As a Sikh girl I had been told traditionally that when I get married I have to give dowry and then also pay for the entire wedding ceremony and the lunch thereafter. But growing up there have been many changes and most importantly that dowry has been dropped and the lunch costs shared between both parties. However the Shree Cutchi Leva Patel Community extends this further by doing a mass wedding annually. The bride or groom comes from as far as Uganda, Tanzania, India, UK and more. Last year they hosted up to 40 couples and this year 24 as it was brought forward from the month of August to April due to General Election dates. Now setting up such a setting is a major task and requires nearly two months of preparation which starts with the vetting of the background and verification of legal documents of the man and woman. The entire ceremony then takes up to 6 hours and nearly ten to fifteen priests which conduct the rituals to the tee. Sometimes the couples get engaged here or have done so at their respective homes. From the scale of the attendance from relatives, friends and the community from over 7000 you can guess that it takes a large team of hundreds of volunteers to manage everything from security, ushers and the kitchen. All the meals were cooked in house and served by a team of volunteers from the Shree Cutchi Leva Patel Youth League. There is nothing short of efficiency and ample organization that you see every step of the way and hats of to the community for managing it and doing it humbly and respectfully. Financial donations are voluntary and add up to about 2.5million shillings, the couples getting married and their families donate as they wish as everything is paid for by the community and its committee.
For Nairobi this was the 18th year running for the mass wedding ceremony and it was repeated from its origin Kutch. Kutch is in Gujarat and a relatively dry area with a cluster of villages and so in the 1990s the community decided why not create a mass wedding for its boys and girls especially with the tough economic and financial conditions and assist the families achieve this task more easily. Yes there is hardly any form of intimacy for the couple or the families involved during the ceremony but the bigger picture is that you are part of the bigger community and sharing is caring.