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JAIPUR: It was a rare sight for the residents of Chirawa town in Jhunjhunu district to see a bride sitting in a horse-carriage and leading a procession to mark the pre-wedding ritual of ‘Bandori’.
Gargi Ahlawat, an MBA from UK, has been moving around in a horse carriage for the last three days in different localities of Jhunjhunu, about 150km from here, aiming to bring a change in the mindset of the people by giving out a message that daughters are equal to sons.
Daughter of Jhunjhunu MP, Santosh Ahlawat, Gargi’s reversal of popular ritual has received wide acceptance. “People in rural and semi-rural areas can be influenced by action but not by articles in newspapers or TV shows. My mother is campaigning for ‘Beti Bacho, Beti Padhao’. This action coming from the daughter of an MP can set an example for others to follow. A woman riding a horse carriage for the ritual is bound to be noticed and followed by other families soon,” said Gargi.
The ritual was gracefully accepted by the residents who had come in huge numbers to witness it.
A rarely practiced ritual now, ‘Bandori’ is slightly different from traditional ‘bindoli’ which is a popular pre-wedding ritual in North India. “As the bindoli tradition says that relatives invite both the groom and the bride for a feast before the marriage. So the groom has the privilege of riding a horse till their house after the feast. I have changed the ritual by riding a horse till my house or a temple,” said Gargi.
She is set to marry Delhi-based Kushal in Udaipur on February 8 followed by a reception in Delhi on February 10. Her mother Santosh Ahlawat says changing the patriarchal mindset is extremely important to eliminate the gender divide in the society. “My district had skewed sex ratio which I fought like a warrior. Things have improved a lot in the last few years as awareness has increased with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s focus on ‘Beti Bachao’ campaign. I am happy that my daughter has taken the initiative forward,” said Ahlawat.