"I could not have even dreamt of such a grand wedding," said Neethumol from Edinjar in Thiruvananthapuram district soon after she got married at a mass wedding, for couples from economically weak families, organised here on Monday by the Ravi Pillai Foundation (RPF).

A much-in-demand beautician doing her bridal make-up, the presence of many VIPs and a huge gathering to give her their blessings, were the bonuses. “I now look forward to a married life as grand as the wedding,” says the new bride.

At the function, 107 couples — Hindu, Muslim and Christian — got married. While all the 107 brides were from Kerala, three grooms were Tamil Nadu. The nuptials were held at a ‘muhoortham' between 11.30 a.m. and 12 noon on a mammoth ‘kadir mandapam.'

The couples began arriving at the ‘mandapam' by 10.15 a.m. The grooms, clad in white dhoti and shirt, carried the ‘manthrakodi' and the ‘tali.' The brides wore either blue or maroon saris. Christian brides wore veils and carried bouquets. The programme began with musical concerts by playback singer M.G. Sreekumar and the septuagenarian ‘mridangam' expert Umayalpuram Sivaraman. Union Minister for Heavy Industries and Public Enterprise Vilasrao Deshmukh, who was the chief guest, said that RPF managing trustee B. Ravi Pillai was not only getting the 107 couples married but was also providing a livelihood for the new families. A message from the President Prathiba Patil was also read at the function. The function was inaugurated by Union Minster for Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi. The thali and the garlands were handed over to the couples by the VIPs present. Physically challenged groom Sunil from Varkala and Thankamani from Cherunniyoor were first couple to exchange garlands.

Mr. Pillai said that he wanted the event to be as grand as the wedding he plans for his daughter. Ministers M.A. Baby and N.K. Premachandran, Leader of the Opposition Oomen Chandy, KPCC president Ramesh Chennithala, poet Sugatha Kumari, BJP leader C.K. Padmanabhan, actor Mukesh and IUML leader P.K. Kunhalikutty were present. Mr. Pillai handed over a cheque for Rs.10 lakh to Sugatha Kumari for Abhaya, the home for the destitute children managed by the poet.