Kolhapur (Maharashtra), Aug: Marriages may be made in heaven, but this one was sanctified "hanging" mid-air -- over a 600-feet deep valley!
Jaideep Jadhav, 30, a mountaineer and pharma marketer, and his bride Reshma Patil, preparing for her Indian Administrative Service competitive exams, married in this unique fashion on Sunday in the Western Ghats.
In order to create awareness about adventure sports, the courageous couple decided to make their marriage a live example, said their mentor Vinod Kamboj, President of Western Mountain Sports, Kolhapur, who organised the wedding.
The "arranged marriage" of Jaideep-Reshma was literally taken to a different level -- and the wedding ceremony was performed mid-air in the valley between the 3,000-feet tall peaks of Vishalgadh and Panhala, around 15 km from the base village Bhattali on Sunday morning.
"While Jadhav was all prepared for the 'hanging' nuptials, his bride-to-be Reshma -- a first-timer for any such 'high-flying' adventure, had no hang-ups and joined enthusiastically, albeit a bit nervously," Kamboj told IANS.
A third critical 'hanger-on', in the form of 35-year-old professional priest Suraj Dholi was close at hand mid-air for the ceremony witnessed by over 1,200 people, including some 1,000 villagers and the rest comprising relatives and invitees from both sides.
Jadhav and Reshma were both attired in traditional Maharashtrian wedding dress, and tied onto tough, double nylon-fibre ropes, with supports.
Then they were slowly eased on to the "marriage venue" in the middle of the valley with a direct 600-foot drop below, just before the 1 p.m. marriage 'muhurat' (auspicious time).
The priest, Dholi, who joined them mid-air, started reciting the wedding mantras and completed all the rituals -- minus the 'saat pheras' around the auspicious fire.
Dholi recited the marriage chants, which were heard by the gathering below via cordless microphone. Jaideep tied the "mangalsutra" around Reshma's neck, and both exchanged garlands, all the while hanging in space, with soft clouds billowing around them, amid a light cool drizzle -- presenting an unparalleled romantic spectacle.
The marriage was declared as solemnized after a few minutes -- even as the crowds roared their blessings across the valley, clapped and cheered the newly-wedded couple.
The entire process -- from the time they were tied to the ropes, went through the wedding rituals mid-air and alighted -- took around 40 minutes, Kamboj told IANS.
After alighting and being untied from the nylon ropes, Jaideep and Reshma went and prayed at the local temple, took the blessings of their family members and other elders, and were congratulated by their friends and relatives.
Later, it was feast time with a simple wedding fare comprising Masala pulao, vegetables, dal and sweet sheera which was served to all, including the villagers, curious onlookers and the wedding guests from both families.
Kamboj said arrangements for the mid-air ceremony were begun from Friday, and a bit of training was given to would-be-bride, Reshma. The technical support and equipment was provided by Mumbai's Malay Adventures' President Mahiboob Mujawar and Kolhapur's Hillriders & Hikers Group.
The total cost came to around Rs.50,000, which the three organisations, including Western Mountain Sports, Kolhapur, have borne, he said.