Jitendra Patel, has defied taboos by inviting 18,000 widows to his son's wedding. Widows are seen as inauspicious figures in Indian culture. However Mr Patel hopes his gesture will remove the stigma attached to widows and throw light on this disenfranchised part of the Indian community.
Jitendra Patel, a businessman, has invited 18,000 widows to his son's wedding, asking them to "bless" the occasion with their presence,
"It was my heartfelt desire that the couple should be blessed by widows, who are mostly neglected by the society. Their presence is considered a bad omen at auspicious functions but I wanted to prove that all these beliefs are nothing but superstitions," Mr Patel told Times of India.
The widows were invited from five districts in northern Gujarat to Mr Patel's younger son, Ravi, and his new wife's ceremony.
Every widow who attended was presented with a shawl (an item typically given to distinguished guests and honorees as a sign of respect) as well as a sapling for them to plant in their own backyards.
Five hundred widows from poorer families were each given a milking cow in order to help them become financially self-sufficient.