Surabhi HR, 25, and Hemant Gaule, 29, made their wedding day special by inviting 500 underprivileged kids for their reception, complete with fun activities like mehndi, dance and great food. Premjit Mohapatra spoke to the couple.
Surabhi HR, founder and CEO of Political Quotient, and Hemant Gaule, an entrepreneur, tied the holy knot of matrimony on November 6. While the nuptial ceremony had all the trappings that are characteristic of an Indian Hindu wedding, it stood out for the unique guest list it had for the reception, held at Samskruthi Convention Hall, Jayanagar in Bengaluru. It was graced by almost 500 underprivileged kids from different orphanages and disability homes ranging from the age of 8 to 16. Notable among them were the disabled and albino kids.
“I dreamt of a wedding that was more than the usual. And what better than to have kids be part of the occasion, especially those who never get invited to such parties,” remarks Surabhi. While the wedding took place in the morning with all the associated rituals, the reception was held in the evening. Said Hemant, “Surabhi and I connect at a very deep spiritual level and when we were discussing our marriage this thought came up organically. In the Hindu belief system, there is a culture of sharing with people in need, so the idea was always there.
The inspiration for a charity reception for kids came from serving food in the Sikh tradition of ‘Langar’ in a Gurudwara.”
The intention was to serve and give back to the society by serving, so we named our modest initiative “SevaSeShaadi”, said Surabhi. Queried on the reaction of their parents, the couple said, “We broke the decision to them gradually; initially, they were in a bit of a shock, but were quickly won over by the noble purpose and were very supportive of the decision.”
To give shape to the initiative, Surabhi posted a video on Facebook on October 23rd announcing the date of her wedding and urging everybody in her friend list and beyond to be part of the festivities by volunteering their services for the cause. They could register their volunteer services by simply filling up a Google Form. “We needed volunteers to manage the logistics of such an event and it was heart warming to see the way everybody came forward to help us,” said Hemant. “We started a donation portal and requested them not to bring any gifts and instead donate the money to different organizations working with underprivileged kids. But any gifts like clothes, toys, sweets, etc, that could be used by the kids was encouraged,” reveals Surabhi.
In this endeavour, they were helped by Samarthanam Trust, which works with differently abled children and got about 250 children to the event. The rest 250 children were from other organizations like NELE, a caring home for destitute children; Youth for Seva, which provides youth for volunteering work; Seva Café, etc. The donations from the wedding will be distributed in these and other similar organizations. “We also requested all our volunteers and friends to bring a child who they meet in their daily interactions like a domestic help or ragpicker or anyone they meet on the streets, who they felt should be part of the party,” adds Surabhi.
The evening party wore a festive look with music, Mehendi, dance, face painting, Origami and other fun activities to keep the kids engaged and ensure they had a good time. The children were the mainstay of the party and everything revolved around them. “We requested our friends who could play music to put on a musical show for the kids, or help with putting Mehendi on their hands, besides making sure they were looked after. Volunteers also doubled up as extra serving hands while serving delicious food to the children,” informs Surabhi about the reception. Remarks Hemant, “We are just happy that the charity reception went off well and the children enjoyed it. The smile on their faces and seeing them enjoying the party made our day.”
He adds philosophically, “You can have money, power and all the material things that life can offer, but the joy that comes from serving people who don’t even have the bare minimum is unparalleled. Our humble effort is like a drop in an ocean and by involving our friends and family in this initiative, we are hoping they too understand what it is to serve, share or give and, hopefully, the feeling they go back with shall inspire them to try and give back to society in their own modest way. Every drop counts.”
Definitely a wedding to remember and a thought to hold on to!