'Jab ladka ladki raazi, toh kya karega qaazi' (When the girl and boy are ready what can the judge do) goes a popular phrase. When Avinash and Kirti decided to tie the nuptial knot, not even the nationwide lockdown could stop them from doing so. Avinash and Kirti, who have known each other for over 3.5 years, had initially planned a grand wedding celebration in Satna, Madhya Pradesh with a guest list of over 8,000 people.
When the nationwide lockdown loomed over as a threat to the plans, the couple decided to take their vows digitally.
Their wedding ritual was conducted via video call in Ghaziabad, while the priest solemnised the wedding from his home in Mumbai.
The guests blessed the couple online from within the confines of their homes.
"We were already determined to get married no matter what the scale would be, this April. So, we didn't have any second thoughts once we decided to go ahead with a virtual wedding," Avinash said.
The couple added that their parents were initially hesitant but they reassured them that none of the rituals or ceremonies will be left out, and later the parents agreed.
The wedding -- organised by matrimonial platform Shaadi.com -- was attended by over 200 participants virtually from across 10 countries. Post the ceremonies, food delivery was organised to the houses of guests to distribute sweets and food.
COVID-19 has disrupted businesses across the world, including India.
With the entire nation under a lockdown, the multi-billion dollar wedding industry has also come to a halt, impacting the plans of hundreds of couples who had zeroed in on a wedding date months before based on astrological charts.
Weddings in India are a huge affair with parents usually sparing no expense to marry off their children in style.
With guest lists usually running into hundreds and celebrations spilling over days, weddings have evolved to being conducted in exotic destinations, bringing in celebrity performers and sending invites that itself cost a mini fortune.
Reports suggest that India's richest man Mukesh Ambani spent USD 100 million on his daughter Isha's wedding that was attended by film and sports celebrities and industrialists and included performances by Beyonce.
Sushen and Keerti, who met online in 2019, wanted to prove to the world that love knows no boundaries and that they could be together while being responsible citizens and following all the laws laid out.
This couple had planned a destination wedding at Jim Corbett National Park in April but the lockdown forced them to change their plans. They worked with Shaadi.com and Leo Burnett and sent out e-invites for guests, and even took online tutorial for mehendi (a ceremony before the wedding).
"Our friends and relatives prepared various performances virtually for our sangeet ceremony. Finally, we had a 'panditji' who performed all the rituals in presence of over 100 guests," said Sushen.
Apart from their friends, the live telecast online got over 16,000 views. Sushen is now waiting for the lockdown to end, so that Keerti can join him in Mumbai to begin the next phase of their lives.
Shaadi.com Director Marketing Adhish Zaveri said for people around the world and more so in India, their wedding date is of immense importance.
"Not just the mahurat, but also the fact that so much planning has gone into it for so many months...we'll make it happen on that exact date and we'll get you married regardless of the lockdown, just that it'll be done virtually," he added.
'Weddings From Home' seems to have gained popularity with one more lined up in the coming week and about eight-nine others being in discussion.
And the company isn't leaving any stone unturned to make these weddings a success.
Weddings From Home is a format that is for anyone and everyone who has access to the internet, he said.
"The bride (Kirti) was in Bareilly, the groom (Avinash) in Mumbai, panditji in Raipur, dhol-tasha artist from Delhi and guests from all over the world.
It was truly representative of India, cutting across all divides," Zaveri said.