A thousand poor couples looking to get married had their big day today at Thiruverkaadu, outside Chennai. The mass wedding was hosted by chief minister J Jayalalithaa and paid for by taxpayers. The bill? A cool 4.5 crores.
The wedding was sponsored by the Hindu Religious and Cultural Endowment Department. Each couple was given a four-gram gold mangalsutra, a silver ornament for the bride, wedding apparel, and 21 utensils.
The chief minister said that the state government had taken care of the travel, accommodation and food for the couples and their families.
The Tamil Nadu cabinet was present at the wedding. As a mark of their loyalty to their party chief Amma, AIADMK partymen had erected hundreds of banners and flex boards on her route to the venue.
The opposition has been quick to bite. "Let Jayalalithaa spend from her pocket for these free weddings," said PMK leader Dr S Ramadoss. He alleged that local administration officials have "worked like wedding brokers over the last few weeks, hunting for couples; many of the chosen beneficiaries are allegedly already married."
The same money, he suggested, could be used to combat diseases like dengue, or to address the state's massive power problems.