RANCHI: At a time when wedding bells have stopped chiming amid exponential surge in COVID-19 cases during the deadly second wave, this Jharkhand legislator chose it an opportune moment to tie the nuptial knot.
For Naman Bixal Kongari, who took the solemn wedding vows in Ranchi Thursday, this was to show the rural masses that marriage can be conducted with such simplicity within the confines of one's home without any fanfare.
The restrictions enforced by the Jharkhand government to rein in coronavirus surge make it clear that not more than 11 persons shall attend the marriage, including the bride/bridegroom.
It has prohibited use of loudspeakers, DJ, firecrackers etc and has made it mandatory to provide information regarding weddings at the nearest police station at least three days prior to wedding.
The 48-year-old MLA said the event was held after due permissions by a pastor from Church at home and only five people were there from the bridegroom's side- his daughter, two sisters, a witness and a friend.
Bride Madhu had six guests from her side and it was all a simple affair, he told PTI.
He says he chose to drive to Ranchi to bride's place at Dibdih to solemnise his wedding.
Unique was that his daughter Archie (15) was a witness to the pious bond ceremony.
This is the second wedding for the MLA who lost his first wife.
"During a meeting of MPs and MLAs with the Chief Minister Hemant Soren recently to chalk out a strategy to contain the surge of the virus, many were of the view that marriages should not be allowed during these times.
"But the people in remote and far-flung areas of Jharkhand do not follow such restrictions and it was decided to allow weddings with restrictions," Kongari, who got elected from Kolebira (ST) constituency in 2019 on a Congress ticket, said.
He said many whether Hindu, Muslim, Christian or any other community think it inauspicious to extend the dates for weddings once finalised.
"Under the circumstances, I chose to go for it on a given date, which is today, with a message to the masses, especially the rural masses.
"I wanted to show them that when a person who has resources and can afford it in a lavish manner later, can solemnise weddings with such simplicity, why can't they. And I think this will be a strong message for people in rural areas," he said.
Battling severe surge in cases, Jharkhand which has announced lockdown like restrictions till May 27 has reduced the number of people attending weddings to 11.
"Marriage shall be held at home or court. Marriage shall not be held at any public place including community hall, banquet hall etc. Not more than 11 persons shall attend the marriage including the bride/bridegroom, person for solemnizing the marriage," the new stricter provisions imposed by the state says.
The state has also prohibited any kind of procession.
Kongari said his wedding was finalised months in advance and to set the precedent of simplicity he chose to drive more than 100 km to Ranchi for the wedding.
There were some family problems and issues due to which also the dates could not be finalised, he said adding that once he reaches his village at Kolebira in Simdega district in Odisha and Chattisgarh border, he will not organise any function or party.
Had he postponed the event, it would have taken months to re-arrange it as the procedure is complicated including repeating the pledges in the Church as well as going for the process to invite any objection from anyone, he said.
Battling a sharp surge in COVID-19 cases during the second wave, the state government has extended the lockdown till May 27.
Restrictions with stricter provisions, including seven days mandatory quarantine for people visiting the state, are now in place.
Jharkhand recorded 53 fatalities in state on Thursday.
The mortality rate in the state remained higher at 1.44 per cent as against the nation's 1.10 per cent.
The Jharkhand government has set up a task force at block level to map and more effectively contain the virus.
Adopting a multi-pronged strategy, it began the massive public health survey exercise Wednesday which will be carried out till May 25.
In a bid to protect its citizens from the deadly virus, the Jharkhand government had on May 14 launched a free vaccination drive for people in the age group of 18 to 44 years.
Over 1.57 crore people in the state are in the 18-44 years age bracket.