LUCKNOW: Ahead of Holi, it was a riot of colours at the city outskirts where a mass wedding took place on Thursday with over 3,500 couples tying the knot.
Described as a "world record" by Uttar Pradesh Labour Minister Swami Prasad Maurya, the mass wedding was organised as part of several welfare schemes run by the Yogi Adityanath government for economically-weaker sections of society.
The couples donning clothes in bright hues, squatted on carpets laid on the sprawling grounds, waiting for priests to complete the rituals, signalling the beginning of their married life.
Some Muslim women too tied the knot at the venue, which was abuzz with chants of Vedic mantras as well as Nikah vows "Qubool Hai" (I accept), even as the fragrance of dishes prepared in community kitchens on the occasion wafted in the air.
Adityanath, who completed four years in office, was present to bless the couples at the event organised by the Uttar Pradesh Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Board.
Speaking on the occasion, the chief minister asked those present in the gathering to maintain social distancing and wear masks to prevent coronavirus from spreading as fresh cases were being reported.
Listing various welfare schemes for labourers, he said the government will soon ensure payment of Rs 2 lakh to any worker who dies in harness.
Maurya said that as part of the mass wedding scheme, financial assistance is given under different heads.
He said Rs 55,000 is given for the marriage of the daughter of a registered construction worker, in case of an inter-caste marriage Rs 65,000 is given and for getting married at a mass wedding venue Rs 75,000 is given.
Up to two daughters of construction workers can benefit from this scheme, Maurya said, adding that the age of the daughter should be above 18 and the groom's more than 21 and the registration of the labourer should be over 100 days old.
Daughters of construction workers registered in Lucknow, Hardoi, Sitapur, Rae Bareli, Unnao, Lakhimpur Kheri and Barabanki districts got married in the matrimonial programme held as per accepted religious customs and traditions.
For newlywed couples -- Radha Kumari and Vinay Kumar Nishad, Kajal Rawat and Chintu Maurya, Manorama and Mohit Kumar, Savita and Chotu, Jehana Begum and Mohd Arif, Safia Khatoon and Mohd Shoun besides Mumtaz Jehan and Bilal Khan -- ecstasy knew no bounds when the chief minister called them to the stage, blessed and gave them marriage certificates.
After the marriage ceremony, several new pairs were seen making a beeline towards a 'selfie point' close by to capture their first coy steps towards their 'happily ever after'.