Although marriage isn’t as popular nowadays as it used to be, there still remain billions of lovers worldwide who desire nothing more than to get hitched to their beau.
Unfortunately, marriage isn’t an option for a multitude of these people, especially those from third-world countries, because they just can’t afford it.
Consider the poor inhabitants of India, for instance. A Hindu wedding ceremony is an extremely complicated procedure involving approximately 21 separate pre-marriage, during-marriage, and post-marriage events like Mamara, Baasi-Jawari, and Darshan.
The actual rituals and their names vary according to specific family traditions, but what doesn’t vary is the price.
According to Indian wedding planners, the minimum budget for a Hindu wedding is approximately 1.7 million Rupees (34,000 USD). However, the average Indian employee makes only 25,000 Rupees (500 USD) per year, which isn’t nearly enough for a proper wedding.
To alleviate this situation, the Tirumala-Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD)—an independent organization that manages the Venkateswara Temple in Andrah Pradesh—has initiated the ‘Kalyanamastu Programme,’ a scheme designed to assist poor Hindus in their quest for marriage.
The TTD has married over 27,000 couples, in four different phases, since the programme’s inception in 2007, an impressive feat that has cost them over Rs 15 crore, which is equivalent to more than 150 million Rupees.
In anticipation of the next phase, the TTD recently released 21.4 million Rupees to all local districts in Andrah Pradesh, except for Guntur, Kurnool, Krishna, and Mahabubnagar—all of which are all still recovering from the devastating floods of October.
The fifth and largest phase of the Kalyanamastu Programme officially kicked off on December 9th, when 7700 couples from all across Andrah Pradesh exchanged vows between 9:20am and 9:32am at major district headquarters and cities.
Despite the overall high turnout, members of TTD were disappointed at the lack of interest from Andrah Pradesh’s poorer districts. District Officer P. V. Nagaraju echoed these concerns, saying, “Though we have taken up this holy programme to reduce the economic burden on poor people, they are not coming forward to utilize the opportunity.”
7700 couples may seem like a lot to the average person, but remember that India houses a population of over 1.3 billion residents.