Pune: The charity commissioner’s office of Maharashtra state has brought out a circular asking religious institutions across the state to use the money lying unused with them to fund mass weddings, especially for daughters of farmers, considering the agrarian distress and the large number of farmers’ suicides. The letter appeals to religious institutions to make these funds available on a ‘voluntary’ basis.
The letter dated March 6, says the funds with the religious institutions are public money and should be used for betterment of the people. The letter says that the burden of daughter’s wedding has become a major reason for indebtedness of farmers and thus causing their suicides. Thus, the dormant funds should be used to help girls from farming and poor families get married. This will help them feel ‘that someone is looking out for them’, the letter says.
Shivkumar Dige, Charity Commissioner, said this decision was taken due to the growing agrarian distress. “Not only farmers but some of their daughters have also committed suicides. This is a serious issue that can be resolved with a little help from these religious institutions,” Dige said, adding, “Education is important, but marriages are inevitable in the rural areas.”
“We have directed the religious trusts across the state to register themselves under section 41 (c) of the Maharashtra Public Trust Act and get their funds regularised. Then opening a bank account, they can voluntarily make a certain amount available for the purposes of mass marriage ceremonies,” Dige said. The letter says the trustees will be the signatory authority on the bank account.
The commissioner has appealed to all to let only people on the stage of the wedding to have the rice ‘Akshata’ and others be given flower petals. When asked what is the number of marriages expected to happen under such arrangements, Dige said it is a substantial number.
“We think this facility will help arrange 3,000 to 3,500 marriages,” Dige said, adding, “These religious trusts have funds of hundreds of crores lying dormant. These funds can be utilised.”