A most unusual swayamvaramA Ganesh Nadar in Tiruchi, Tamil Nadu
On Sunday, a swayamvaram of the kind we have only heard of in ancient India took place at a college hall in Tamil Nadu.
The participants were an unusual group of people. A Ganesh Nadar was present at the heart-warming occasion.
Sswayamvaram is well entrenched in our ancient texts. There is the famous one in the Ramayana, where Sita chooses her life partner, and in that other venerable text, the Mahabharata, Draupadi gets to do the same.
Many centuries later, Prithviraj Chauhan gallops off with Sanyogita from her swayamvaram in dashing style.
Recently, a most unusual organisation used this practice of choosing a future life partner for its members. The Leucoderma Awareness Movement in Chennai is founded by K Umapathy and now has 100,000 members.
According to Umapathy, who suffers from the condition himself, marriage is a hurdle people like him face. Thus the decision to hold a swayamvaram for the movement's members.
When he first announced the event, 500 people registered. He had to prune the list down to 100 and then to 40 as funds and space was limited.
A condition where the pigmentation of the skin is affected, leaving unsightly blotches on the face and other parts of the body, leucoderma is unfortunately a visible condition and people who have it are unnecessarily stigmatised or pitied.
The condition affects two per cent of the world's population. In India, the figure is double, at four per cent of the nation's population -- Tamil Nadu alone has 3.6 million leucoderma-affected people.
Image: Participants present themselves on the stage