Ahmedabad: On Father’s Day, Mahesh Savani, a businessman, receives greetings from his 472 daughters. These women are actually girls who have lost their fathers. Savani has been their father figure and organized their weddings over the past few years.
After the death of his brother, Savani, now 47, had to perform the ‘kanyadan’ for his two nieces, around 10 years ago. The event left him thinking about the many girls without fathers. He started supporting such girls from 2008, helping them get married and supporting them through their married life. He has been organizing weddings annually since then. Savani has interests in realty, diamonds, and schools.He belongs to Raparda village of Bhavnagar. His father, Vallabhbhai, arrived in the city around 40 years ago and started working as a diamond polisher and gradually be came a unit owner. Now the family is prosperous enough for Savani to spend over Rs 4 lakh on each daughter for holding grand weddings.
“It is challenging for a woman who has lost her husband to get her daughter married,” said Savani. Apart from gold and silver jewellery, the daughters get clothes, utensils, and electronic goods needed to start a home. In 2016, 216 girls will get Savani’s help to marry. He is not partial to any religion or caste.
Naheda Banu, who lost her father when she was a child, married Arif in 2014.She said, “Mahesh papa is more than a father to me. I wish every girl in the world gets a father like him.” Hina Kathiriya, who lost her father six years ago, got married in 2015. “Mahesh papa is just a message away when we need him,” she said.