Nashik (Maharashtra), Dec 29: A Mumbai engineer and a cost accountant had a traditional marriage in the presence of their families atop the misty Mt. Kalsubai, Maharashtra’s tallest peak. Sunday’s unusual venue was chosen due to a common passion for adventure shared by the groom Vivek Patil, an engineer with Larsen & Toubro, Powai and Swapnali Dhabugade, a cost accountant with Social Axis, Khar.
The duo had met during a trek last May – and soon love blossomed. They even formed an independent group, TrekLovers, to spend more time together. They had been courting since then, ensuring they were together on at least 20 different treks and biking expeditions across the state.
With the consent of both their families, Vivek (of Thane) and Swapnali (of Chembur), got engaged at a ceremony in an old age home in Khadavli in Thane district November 2. They then decided on an unusual venue for their wedding – atop the state’s highest peak at 1,646 metres in Nashik district on the Western Ghats – at the temple of Goddess Kalsubai there.
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“It took us several months to convince our families but they finally relented. In fact, my father refused to budge out of the house till the last minute Saturday (December 27). Only when we reached Bari, the base village, did he step out and join the wedding ceremonies,” a smiling Vivek told IANS.
Accompanied by around 150 relatives, the wedding party drove down from Nashik to Bari village which is the ‘base village’ for trekkers who troop here from all over India.
From there began a gruelling 200-minute trek to reach the peak – with everybody, including the bride and groom in full trekking gear. “Even the priest was reluctant initially. Later, he relented and for weeks underwent a training session of exercises, jogging and climbing for our nuptials!” Swapnali said.
On December 27 evening, the wedding parties reached the peak where there was a traditional ‘haldi ceremony’ following by ‘sangeet’ with lots of singing, dancing and merriment in the chilly weather of around four degrees Celsius. The dinner was a simple affair prepared by the Bari villagers, comprising roti, vegetables and ‘khichdi’ after which they retired to a dozen-odd tents erected there for the night on the small table-top around the temple.
Early Sunday, by 5 a.m., everybody changed into their wedding finery for the traditional ceremonies, saat-pheras and marriage vows, which ended around 9 a.m.
As a bonus, besides the 150-odd family members, some 250 trekkers who were on the Mt. Kalsubai trail that morning, joined the marriage ceremonies with cheer and good wishes, making it memorable for the young couple. The breathtaking view from the open air venue included glimpses of the picturesque Bhandardara Dam, the nearby pinnacles of Ghanchakkar, Katrabai, Ratangad, Khutta and lush green foggy valleys.
“There was a wedding breakfast comprising simple ‘poha’ with piping hot tea, prepared by the Bari villagers. Later, the entire wedding party trekked down to the village where a simple wedding lunch was waiting for us,” the happy couple added.
After returning to Nashik that evening, there was a regular joint wedding reception for around 500 invitees and guests from both sides.
Swapnali and Vivek said that despite the simple but rugged lodging and boarding arrangements, all the guests from both the families were unanimous that it was “the most memorable wedding” they had attended in their life. An earlier instance of an adventure wedding was Pune’s Shital Mahajan who married Finland-based engineer Vaibhav Rane in a hot air balloon swaying 600 feet above the earth, in April 2008.
By Quaid Najmi