Child sexual abuse and other social causes took centrestage at a city-based couple’s wedding recently.Bhaarath Vijay Ramesh and Deepika Kumaraswamy also set up a stall for their guests to sign up to be organ donors
CHENNAI:Weddings are fun — the food, drama, selfies... But, it’s also one of the most underrated places for having ‘quality conversations’. City-based couple Bhaarath Vijay Ramesh and Deepika Kumaraswamy seem to have observed this and decided to convert their big day into something that made a difference. The couple presented their well-wishers with three gifts to express their gratitude on their wedding day. Awareness on child sexual abuse, a stall where they could sign up to be organ donors, and a dance floor for 47 HIV positive children.
The three-minute video of Sandhiyan Thilagavaythy, founder, Aware talking about child sexual abuse on a wedding stage, shared on his Facebook account, drove us to talk to the happy-couple behind the idea. Bharath is an engineer, and his wife is a professor. “We are always up for volunteering. We’ve had several training sessions. News of children being sexually assaulted and murdered filled our news feeds every day and we decided to act upon it,” shares Bhaarath. “Though ours was an arranged marriage, our interest to make a difference brought us closer,” he adds.
So, what made them highlight these issues on the conventionally most important day of their lives? “Our wedding day was nearing and I had a dream – of me talking on stage. That triggered this idea. We were going to be the two most important people on that day and what we tell or spoke mattered to people. So, why not use the attention for a good cause? I shared the idea with Deepika and she enthusiastically agreed,” he shares.
Having been closely associated with Aware, an NGO that has been actively spreading awareness about CSA, the duo immediately approached Sandhiyan who readily agreed to be a part of the ‘surprise act’. “Except our parents, no one else knew that we would be talking about child sexual abuse on stage. The main aim was to break the silence and taboo around the topic. Even a stranger would listen to you talk about it. But your friends and family might be uncomfortable when the topic comes up. We wanted to change that and trigger conversations,” he says.
Sandhiyan's talk did exactly what the couple set out to — initiating conversations on child abuse and harassment. “There were many who were keen on learning more about it. We received a lot of texts after the wedding,” he shares.
They also set up a stall for interested guests to take a pledge and sign up to be an organ donor. “We are organ donors. I approached Dr Senthil Kumar from Stanely Medical College and shared the idea of setting up an organ donation camp at the wedding. He really liked the idea and helped us set up the stall. The response was amazing and many signed up too," he shares.
Bhaarath has also adopted two children from Solomon Raj’s NGO, ‘Shelter trust’. “These children are HIV positive, and I have been taking care of their medical and education expenses. I knew these children even before I knew Deepika. I’ve always wanted them to be part of my wedding and that’s exactly what happened. My children danced in my wedding,” he says