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PALANPUR, India Reuters - A village in Gujarat hosted a mass wedding and engagement ceremony of 21 girls on Sunday aimed at breaking a tradition of prostitution which has for centuries exploited women of a poor, marginalised and once nomadic community in the region.
Hundreds of guests from surrounding villages and government officials gathered at the colourful event, which saw eight couples married and 13 others engaged in a huge marquee in Wadia village, km 70 miles west of Palanpur city in Gujarat. They did not think they were doing anything wrong. Once a girl is married, she is out of the profession. Once she is even engaged, she is out of this nexus. Local people from mud-and-brick Wadia village are reluctant to talk about the issue, fearing discrimination against them in this conservative and largely patriarchal country.
We have been doing agriculture and farming castor seeds and now are earning more money. At the ceremony, musicians played the dhol and shehnai, the traditional drum and trumpet used in weddings, as the eight marrying couples simultaneously placed garlands over one another and walked around a sacred fire placed in front of them, as per Hindu tradition.
Thirteen couples as young as 12 were also engaged during the ceremony, exchanging rings in the incense-filled tent, as a priest gave instructions from a microphone. Their parents said their weddings would take place when they turn This will end this cycle.
No woman wants to do this by choice. Discover Thomson Reuters. Directory of sites. Top News. Nita Bhalla. Brides from the Saraniya community with their faces covered, walk towards the venue for rituals on the eve of their wedding at Vadia village in Gujarat March 10, Editing by Karolina Tagaris.