Chief Minister Jayalalithaa on Monday presided over a mass marriage ceremony at Tiruverkadu, a temple town on the outskirts of Chennai. The event, organised by the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR&CE) department is the fifth mega event of this kind held under her government, including those held under previous AIADMK regimes.
As many as 1006 couples got married at Tiruverkadu, famous for its Karumari Amman Temple.
Between 1991 and 1996, the Chief Minister conducted marriages for 2,500 couples in Chidambaram and 5,004 couples in Tiruchi. Her second regime witnessed the mass marriage of 1,008 couples in 2002 and another 1,053 couples in 2003 in Tirverkadu.
“These marriages transcend the barriers of caste and creed,” the Chief Minister said after blessing the couples.
The beneficiaries included 11 differently-abled couples and 611 couples belonging to the Adi Dravidar community, 34 couples from Scheduled Tribes, 183 couples from Most Backward Classes, 132 couples from Backward Classes and 46 from other categories.
Besides ‘mangalsutras’ in gold (four grams) and ‘mettis’ (toe-rings) in silver weighing six grams, the brides and grooms were given 28 types of gifts which included silk saris, dhotis, utensils and ‘kamakshi’ lamps. All the brides and bridegrooms were brought to Tiruverkadu on Saturday evening as the Chief Minister wanted them and their relatives to avoid journeying by night. They came by state transport corporation buses, which were accompanied by a medical team. Though the couples had been selected from all districts, the majority were from Tiruchi and adjoining Srirangam, the constituency of the Chief Minister.
The menu for the marriage — cutlet, milk payasam, chips, sambar, rasam, three types of koottus, appalam — were selected by Ms. Jayalalithaa herself. She also had selected the items for breakfast and other occasions. “Life is a challenge and married life is full of challenges. Those who run away from challenges cannot succeed in life and only those who face them win the race. Society welcomes only those who are prepared to take on challenges,” she said in her address.
Chief Secretary Debendranath Sarangi, Assembly Speaker D. Jayakumar, Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Minister M.S.M. Anandhan and officials of the department participated in the event.
The marriage evoked strong criticism from PMK founder S. Ramadoss, who accused the government of wasting money when innumerable temples in the state lacked resources even for one pooja a day.