After her father died of heart disease two years ago, Jyoti Chelengara, 22, resigned herself to the idea that she would never be married. The family had been unable to pay for heart surgery for her father, and the mounting expenses from her mother's osteoporosis forced Ms Chelengara, who works as a maid, to take on additional jobs. Meanwhile, Ms Chelengara's mother, Ambujam, said she also held out little hope for her daughter being wed; the expense of even a modest wedding seemed out of reach.
"We never thought in our life that I could be able to get to see her as a bride, as a married woman," Mrs Chelengara said. "Now I am going to attend her wedding." On Sunday, Ms Chelengara married Mohan Das, 25, in a Hindu ceremony at a mass wedding arranged by a group of Abu Dhabi-based men from Kerala. After the celebrations, Ms Chelengara was to make her way from her family's one-room home to the home of her husband, an auto rickshaw driver.
Of her parents' home, she said the room is small; the family cooks outside because they have no space for a kitchen. She was to travel 100km across Kerala to Mr Das's home, which is bigger and where he lives with his parents and brother. Ms Chelengara had not previously met her new husband. "He is a good boy, from a decent family," she said, shyly. "My relatives made the match and I am happy with that. We have not met but others have vetted this marriage."
Unlike most new brides-to-be, Ms Chelengara did not go trousseau shopping. "We have been unable to prepare or organise anything," she said. "It is up to the organisation. Whatever they give me, I will go to my new home with that." * The National