Mumbai: It would have been yet another big fat Indian wedding, but Manoj Patil and Sarita Laykar chose to think thin. The couple, both police officers, tied the knot in a low-key ceremony on April 28 at Narsobachi Wadi, a pilgrimage site in Kolhapur district, and donated the money saved to charity.
All plans for a grand wedding were nixed when Mr. Patil, a Police Sub-Inspector (PSI) currently attached to the Marine Drive police station in the city, and Ms. Laykar, also a PSI but posted in Sangli, met unchaperoned for the first time. A couple of days earlier, they had been introduced to each other as prospective matches by their families.
The second meeting
Weddings had always been ostentatious affairs in Panhala, Kolhapur where Mr. Patil grew up, but he developed a healthy dislike for the long, noisy processions, the lavish feasts and alcohol-fuelled mirth. Though he had liked Ms. Laykar in their first meeting, he wanted her to know about his views on wedding extravagance.
“Manoj called me two days after he visited my house with his family, and asked to meet. Curious, I agreed. I was left astonished by what he told me as I, too, have grown up seeing lavish weddings. He left it to me to decide how our wedding should be, and when I put the idea to my family, they liked it too,” Ms. Laykar, now Ms. Patil, said.
Mr. Patil also made it clear that he was completely against the dowry system, which endeared him all the more to the Laykars given most Maratha families believe in giving and accepting dowry as a norm.
“I have three older sisters, and I have seen ow much effort my parents put in for their weddings. I was clear that my wedding would neither be lavish, nor would it involve dowry. My father, a retired serviceman, supported me.”
In keeping with the couple’s wishes, the wedding was attended only by close family and friends.
Each guest received a plant as return gift, and were asked to plant it wherever they could. The newly-weds also pooled their savings — ₹1 lakh each — and donated it to several causes.
Naam Foundation, which works with farmers and families of martyred defence personnel, received ₹50,000 while the high school in Dewle village, where Mr. Patil grew up, was given ₹30,000, as was the gram panchayat’s canal project.
The couple also donated ₹10,000 to the village’s Hanuman temple and ₹5,000 to a public library in Patne village in Kolhapur district.
“₹50,000 is still with us. We have asked our superior officers for ideas on how best to donate this,” Mr. Patil said. Ms. Patil added, “We will continue to donate to charities in the future. I am happy to be doing this work with Manoj.”
The couple’s decision to keep their wedding simple was met with support from the police top brass.
“Mr. Patil is a very good officer and has a bright future,” DCP (Zone I) Manoj Kumar Sharma, his superior officer, said.
Joint Commissioner of Police (Law and Order) Deven Bharti added, “It is heartening to see our young officers breaking free of age-old practices and thinking about society even in an important decision like marriage. We hope their actions will inspire others to act in a similar manner so that we can hope to leave the world a better place for our future generations.”