Over 300 men and some 70 women from across the country had gathered at the Mehndi Nawaz Jung Hall in Paldi here for the event, with participants aged between 50 and 83 years coming from as far away as Assam and Delhi.
Vina Mulya Amulya Seva (VMAS), the charitable trust which had organised this ‘Senior Citizen Live-in Relationship Sammelan’, had laid down strict rules to ensure that the platform was not used to exploit vulnerable women.
“We have organised several alliance meets where senior citizens could find spouses; in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Rajasthan. But this is the first time we have organised a meet for those wanting to enter into a live-in relationship,” said Natu Patel of VMAS.
Patel said the inspiration for this meet came to him after the Supreme Court held in a judgement that live-in relationships are not illegal. The organisers would be monitoring the relationship status of the couples in future, and if required, would also make the men make a security deposit to ensure that the women do not get exploited.
Gulshanrai Monga (63), a divorcee from Assam, was lucky to find a live-in partner in Jagruti Wadhvana (46), also a divorcee, from Viramgam taluk of Gujarat. Monga runs a school in Silchar. he and his wife separated 20 years ago, with no children. Wadhvana said she was looking for a partner who could also take the responsibility of her two children.
She chose Monga, as he was financially stable. Asked if marriage was on the cards, Monga said it was “a distant thing”, first he would like to know the other person well.
Another man who found a partner is a doctor from Bangalore, Dr Ramesh K (57), a widower. He and Sona Gandhi (43), a divorcee, have decided to live together. Gandhi said she wanted a live-in relationship, having burnt fingers in her marriage. “Once bitten twice shy,” she added. Ramesh’s two children are settled; he lives alone.
Jyotsna Dave (53) found a would-be live-in partner in Natu Thakkar (60), a rice mill owner from Bavla taluk, said, “At this age, sex is not a consideration. What one seeks is the warmth and the companionship.”
Some others were not as lucky, but were hopeful that they would be lucky next time. Kesar Singh (63), a software firm employee from Delhi, said, “I had come to find a partner as I am alone now. All my three children are married and settled.”
Hussain Baghban (65), a steel trader from Sarkhej, too did not find a partner. He said he was looking for a spouse, as live-in relationship was against Islam.