Weddings in India are celebrated with a lot of fanfare, and a huge amount of money is spent, especially on bridal outfits. However, for many, the grandeur of a wedding evokes a sense of dread. For economically weak families in rural India, whose primary concern is to secure the next meal for the day, weddings only spell financial doom. Often, the expense incurred in the entire affair robs them off the little that they have.
A resident of the Dungi village in Uttarkashi, Radhika’s husband died a few years ago, and left her to fend for herself and her children. After immense struggle, she managed to educate her daughter till class 12 and her son till class 10. The pension that she received failed to make ends meet, and forced her to work as a daily wage labourer on farms. It is of little surprise then that news of her daughter’s marriage only worried her.
It is this fear that made Goonj, an NGO, go into action. Goonj collects old wedding dresses and other new material from cities and reworks them for brides in rural India. These are then presented in the Wedding Kits, that they provide to people like Radhika.
Goonj collects old wedding dresses from cities and then, by using fancier clothes, reworks and modifies them. Taking ample care of the economic conditions of the recipient families, they distribute these kits through the local panchayats. This noble endeavour allows brides and the bridegrooms as well as their families to wear new clothes.
Along with the Wedding Kit, they also distribute Pandaal Kits, that has basics like utensils, blankets, rugs, and more in large quantities which they distribute to the village communities. Though the endeavour may be benevolent, it is quite a task for the organisation to collect the wedding outfits, due to the sentimental value attached to them. In order to solve this problem, they instead collect Mata ki chunni, the shiny piece of cloth offered in prayers, and then stitch them together to make wedding lehengas.