They take their vows in silence

They take their vows in silence

They take their vows in silence

Made for each other: Couples tie knots at the 10th edition of Swayamwara 2010.

They cannot use the mobile phone, the newest gadget used by the masses. Yet they speak in a language which is universal. Between and amongst hearing impaired people there is no caste, religion or any such barrier. Yet to unite two eligible hearing impaired persons in marriage is a difficult task.

This cold season will be a warm one for many lucky couples, who otherwise live in a silent world. The 11th edition of Swayamwara 2011, a matrimonial meet exclusively for hearing impaired couples, will be held from December 23 to 25 in Bangalore. And going by the past record the event will end in wedlock for many couples.  Boarding, lodging and marriage expenses are all taken care by the Trust during the Swayamwara.

Over the past 10 years 1,700 hearing impaired couples have been united in wedlock. Out of these over 80 Muslim couples and 68 Christians were also married according to their own religious customs. Inter-state, inter-caste, inter-religion and inter-linguistic marriages have taken place during these 10 swayamwaras.

Even hearing impaired orphan girls from Government Women’s Home got married during the swayamwaras.  All the married hearing impaired couples are living happily and have given birth to around 600 normal children. The education of some of these children from poor families is even sponsored by the Trust.

“I have always felt that I was born to do this work”, says C N Vijayaraj, Founder-Secretary of Swayamwara Trust, which has been working for the welfare of the hearing impaired. He was a prosperous businessman before he took up philanthropy.

This silent revolution was born after he was invited by Association of Hearing Disabled Citizens of Karnataka to attend a function in 2000. He felt that he should do something to this community who suffered in silence.

Their major problems, he realised, was finding a job and a spouse. He embarked upon a mission to help them. He began by helping them to get identity cards, bus passes and jobs. Soon more and more hearing impaired people started looking up to him for help.

A few months later, he organised a matrimonial meet, Swayamwara, exclusively for the hearing impaired. Organised for 10 consecutive years, it has become a full-fledged movement bringing hope to those who have exhausted the scope for conventional marriage. Hearing-impaired people from all over the country participate in these Swayamwaras. In many cases the Swayamwara Trust foots the travel bills of the participants. Participants include people from Odisha, Pune, Mumbai, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and various parts of Karnataka.

Says Vijayaraj: “Swayam­wara is a common platform for members of the hearing impaired community and dowry is strictly prohibited. Besides, all marriages have to be registered with the sub-registrar. Some of the participants are highly qualified and are professionals like software engineers.”

This year the event will be held at a kalyana mantap in Indiranagar.

On December 23 and 24 there will be selection of spouses in the presence of families. The selected couples will tie the knot on December 25 followed by marriage registration on December 26 at the sub-registrar’s office in Bangalore. Applicants can come directly to the venue with parents or guardians. C N Vijayaraj can be contacted on 9019474046.

While television channels have made a mockery of Swayamwara, a hallowed Indian tradition, this annual event has salvaged its sanctity.

How do you applaud this venture in sign language? Raise your arms with open palms and shake all your fingers.

This is how hearing impaired persons applaud.