| Abhi Panda and Gitanjali at Utkal Balashramam in Berhampur. Picture by Gopal Krishna Reddy |
Berhampur, June 24: For 22-year-old Gitanjali, life took on a rosy hue as she tied the nuptial knot with Abhi Panda, a painter.
An inmate at the Utkal Balashram (orphanage for girls) here, Gitanjali had never imagined that her wedding would be such a grand affair. She wore an “over the moon” expression today.
The orphanage, which was the venue for her D-Day, was decorated and was buzzing with guests in colourful, dazzling wears for the marriage, arranged with the support of local residents. The feast comprised mouth-watering vegetarian dishes and dessert.
While the groom seemed happy and proudly said he would “always try to keep his wife happy”, Gitanjali’s delight was tinged with a bit of sadness as she would have to leave the orphanage, which was home to her for two decades, to live at her husband’s place. “I can never forget the days I have spent here. All of us lived like sisters. It is an emotional day for me,” she said.
Sonali Digal, another inmate of the balashram, said that they would badly miss Gitanjali. “She was with us for the last 20 years. We were like a close-knit family. We would definitely miss her but we are very happy that she is getting married,” Sonali said.
Gitanjali came to the orphanage when she was only two years old. She appeared for her matriculation exams but did not succeed in the attempt, said Satish Patnaik, secretary of Utkal Balashram, who is also a dentist. “I am extremely happy today as Gitanjali, who is like my daughter, got married to Abhi Panda (40), also an orphan of Gosaninuagaon. I pray to lord Jagannath for their prosperity and happiness,” said Patnaik, who performed kanya daan.
“When the proposal for her marriage came, we accepted it after checking the groom’s background. Abhi is a good boy and I hope both of them would lead a happy married life,” he said.
The orphanage has also deposited Rs 1 lakh in Gitanjali’s name in a bank at Gosaninuagaon.
“We have also given her all household essentials,” said Patnaik.
Chandra Sekhar Sahu, former Union minister who also attended the marriage ceremony, said he was very happy with the arrangements. Berhampur Municipal Corporation’s commissioner Bhim Manseth and representatives from district social welfare board, child welfare committee and other members also attended the marriage.
“I attended a similar marriage ceremony at this orphanage in 1994. Marriages are not just made in heavens, but also here at Utkal Balashram,” said Bikram Panda, a member of Pradesh Congress Committee and a guest at the wedding.