Twenty-five mandaps were arranged around a raised platform. The purohit spoke into a public address system while the bride and groom followed his instructions.
What made the occasion momentous for 20 Hindu families who had travelled to Karachi for Saturday’s mass wedding at the Swami Narayan Mandir was the incentive— they didn’t have to pay a single paisa. The Pakistan Hindu Council picked the tab.
Eighteen years after social worker Shamji Bijalo married off his Karachi-born daughter to cousins in Jamnagar, Gujarat, she was back in the port city.
This time, Bijalo’s grandson Manesh Manoharlal Dru, a daily wages labourer in Jamnagar, was accompanying her. Dru was in Karachi to marry 18-year-old Kanda Bai, a distant cousin. “My daughter was looking for a Karachi girl for a bahu,” says
Bijalo, a former employee of the Karachi Water Board.
In another mandap sat a Bheel family from Umarkot, Sindh, accompanied by family friend Husain Ali Shah. “I have come with my neighbours to offer moral support,” says Shah, a landlord.
Husain Ali, from a Syed family, said his presence means the world to the Hindus he accompanied. “In the eyes of God, we are all one.”
The Council, a representative body of Hindus, said the initiative will help hundreds of lower income families living in Karachi and other parts of Sindh survive the inflationary conditions in Pakistan.
Spiralling prices of essential commodities and expenses had forced many to put off their children’s weddings.
Said Bijal: “Never in my life have I seen such a good gesture. I have saved over Rs 150, 000.”