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Wednesday, 9 January, 2002, 13:46 GMT
Mass marriage for Rajasthan Muslims
Indian bides
Parents are inspired by the idea of mass marriages
By the BBC's Narayan Bareth in Jaipur

Marriage is a costly affair in India - but Muslims in the western state of Rajasthan have found a way out.

Parents are now turning to the idea of mass marriages where many couples tie the knot under the same roof at the same time.

Such ceremonies are organised by community groups and they help parents spread the cost.

The Muslim Shah community organised such a ceremony on Sunday in the state capital, Jaipur.

Fifty-six couples took their vows at the same time.

Cost effective

Marriages are a costly affair for an ordinary family in Rajasthan as it involves dowry, gifts traditionally bestowed upon the groom by the bride's family.

But it was an emotional moment for Zahira Bano as she saw her two daughters getting married on Sunday.

"My two daughters got married at the mass marriage ceremony known as Izatamai Shadi and we only spent 15,000 rupees", she said.

If I had organised the marriage myself, it would have cost me at least 100,000 rupees'', a delighted Ms Bano said.

One of the organisers of the event, Chaman Shah, says there is no pomp and show in such marriages.

Islamic laws

He said the organisers charge only about 10,000 rupees for one marriage.

But they also give a sum of 8,000 rupees each to the newlyweds and some ornaments to begin their new life.

This was the sixth mass marriage in the Shah community in the past few years.

A religious scholar of the community, Sayeed Masoom Ali Shah, said such marriages do adhere to Islamic laws.

One of the grooms, Mohammed Rafiq, said mass marriages were useful in saving money and time.

"I am happy to have got married at this ceremony", he said.

A father of one of the grooms, Haji Mohammed Salim, said rather than spending huge amounts of money on marriages, it could be used for educational and other purposes.

The giving or receiving of dowry - usually money or gifts - is illegal in India and is punishable under Indian law.

But the practice remains widespread in both rural and urban India.

See also:

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