Mukt Vihan Parinay Samaroh | Collective Marriage
April 21, 2019 | Venue: Ram Manohar Prajapati Inter College, Taraon-Koraon, Prayagraj
More than 60 percent of the families turn to unscrupulous moneylenders to borrow funds for wedding ceremonies. Loans to cover those costs come with impossibly high interest rates, causing many families to fall into bondage to “work-off” the debt. Consecutively, a survey with the families of SHG members reflected that health and wedding expenses are inevitable situations that force the families to fall under the burden of debt. Ill health of a family member and helplessness of the family to gather funds from elsewhere, forces them to take loans from the contractors. These loans range from Rs 15,000 to 20,000 which leads to 10% interest every month. The interest rate of 120 percent a year although being illegal is continuing extensively. These high interest rates make the laborers bonded leading to slavery.
PGS organizes collective marriage programs every year, the registration for which starts in the month of November during the program of Soil worship (Mati Mahotsav).The Collective Marriage comes as a stepping stone for transforming the belief system as its continuous organization for four consecutive years depicts the acceptance of the event among community members. A yearly meeting of Pragati Vahini on December 19, 2015 at Mahuli in Koraon of SHG members arrived at various conclusions out of which three major decisions for collective marriage were:
- SHG members will not take loan for their children’s wedding under any circumstances.
- The SHG members will not ask for any kind of dowry.
- The collective marriage will be organized by Pragati Vahini.
These decisions were materialized in the form of first collective marriage on April 20, 2016 at Devghat, Koraon which witnessed the participation of 1000 people. The collective marriage, since then, is known as ‘Mukt Vihaan Parinay Samaroh’. It embarks the beginning of a socio-cultural initiative led by the community. Mukt Vihaan means a dawn which is devoid of any harassment, pressure and anxiety where people are free to take decision of their lives, livelihood and future. The community members who participated in the program took a collective oath to not marry their children before the legally prescribed age. They went back to their villages with a strong message that adhering to the age-old custom of child marriage is not only against the law but also is like an unholy practice of selling their children in a tender age. It also helped them understand that taking loans for children’s marriage is like imposing bad debts on their own children. The innovation of collective marriage ceremonies not only changed the mindset of community members, it also helped them envision a slavery-free life for the upcoming generations. The married couple is supported by PGS to start a micro enterprise for their livelihood as per their skills and market availability.
The first collective marriage on 20 April 2016, second on 29th April 2017 and third on 4th May 2018 marking the participation of 3, 5 and 6 couples respectively was not organized by an expensive wedding planner, but by slavery survivors — villagers who want freedom for the next generation by saying “no to debt” for weddings. This event has encouraged the concept of community social responsibility and has helped in achieving self-esteem of the community. It is funded by SHG members and civil society members.
With the hope for a new dawn of freedom, PGS has been working to replicate this model in many slavery-prone communities. Through collective marriage PGS has been able to influence the cultural values and belief systems. We presume that acceptance of norms of collective marriage is a step forward towards sustainable freedom. Organizing the 4th collective marriage at Koraon on April 21, 2019 is a reflection of the mutual agreement of the syncing values of the community. This event has encouraged the concept of community social responsibility and has helped in achieving self-esteem of the community.
Members of various institutions have donated for collective marriage, namely, Motilal Nehru National Institute of Technology, Allahabad University, GB Pant Social Science Institute, Ewing Christian College. People from government and non-government organizations, media persons, advocates, businesspersons and people from other walks of life have donated generously for the collective marriage.
Ravishanker Adivasi Advocate-Dhoos, Sudama Adivasi – Sansarpur, Dashmat Prasad, Gram Pradan-Nevadiya Pal, Ram Milan, Gram Pradan – Amiliya Pal, Budhsen, Shetra Panchayat Member – Koraon, Ramjanak Pairaligal – Baranpur, Nandlal Adivasu – Gauhani Kishun Pal – Mahuli, Vijay Shankar Adivasi- Amiliya Pal, Vyas Giri – Baranpur
Roshanlal Adivasi Advocate – Bisri, Bhandarilal Adivasi – Hargad, Savitri Gram Pradan – Madraha, Shekar Dwidedi, Gram Pradan –Shamlipur, Bheemrao Gram Pradan – Hardiha, Ramachal, Gram Pradan – Gaat, Ghanshyam Panchayat Member – Meja, Prem Devi, Panchatyat Member-Meja, Ramsagar, Panchayat Member – Meja, Lalti Devi, Panchayat Member – Meja, Bhuvri Devi, Gram Panchayat Member- Hrdgarh, Shyam Bahadur Gram Pachayat – Mandera, Ram Kailash Adivasu Pairaligal-Bhambheer, Ramasre Adivasi-Hargad, Amar Bahadur Adivasi-Pathra, Subhavati-Kodhaar, Sunita Devi- Adivasi Parialigal-Mandera, Sangeeta Devi Adivasi – Naigadhi, Usha Devi Adivasi-Pathra, Subhavati Adivasi Pairaligal – Hardiha. Shakuntala Devu Adivasi-Piprao
Santosh Kumar Adivasi-Nevadiya -42, Pannalal Gram Pradhan- Nevadiya -42, Sadanand Dubey, Former Gram Pradhan- Majhigawa, Mahendra Singh Panchayat Member- Manda, K.P. Singh Former Gram Pradan- Nevadiya -42, Pushpa Devi, Panchayat Member – Manda, Ramnaresh, Gram Panchayat Member – Nevadiya-42, Ramavadh – Manjhigawa
Chandraprabha, Panchayat Member- Shankergarh, Sunita Adivasi, Panchayat Member- Shankergarh, Sushma Gram Panchayat Member- Shankergarh Someshwar, Panchayat Member- Shankergarh, Bheemsen Adivasi-Purebghel, Vinayraj Adivasi- Purebhel, Rajkumar Adivasi Pairaligal-Kwari No. 5, Geeta Devi Adivasi Paraligal- Katha
Banvarilal Adivasi, Gram Pradhan – Cheedi, Susheela Devi, Gram Pradhan –Bashara Tarahar, Amar Bahadur, Former Gram Pradhan – Bashra Tarhaar
Makbool Ahmed, Gram Panchayat Member- Kanjiya
Mohd. Usman Siddiqui, Gram Pradhan –Chandauha, Gulabkali Yadav, Gram Pradhan – Kotwa, Rajendra Prasad Singh, Gram Pradhan – Sudnipur, Bela Singh Gram Pradhan – Devkali, Dharmendra Singh Gram Pradhan – Katvarupur, Pintu Singh, Gram Pradhan – Birgapur, Jitendra Singh, Gram Pradhan – Mandeer
Sanju Devi, Gram Pradhan – Hakimpatti, Sangeeta Devi, Gram Pradhan – Bijhvaniya, Ajay Yadav, Gram Pradhan – Jamshedpur, Silvant Yadac, Gram Pradhan –Sangram Patii
Pragati Gramodyog evam Samaj Kalyan Sansthan
Pragati Kisan Hit Samanvay Samiti
Pragati Gram Fresh Producer Company
Pragati Legal Aid Center
Pragati Village Education Center
Pragati Bal Vidayalaya
Pragati Samooh Kosh
Pragati Organic Farm School
Pragati Lok Kala Manch
SBJ Coaching Center
Bharat Vikas Parishad – Tejasvani Branch
Society of Integrated Developmnent and Society Registration