Age is no bar for senior citizens to marry for the first time or re-marry to have company for the rest of their life, especially in old age, as evident from the good response to a matrimonial meet held here on Sunday for elders.
“About 250 senior citizens above 50-60 years, including 150 men and 100 women came to the match-making event here. We are moved by the response, as senior citizens, including single, widowed or divorced came in search of a companion,” said Anubhandana Foundation member Bharatbhai Patel.
Admitting that having company in old age is a major social problem for the senior citizens, living alone or away from children, Patel said the Ahmedabad-based foundation had been organising such events in a few cities across the country to enable elderly people find a suitable companion and lead a meaningful life.
“Though the response this time has been 50 less than the 300 when the event was hosted here for the first time in January 2014, the participants have come from other parts of Karnataka, including Mangaluru, Hubballi, Mysuru and Raichur,” Patel recalled. The oldest person among men was 78 years and among women it was a woman of 55 years.
Among the participants, about 10 got engaged at the venue and a dozen agreed to meet again to decide on when to tie the knot. Several others registered their details with the foundation to help them find a suitable companion from its database in other cities.
“Nuclear families, career pursuits and changing lifestyle have been disrupting the life of senior citizens as their sons and daughters leave them behind after education on getting jobs or on getting married and then they live separately in the same city or other cities in India or abroad,” Patel said.
While the majority of senior citizens belonging to the middle class are financially sound or self-sufficient, it is loneliness or lack of company that makes them marry again even from other communities, cutting across social barriers of caste and creed.
“We are doing our best to ensure single citizens get a compatible person to live with them in the evening of their life and help each other in old age. More than money, it’s care and love that matters the most in old age for such citizens, who live on their own or away from their kin,” Patel noted.
“Besides facilitating the coming together of aged citizens, we provide counselling service and assist the re-married couple to register their names and other details at their respective marriage bureaus in the sub-registrar offices.
According to foundation secretary Gouri Shankar, the not-for-profit organisation provides a platform for senior citizens to meet, interact and decide whom to choose as a partner and how soon they would like to live together.
Regretting that more and more elderly people were being left to fend themselves or neglected by their kin, human rights activist Uday Kumar said not many children of the present generation cared for their ageing parents, irrespective of their status, divorced or widowed.
“As leading a lonely life in old age is worrisome, I am glad the foundation had organised the matrimonial event to meet my future partner,” said M. Shankarappa, one of the participants.