This post was originally published on 27 December 2016.
An Indian diamond trader has thrown a mass wedding for more than 200 fatherless girls and given each of them gifts worth lakhs of rupees, to help start a new life.
Mahesh Savani, a 48-year-old diamond trader threw the mega-wedding ceremony for 236 fatherless brides, belonging to lower-middle-class families, in the city of Surat, in the western province of Gujarat, at Christmas.
The gala event, which began on Thursday and ended on Sunday, saw hundreds of brides in colourful ethnic attire and ornate shining jewellery performing wedding rituals before thousands of guests.
The Surat-based benevolent magnate also gave each bride a set of household items, including furniture, a gold jewellery set, and expensive clothes, plus a paycheck of 500,000 rupees to each to help them begin their married life.
Notably, apart from these 236 girls which included five Muslims and a Christian, two boys from Savani family also got married at the ceremony. It is not known how much the giant ceremony cost.
Savani, who believes that giving away brides is a blessing from God, has been organising similar mass weddings every year since 2012.
In 2015 Mr Savani sponsored 151 brides whose fathers had also died and in 2014 he organised a further 111 weddings.
“I have now become a proud foster-father of 708 fatherless girls who were married off by my family in the last five years,” he said.
Savani said he began his charitable campaign in 2008 when one of his own employees died just days before his daughter’s wedding.