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In This Assam Wedding, Guests Brought Old Clothes and Books for the Newlyweds. Here's Why

For their return gifts, the guests were asked to choose from saplings of Deodar cedar, locally known as Devadaru.

Karishma Hasnat | CNN-News18

Updated:February 4, 2019, 4:19 PM IST
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In This Assam Wedding, Guests Brought Old Clothes and Books for the Newlyweds. Here's Why
Bhupen Rabha and Babita Boro at their wedding reception in Assam.
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Guwahati: The No. 2 Kataligaon in Assam’s Baksa district witnessed a unique wedding reception on Friday where guests turned up with unusual gifts – old items that could be donated to the poor.

The reception was that of Bhupen Rabha and Babita Boro and a message on the invitation card read ‘Service to Mankind’, wherein the groom requested guests to bring old clothes and books for those in need. And everyone was happy to contribute to the noble cause.

“When we talk about marriage, it is usually about people, gifts and food. I thought of using this moment as an opportunity. Presuming that around 3,000 people from far and near would be attending my wedding, I put out a message in the invitation card. People can take back an example from our village, an awareness message I intended to spread,” said Rabha, who works as an assistant professor in the Department of English at a government college in Mushalpur.

For their return gifts, the guests were asked to choose from saplings of Deodar cedar, locally known as Devadaru.

“This was sponsored by the Assam’s forest department in order to spread the message of greener earth and the need for planting more trees. The local ranger of Batabari helped us immensely. Those who brought clothes and books got a sapling each,” said Rabha.

No. 2 Kataligaon in Mushalpur was earlier recognised as the cleanest village in Baksa district. Every road in the village has banners on both sides that highlight the importance of environment protection and following social rules.

“We have three societies and the work is divided between them to keep the village clean. The society members do all kind of work – from cleaning cow dung from the roads to keeping a watch on anyone flouting the rules. We are tribals, yet we prohibit the sale of liquor. Anyone found consuming liquor has to pay a fine of Rs 10, 000,” Rabha explained.

He shared his idea with one of these societies, and though the villagers were sceptical of the initiative, they got together to help.

Rabha then put up banners outside his house and with the help of a European friend, who was also his best man at the wedding, he organised a cultural show for the wedding guests where he distributed clothes to the cart pullers of his village.

Bundles of clothes collected in the wedding would now be distributed by the village society to those in need, and the books would be stacked at an open library for the villagers. Rabha believes it’s a big step to inspire them for quality education.

Asked about his wife, Rabha said she is ‘different’ in her own way, understanding and kind. “She has been very supportive. We never thought our plan would be such a success. It’s a love-cum-arranged marriage, and I can never thank God enough for giving me Babita as the life partner.”

As the word about Rabha’s initiative spread, more and more people offered to contribute to the cause. “I gifted a set of books to Rabha and Babita. I am glad I could help, and at the same time bring out their story for others to follow,” said Monohar Rajbongshi, a local journalist.
| Edited by: Divya Kapoor
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