There will be no priests – call them Pundit, Maulvi or Father – to conduct the wedding rituals of the under-aged in Patna anymore.
Even hiring band parties for playing music at such weddings would be a tough ask.
For, before accepting any request to play music at baraats, heads of band parties would have to obtain a written declaration from the guardians of both -the would be bride and groom – that they were of marriageable age- 18 years for girls and 21 for boys.
In case, band parties ignore this direction, and were caught doing so, their licence would be cancelled immediately and punitive action would follow.
Even printers of invitation cards for weddings in the state capital would have to secure a similar declaration before accepting the printing order.
These decisions were taken on Wednesday at a meeting of priests of different religions and other players in wedding ceremonies, with Patna district magistrate (DM) Sanjay Kumar Agrawal. They resolved to create mass awareness against child marriage, a social evil, impacting not only the society but also the minor spouses.
Over 80 persons, including priests, owners of band parties and printing card dealers participated in the meeting.
A month after the Nitish Kumar government launched a campaign to discourage child weddings and the practice of giving dowry in weddings, Priests representing different communities agreed to take it as their moral responsibility to change the society by discouraging the evil of child marriage.
Syed Shah Samimuddin Munimia of Mitan Ghat said Islam never accepted child marriage and he would ask all other Maulvis to ensure they did not conduct such alliances. He praised the DM for bringing all those traditionally and socially associated with arranged marriages on a single platform for a social cause.
Acharya Vinodanand Vaidik said the society should focus on girls’ education as this alone would make them aware of such evils. Other Hindu priests, Father J Pete and Gyani Daljeet Singh of Takht Sri Harimandirji, amomg others, assured the administration not to conduct wedding rituals of under aged partners.
The priests even stood up and took a pledge to use their authority to create an environment wherein this practice was given up.
Agrawal said all invitation card printers would also have to print their name in a corner of the card since they were also part of the wedding ceremonies. In case of violation of orders, both the band party and card printers would be taken to task, warned the DM.
The Bihar government had launched an anti-child marriage campaign on October 2, with chief minister declaring it an avowed state policy, while taking upon himself to spread the message. A more stringent law on the issue is also on the anvil.