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A Different Wedding

rajendra bhavalkar Dr Rajendra Bhavalkar
NGOs make possible the wedding of four HIV–positive couples in the city
Forgot acceptance by the society at large, we are happier to be accepted by each other. This is how a to–be–married HIVpositive couple felt a day before their marriage.

On Monday evening, the Suyog Hall in the city will be hosting the wedding of four HIVpositive couples. They will be getting married in a traditional Hindu ceremony. The organisation of the wedding has been made possible by the efforts of Dr Rajendra Bhavalkar, director of Akshada Marriage Bureau, and Prakash Dingankar.

Network of Pune by people living with HIV, an NGO working amongst the HIVpositive people, Manavya and Rotary Clubs in Dhayari, Metro, Lokmanya and West End areas are also pitching in with help to make the weddings a reality.

It is natural that people would be wary of divulging their identities when they are carriers of the dreaded virus. Forty–fiveyear–old Anup Lonar, who will be marrying Mona Sholapurkar (names changed to protect their identities), spoke to Pune Mirror on condition of anonymity. He said “I am suffering from AIDS for the last 10 years. I don’t know exactly how I was infected with HIV. Maybe, I got it from the sex workers I had visited. I also suspect unsafe practices in hospitals where I had gone earlier.”

Lonar, who had married once, thought of another marriage, as he felt the need for a partner after his wife’s death. He said “My wife’s death made me helpless. There was no one to look after me. Mona, who I am going to marry, had lost her husband to AIDS. She too does not have anyone to look after her. Now, I am happy that I am going to live with her and her two children.”

Mona spoke on how she came to meet Anup. “My husband Manoj died due to AIDS three years back. I met Anup at the NGO where I was working. He helped me during my bad days and admitted me to a hospital. My 12–year–old daughter and 11–year–old son need a father who could be with them. Manoj’s mother, who is alone too, will be living with us.”

The organisers had a tough time arranging the marriage, as in a few cases it was difficult to get the nod from the parents and relatives of the couples. Dr Bhavalkar said, “We had received nearly 250 application in this regard. I think this is the first time in Pune that four HIV–positive couples are going to tie the knot. The cases of Anup Lonar and Mona Sholapurkar were difficult for us, as they belong to rural areas and we had to work hard to convince their parents, but we finally succeeded in convincing them.”

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Source : Times of India

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