The wedding invitation triggered protests.

By Vallabh Ozarkar

They wanted to celebrate the meeting of two hearts, two families and two religions.

But all it took was one leaked wedding card to spoil that dream.

Last week, members of a family in Nashik called off a function to solemnise their 28-year-old daughter’s wedding to a Muslim man as per Hindu rituals following protests by their community. The protesters described the marriage as a case of “love jihad”.

But their story did not end there.

Even though the function was cancelled, the family members decided that they would continue to stand by their daughter’s choice. According to them, there was no attempt at forced conversion. And the marriage had already been registered in a local court.

Prasad Adgaonkar, a prominent jeweller and the bride’s father, said his daughter Rasika suffered from physical disability and the family had faced some difficulty in finding a match for her. Recently, she and Asif Khan, a former classmate, announced their desire to tie the knot. Since the two families knew each other for the past few years, they agreed to the match.

In May, Adgaonkar said, the marriage was registered at a Nashik court in the presence of both the families. At the time, they also agreed to conduct the rituals on July 18 before the woman left for her in-laws’ house.

The function, the father said, was to be held in the presence of close relatives at a Nashik hotel. But then, he said, a copy of the invitation card got circulated in several WhatsApp groups, triggering protests, messages and calls, including from “strangers”, for the function to be cancelled.

On July 9, Adgaonkar said, he was asked by community members to meet them. During the meeting, the jeweller claimed he was “advised” not to hold the function. “A lot of pressure started coming from people of the community and others, and so it was decided to cancel the marriage function,” another family member said.

Subsequently, the family submitted a letter to a local community organisation that the ceremony had been called off.

Sunil Mahalkar, president of Lad Suvarnakar Sanstha, Nashik, to whom the letter was addressed, said: “We have received a letter from the family and they have informed us that the marriage has been cancelled.”

The man’s family could not be reached for comment. And the woman’s family has chosen not to approach the police on this issue.

But at the same time, they remain firm: whatever happens, the young couple will not be forced to separate.

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