Plagued by a skewed sex ratio within their community, Gujarat’s Patel community are building matrimonial alliances with Kurmis in Odisha to help Patel men find brides.
A mass matchmaking ceremony was held in Surat where 42 girls from mostly poor Kurmi families participated.
Contrary to their number, 5,000 Patel men queued up in the hope of finally finding a bride
. Obviously, all 42 girls found suitors. The weddings will be solemnised at a mass marriage ceremony on October 16. “I feel I am lucky that I found a life partner before it is too late,” said Haresh Sojitra, 28, a diamond businessman who found a match. Asked how Kurmi women would adjust to Gujarati families since they did not know the language and most of them were non-vegetarians, a brother of the girl who participated in the event, said, “They will have to adjust and live like their husband’s families. As for language, our samaj in Surat will train them.” Usually the family of the bride has to spend a lot of money on the daughter’s marriage. But Dr Jagdish Patel, a member of Samast Patidar Samaj (SPS), said that affluent donors from the Patidar community in Surat will be bearing all the expenses of the marriage.
The tradition propagated by Gujarati Patidars with Kurmis in other states was started two years ago and has been named as ‘Beti Roti’.
In the first year, seven Odiya women married Patels. In the second year, it rose to 22. Mathur Savani, president of SPS that hosted the match-making, said:
“Patel boys remain unmarried as brides are not available. They (Oriyas) give their beti (daughter) to us and save their ‘roti’ as they will be spared taking back-breaking loans for dowry.”
The SPS takes up the responsibility of the brides and even looks after them during their stay at her in-laws’ place. Dr Patel said, “Till now, not a single marriage we arranged has broken. The girls adapt to the lifestyles of Gujarati Patel families easily.”
Gujarat has child sex-ratio of 886 girls per 1,000 boys – sixth worst in India.
The Patel community is most affected with 700-800 girls per 1,000 boys, forcing them to buy brides from tribal regions in Gujarat, Maharashtra and even Karnataka through agents. At the same time, complaints of brides running away with money and jewellery are commonplace in north Gujarat and Saurashtra region.