August 14, 2011

INDIA: Age no bar- Senior citizens ready for marriage too

MUMBAI, Maharashtra / Daily News & Analysis / August 14, 2011

They Divorced Loneliness
By Bhagyashree Kulthe

Pune-based Jayant Joshi’s marriage to Leina from Bangalore was a warm family affair. There was the usual shopping to be done for the bride and everyone was eager to get introduced to the new members in the family.

The only difference was that Jayant was well past 70 and his lady love, Leina, a few years younger than him. Joshi’s daughter-in-law and Leina’s son were in the forefront of the marriage preparations.

Unlike in the past when the elderly who had lost their spouses to death or divorce were consigned to the silent, painful life of loneliness, today, there’s openness all around to find a suitable companion and enter into matrimony in the twilight years.

Joshi, a retired chairman of the giant public sector, Life Insurance Corporation, lives at Athashri Schemes in Pashan with his wife Leina, who is a Malaysian-born Malayalee. Athashri, as is well known, is a specially designed housing society for senior citizens.
A Maharashtrian Brahmin, Joshi lost his wife in 1993. After her death, he kept himself busy in grooming his grandson for his life ahead. When the grandson got married and settled down, Joshi’s son Harish urged him to marry again. His other son, Charudutta, supported this suggestion and that’s when Joshi placed a classified seeking a bride.
“At 74, I was looking for a bride,” he laughs. Leina approached him and both decided to marry in 2005. He speaks of the thoughts that envelop senior citizens when it comes to remarriage in the later years. “Many senior citizens hesitate to remarry thinking they will betray their late partner by doing so. It was 11 years after my wife’s demise that I thought of marriage. She wished that I should not live alone. Death of the spouse is destiny. Companionship is the need in old age,” he says.
Leina and Joshi’s children live in Mumbai and Bangalore respectively. The Joshi couple prefers to be close to them rather than stay alone.

Kumar Deshpande from Mumbai was moved to see his father-in-law living alone after his mother-in-law’s death. He took the initiative and found a partner for him. Enriched by that experience, Deshpande now runs a marriage bureau for senior citizens.

“The youngsters have to understand the deep-seated need for sharing among the old. This realisation is coming about, but slowly, says Deshpande, who holds gatherings for prospective senior citizen brides and grooms in cities like Hyderabad, Kolhapur and elsewhere.

Fifty six-year-old Suvarna from Mumbai found a soulmate in 65-year-old Bhalchandra Nikarge from Kolhapur. They were supported all through by Suvarna’s sister-in-law and her maternal family. Even my brothers and sisters were happy that I found a companion,” said Suvarna. However this did not go so well with Nikarge’s children.

Ravindra Joshi - DNA

He says he took the decision only after ensuring that his children were well settled. “They are all married and financially sound. They live in Mumbai while I look after my business in Kolhapur. I would have been happier with my new life had they been positive about my decision,” he says.    

Happy with his new life, Nikarge now arranges marriage meets for senior citizens in Kolhapur. The next generation is opening up to the idea, becoming more supportive of their elderly single, parents thinking of remarriage. Nikarge cites the example of an ex-serviceman whose children have been in search for a suitable partner for their ageing father.
“With increasing support from children, many senior citizens are openly coming in to register in marriage bureaus,” he says.
Housing societies like the Athashri Schemes at Pashan, where the elderly lead an independent life, have many examples of newly-married senior citizens, egged on by their children to step into a new life. It’s a full circle now. Love is waiting to bloom in the twilight years and all it needs is a little care and support.
©2011 Diligent Media Corporation Ltd.
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