A groom pedaled 100 kilometers on a bicycle from Hamirpur to Mahoba district in Uttar Pradesh to get married. And, he brought back his bride on the bicycle too.. Image Source: IANS News

Kolkata, June 20 : Sudip Saha, an IT employee working in a multi-national company was supposed to get married to Sejuti Saha, a civil engineer working in a construction company, in May this year. But on April 20, Sudip developed Covid and a week later Sejuti had also tested positive. Naturally the couple had to postpone the marriage and it is now scheduled in December.

"We had planned for a simple wedding keeping the number of guests below 50. Everything was arranged but both of us had tested positive. Some of my family members were also infected and so we had to postpone our marriage. Presently the situation is not conducive and so we have to wait till December. Hope the pandemic situation will improve by then," Sudip, who stays in South Kolkata, said.

Besides Sudip and Sejuti, the ongoing pandemic has forced many Kolkata couples to either postpone or cancel their weddings, especially since the start of the devastating second wave.

The number of marriages registered with the office of the Marriage Registrar of West Bengal has declined sharply since the second week of April, when the second wave led to a sharp surge in cases, many of which turned critical.

While Sudip and Sejuti postponed their marriage due to compulsion, several other couples have decided to delay theirs so that they can celebrate the day with friends and family.

"At present there are only 50 invitees. I will only marry once and so I want to celebrate the day in a memorable way. So, I decided to postpone my marriage and get married in December or January. Hope things will become normal by then," Subhashis Chatterjee, a state government employee, said.

According to official figures, the number of registrations since end-February is only about 10 per cent of the weddings registered between November 2020 and February 2021.

While the marriage registrar's office has either registered or received applications for 95,000 marriages between November 1, 2020 and March 30, there have been only 3,000 weddings since the beginning of May.

The situation is even worse in June. Applications have to be filed at least a month before the wedding.

"From the second week of April since the number of cases surged sharply, there has been a big dip in registrations throughout the state. Compared with the beginning of the year, the numbers are less than 10 per cent now," a senior official of the Registrar General of Marriages said.

There are several other reasons behind the postponement of marriages.

A marriage registrar said a doctor couple cancelled their wedding in the last week of May because they did not want to expose their parents and grandparents.

"They were getting married at home in Kankurgachi in North Kolkata where members of both families, including parents and grandparents, were scheduled to attend. The couple cancelled the wedding because they did not want to risk the health of their family," the registrar said.

According to marriage officers, only those for whom postponement isn't an option are now getting married.

"In some cases, the groom has come to Kolkata from another city to get married and have planned to leave soon after the infections dip.

"In other cases, the couple who is scheduled to leave the city soon for some other countries are getting married to complete the visa formalities. Otherwise, almost all other weddings have been cancelled," said a marriage officer in Tollygunge.

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