The wedding celebrations were spread over three days
With two charming ceremonies - Tamil and Maharashtrian-style - Vignesh Krishnaswamy and Ananya Sawant married in Pune on Wednesday. The monsoon wedding was a truly extraordinary and heartwarming affair for the two, both Persons with Down's Syndrome, a condition characterized by the presence of an extra 21st chromosome.
Resplendent in pink and white silk, the couple performed various rituals and walked on a carpet of flowers, holding hands, while their families watched with love.
The 22-year-old bride is from Pune and the groom, 27, works with the hospitality industry in Dubai. Ananya plans to move to Dubai to be with her new husband. As for challenges along the way, the couple hopes to cross the bridge when they come to it.
Vignesh's father Viswanathan says his son had been keen on marriage. "My son is 27 and has seen his friends getting married. So, he wanted to get married too."
The match was made by Vignesh's sister Janani Viswanathan, who is studying in the UK, along with the bride's sister, Ashni Sawant, who goes to a Chennai-based private university.
The families met a year ago and started the conversation.
The wedding celebrations, attended by friends and extended family, were spread over three days, complete with a mehndi ceremony, sangeet, music, dance, and much feasting.
"Even in the US, such weddings are not common. There are dating services for those with special needs but even those are limited. It is a very neglected aspect for young adults with special needs," said a woman who also has a daughter with special needs.
Ranjini Ramnath, director of the Dubai-based Al-Noor Centre that Vignesh went to while growing up, said this was the best wedding she ever attended.
"It was so warm and charming. The parents had made all that effort to make it a special and memorable day for their children and for the family,'' Ranjini said.
"This is a big aspect of inclusion. Like any other couple, Vignesh and Ananya are entering into marriage with expectation and excitement. Ultimately our work is aimed at improving quality of life and inclusion. We don't want those with special needs to be on the sidelines. They matter and must be counted. So the parents went about the wedding, like they would for any other neurotypical child, and that made all the difference."
Vignesh and Ananya met several times in the months before the wedding. They also communicated through e-mail and WhatsApp. "And the bond they have developed was visible for all to see at the wedding," said Vignesh's mother Veena, who is preparing to welcome her new daughter-in-law in Dubai.
"We understand moving home to Dubai, leaving all that was familiar behind in Pune, will not be easy for Ananya. But she is now an addition to our family, and we take responsibility to care for her," Veena added.