A retired Government of India (GoI) official, past 60 years of age, walked into the Jalaram Bhavan here after he had obliged a girl at the entrance seeking his registration details.
As he sat down on a chair on the left side of the hall, reserved for men, he quickly scanned through the right side. It was reserved for women.
“Sir, you have not mentioned your age,” one of the girls from the registration counter screamed to get another man’s attention. This 54-year-old had hurriedly made his entry, waving bye to a younger man who had dropped him to the venue in Rajajinagar.
The third edition of Sangati Vedike’s initiative to match senior citizens with suitable partners saw good response, with many people turning up for the event. But, many of them felt that there needs to be a change in the mindset of the society.
For a country that still scoffs at the mere mention of remarriage, even if the girl has just gotten out of her teens, a room full of aspirants, mostly senior citizens, seemed odd to many, including those who had come there with hopes of finding a partner.
But there they were, some in well-pressed cotton saris, a few others in churidars, some with a smile epitomising shyness and some others plain embarrassed. Some formally educated, many not.
The retired GoI official Mahesh Kumar (name changed) said: “Do not name me. There are a lot of issues we have to deal with. While such programmes are welcome and it is good to have a forum, it will all be futile if the society’s mindset does not change.”
A father of two sons, one studying business management and another pursuing engineering, Kumar says some of the primary oppositions are raised at home.
“Children want what they want. They do not understand the needs of single parents,” he said, adding that he had lost his wife in an accident many years ago.
Shanta Kotreshi, one of the organisers, said: “In the last three years of this programme, we have seen over 600 people registering with us and we have managed to get 50 to 60 couples married. It is working. Yes, we will be happy to see these numbers increase.”
The initiative is in collaboration with the Senior Citizens’ Marriage Bureau, Ahmedabad.
Srilakshmi, 58, said: “Having been a teacher all my life, it is still difficult to comprehend how to imbibe such things into people. The first reaction to my proposal that I want to get married was opposition. But I have made my decision and I will stick to it.”
Even Srilakshmi was not comfortable using her real name. Out of the 10 to 15 people Deccan Herald spoke to at the ‘swayamvar,’ most of them had not informed their families about their decision and were apprehensive to speak on the subject. But they were all there, filling up forms in hope.
Jyoti Trivedi, another organiser, said: “We started off as a forum to match senior citizens with partners and the focus was on second marriages. But, now we just do matching making, regardless of the age, caste or other things.”