The bride wore red. The groom had splotches of red on his shewarni. Red patches of blood that had turned crimson by the time the couple walked around the sacred fire. But then, it was a marriage solemnised in dramatic, and tragic, circumstances.
Dharmendra Saini and Komal exchanged marriage vows past midnight on Wednesday, hours after a wall collapse left 24 people dead and several others injured at the wedding hall they had booked in Rajasthan’s Bharatpur town.
On Thursday morning, Saini (35) recounted the ordeal to HT after returning to his home in Jaipur with his bride.
Family members described their mixed emotions when they decided to go ahead with the wedding.
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“After the wall collapsed, for a moment we couldn’t understand what happened. Only when we saw bodies strewn everywhere around us, we realised the gravity of the situation,” Saini said, looking at the traces of mehendi on his hand.
“Seconds later, all of us were rushing to rescue people trapped under the rubble of the wall.”
He helped pick up the injured, some of them bleeding profusely, and put in vehicles to be rushed to a nearby hospital.
Saini said many lives could have been, perhaps, saved had the police had arrived on time.
“The cops took at least 45 minutes to arrive after the accident and even after that, we didn’t get much help. The hospital to which the injured were taken to, didn’t have any electricity and they were treated under the light of mobile phone torches,” Saini added.
Family members sat in groups, talking in hushed tones about the incident. Others were trying to comfort the bride, numb with shock.
“After the injured were taken to the hospital, the wedding was completed amidst sorrow and fear. We had never imagined that such an accident could hit our family,” said Mukesh Saini, nephew of the groom.
Other family members said it was the hardest decision they had taken – to conclude the marriage despite the tragedy.
Only the most important and unavoidable rituals were performed, they added.
“This incident will forever remain fresh in our memories as even now, all we can think about is the gory sight all around us in the marriage venue,” said Saini, adding there will be no happy memories.
No one took a single photograph of the couple exchanging vows. Not even on a mobile phone.