point to speak at such wedding programmes all over Maharashtra, to motivate senior citizens who might want to get remarried.