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Lockdown noose on tying the knot

'At least 5,000 weddings had been planned across the state on Friday; more than 90% of these have been cancelled'
Baisakh is the auspicious month for marriages but the extension of the lockdown till May 3 to stem the march of the coronavirus has slammed the brakes on ceremonies and wedding registrations in Bengal. The timing of the lockdown has coincided with “Choutha Baisakh”.
Baisakh is the auspicious month for marriages but the extension of the lockdown till May 3 to stem the march of the coronavirus has slammed the brakes on ceremonies and wedding registrations in Bengal. The timing of the lockdown has coincided with “Choutha Baisakh”.
(Shutterstock)

Anshuman Phadikar   |   Tamluk(EastMidnapore)   |   Published 16.04.20, 09:01 PM

Jab miyan-biwi raazi toh kya karega kaazi (when the groom and bride are willing, what can the priest do)?” — what the anonymous creator of the popular adage didn’t foresee is that even if priests can’t, lockdown can.

Baisakh is the auspicious month for marriages but the extension of the lockdown till May 3 to stem the march of the coronavirus has slammed the brakes on ceremonies and wedding registrations in Bengal. The timing of the lockdown has coincided with “Choutha Baisakh”, the fourth day of the Bengali New Year that falls on Friday, on and after which marriage dates are fixed.

“At least 5,000 weddings had been planned across the state on Friday. More than 90 per cent of these have been cancelled,” said a source in the All Bengal Marriage Officers’ Organisation.

While members of the organisation agree with the reason that necessitated the cancellation of wedding ceremonies, they have questioned the state government’s silence on declaring registrations an essential service given the timing of the lockdown.

“We can easily go to people’s homes, maintain social distancing and yet solemnise marriages. This is also a culturally sensitive issue, as people do not want both their weddings and receptions to be postponed indefinitely,” the official added.

This week, the association emailed a formal appeal to the state’s registrar-general of marriages requesting that its 1,500-odd members be allowed to function during the lockdown.

The procedure for marriage registration in Bengal stipulates that an online application is submitted on the designated government website, following which an official from the state-accredited organisation conducts an in-person meeting with the bride, groom and three witnesses within one month of the application. Sources said this procedure could be safely conducted during the lockdown.

Earlier applicants for the registration procedure — which has a three-month time limit as per law — are also appealing for a system to conduct registrations during the lockdown, or, an official extension or moratorium to the three-month window.

“I had applied in winter and had got a date for April. But I will miss that now, so I hope I don’t have to apply all over again and further delay my wedding. It is a huge occasion,” said 30-year-old East Midnapore resident Rajkumar Samanta.

“Marriage registrations need to come under the purview of an essential, or exempt, activity during the lockdown,” he added.

“We are being flooded with enquiries and requests about registration,” said association general secretary Jayanta Mitra, adding that the government’s marriage registration portal reflected roughly 750 weddings had taken place in April this year. This is in sharp contrast to the over 53,000 weddings and registrations that took place in Bengal in January and February.

Law minister Moloy Ghatak said he had not received the association’s formal appeal.

“I will look into the issue. The lockdown should not be a problem for people who are trying to get their marriages registered…,” he said.



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