Long before Valentine’s Day caught the imagination of India’s youth, a couple of coastal hamlets on the Mumbai suburbs chose February as the season of love. Everyone in Pachu Bandar and Killa Bunder are either busy honeymooning or celebrating their wedding anniversaries while the rest of India lap up the romantic merchandise.
Every wedding in the two fishing communities in the Vasai area invariably happen on a Sunday in February, be it an arranged marriage, assisted marriage or love marriage. The tradition can be traced back to 105 years and the reasons were purely practical.
The mass weddings helped the fisherfolk save money on all counts. Neighbors often threw a combined party since they had most of the guests in common. The villagers’ combined purchasing power ensured significant discounts on bulk purchases of wedding dresses and accessories.
The villagers rejoice when several couples walk up the aisle in the St Peter’s Church at Koliwada. This time, 22 couple tied the knot in the church, before leading a colorful parade back to their hamlets.
Godson Valentine and Jagruti were among the newlyweds. The college sweethearts who dated for nine years before getting married, are celebrating their honeymoon in Kerala. Royal Pavkar and Reena have a similar story to share. They were seeing each other for eight years.
The backwaters of Alappuzha and the misty valleys of Munnar are favorite destinations for the Koliwada couples. Some others go to the Goan beaches. Wherever they go, they make it a point to return to the village to celebrate Valentine’s Day.
Mass marriages also mean mass anniversaries. Twenty couples celebrated the silver jubilee of their weddings this month. They were felicitated in the church and ushered into the villages with a traditional band.
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