Ever thought of buying an Abacus bead with sand or small coloured balls in a bucket or sandpaper numerals as a wedding gift? In a rather unusual wedding held in Guwahati, a couple shunned the glitz and glamour associated with the ‘big fat weddings’ in India. Paloma Dutta and Ved Barua decided to tie the knot in a ‘different’ way that left many of their guests surprised!
The wedding invitation had a tiny note attached: “In an effort to make our wedding more memorable and meaningful, we have planned to gift the children with special needs at Shishu Sarothi, Guwahati, educational aids that facilitate learning in a fun way.”
Shishu Sarothi is an NGO working in the area of early intervention and rehabilitation, education, livelihoods, advocacy and awareness as well as protection of rights and legal aid for children and persons with disabilities in Northeast India. Affiliated to the Indian Institute of Cerebral Palsy, Kolkata for staff training and technical knowledge needs at the Centre for Special Education and its Outdoor Services. Shishu Sarothi has also been a Zonal Coordination Committee (ZCC) for the Rehabilitation Council of India (RCI), and is a State Nodal Agency Centre for the National Trust in addition to being an active member of the Disability Rights Group and other national level advocacy bodies.
Paloma Dutta, who happens to be from Guwahati, is an Editor at Penguin Random House, New Delhi and Ved Barua, who is a UK-based academic researcher decided to make their wedding a memorable and meaningful event by contributing to the children with special needs at Shishu Sarothi. The urge of helping people has led this couple to adopt this unique idea which can inspire many.
Paloma expressed, “Our main baseline was to find an organization that was transparent, since we are not based in Guwahati, we took the help of our family members and shortlisted some organizations and did some research on them online. Finally, on approaching Shishu Sarothi, the one thing we liked about them is, they are instantaneous and they accepted gifts in all kinds.”
After perceiving with the needs of the NGO, the couple drafted their invitation card with a humble note for the guests that requests them to contribute gifts for the children. A list of gifts according to the requirements of the children with special needs was also mentioned in the note which mainly includes educational aids, like specialized learning tools which were easily available online and other stationary items like erasers, pens, notebooks, crayons.
“The fact that was inspiring was the response of the guests, we just slipped a note in the invitation card, but the response was overwhelming. I handed over the gifts to the NGO alongwith an amount of Rs 86,500 which I have received from the guests.” said Paloma.
Indeed the brainchild behind this noble endeavour has brought many people together for a good cause. Paloma and her husband Ved, along with the guests has definitely set an example that all our life events could be celebrated in such a way that it can contribute to making the society and the world a better place. She added, “We are in our mid-thirties and have been financially independent for a while, so the social gesture of setting up the newly-weds did not apply to us, we thought.”
Expressing his gratitude to the couple, Arman Ali, Executive Director of Shishu Sarothi said, “For me it instills our faith in our work, its how people are getting connected to us and I hope more people will join us. Paloma and Ved have set a beautiful example, which even I would have never imagined. I am humbled by their gesture.”