Bengaluru: Netravathi may no doubt have fantasized about a dream wedding with her dream man – sitting in bridal finery at the fire as the pundit chanted the marriage mantras. But the final-year diploma nursing student was forced to marry in the unlikeliest of places – lying on a stretcher in an ambulance, in nightwear.
The pundit – in this case, Murugharajendra Swami of Chitradurga Murugharajendra Brihanmath – climbed up into the ambulance to carry out the rituals. He was conducting a mass marriage for 23 couples at the mutt premises in Chitradurga, 200km from Bengaluru, on Sunday. But Netravathi still got her dream man: her fiance Guruswamy gently tied the mangalya as she painfully lifted up her head a few degrees.
Netravathi, from an agricultural family in the village of BG Kere, Molakalmuru taluk of Chitradurga district, had met and fallen in love with Guruswamy, also from a farming family in Challakere town. Guruswamy is a technician with a windmill project in Chitradurga. The couple had decided to be part of the mass wedding on Amavasya.
Netravathi injured herself on May 23, when she slipped and fell, injuring her spinal cord while picnicking with Guruswamy in Chitradurga fort. She was rushed to the local hospital, where doctors advised her to go to Nimhans in Bengaluru. After a week of treatment, a brave Netravathi made up her mind to return for the wedding on June 5. Doctors at Nimhans sent her back to Chitradurga government hospital, but with strict advice of bed rest. Unable to sit or stand, she reached the mutt in an ambulance.
Murugarajendra Swami, known to be a revolutionary pontiff fighting ancient rituals and the caste system, regularly arranges mass marriages for inter-caste couples. “No one should harm lovers, or try and break a love marriage, it is painful. Elders should bless their marriage and wish them happiness,” he said after the wedding.
Netravathi and Guruswamy were lucky they belonged to the same caste, but once she injured herself, there was reluctance on the part of his family. Doctors, though, said she would recover in a few months, with the right medicines and physiotherapy, but could need a major surgery if she strains herself.