In Gujarat, a bride died of heart attack during her wedding rituals at the marriage venue in the Subhashnagar area, Bhavnagar. Even as the family mourned the death of the bride, relatives proposed an alternative plan to ensure the wedding celebrations continued. They suggested the bride’s younger sister take her place and marry Vishal. Reportedly, her body was kept in cold storage until the ceremony was over.
Hetal felt dizzy and fainted in the middle of her wedding rituals. The doctors told her she had died of a heart attack after she was rushed to a hospital nearby.
Corporator of Bhavnagar city and leader of Maldhari Samaj, Laxman Rathore said that even though the family was shocked by the death of their daughter, members of society convinced them to set an example and not send the bridegroom and his family empty-handed.
Slamming the incident, Dr Jharna Pathak, secretary, Ahmedabad Women’s Action Group (AWAAZ) and professor of Gujarat Institute of Development and Research Centre, held out that there has been no social development of women in Gujarat. “Most women in Gujarat are miles away from social choice and concern. Compared to Kerala and Tamil Nadu, gender empowerment in the state fairs poorly and women are objectified to live up to expectations. Marriages cannot be solemnized just because one’s word but be fulfilled. Imagine what would have happened to the girl who was forced to become bride while her sister’s corpse lay waiting for the final rites?” she questioned.
According to Pathak, the upper-class Gujarat society is still warped in pretentions and marriages are more about alliances between families. “The condition of tribal women is better than this. In fact, nutrition, education and economic equality lags for women in Gujarat as compared to their counterparts in South India,” she briefed.
When asked to comment on the Bhavnagar incident, Sujata Sonawane, president, PRATIKAR, stated: “In the garb of traditions, society is still suppressing women’s rights. The is not an isolated case where the life partner is decided by the family. A woman’s consent or disagreement simply does not matter. Article 19 exists only in books. A love match or a marriage with someone entirely by choice is still a battle for most women, even in the educated and economically affluent rungs,” as she put it.