Madhubani (Bihar), July 13: Saurath village in Madhubani District in Bihar holds a unique fair every year when marriages are arranged after holding negotiations in the midst of mango groves.
The marriage fair is called the "Saurath Sabha" and the patrons are mainly Maithili Brahmins. Hundreds of parents gather at the fair to find a suitable match for their wards.
After fixing the matrimonial alliance marriages are solemnised.
The practice of conducting such a fair had almost ended, as the parents of the boys started demanding dowry. The demand for dowry started picking up in the seventies.
Members of the Saurath Sabha, however, revived the old custom of conducting matrimonial fair. Youngsters have been prodding their parents that they are more interested in finding a match than getting dowry.
The social pressure has helped in the revival of the fair. The organisers of the Saurath Sabha have also been making arrangement for priests who help in matching horoscopes.
Dr. Shekhar Chandra Mishra, the secretary of Saurath Sabha, says: "After 1976, the practise of holding a marriage fair was on the verge of extinction. To bring it back to life, we have been calling upon the youth to come forward and take part in this fair. We have appealed to government many a times but in vain."
This matrimonial fair is usually organised during Jyestha - Aasadh (June to July) as per Hindu almanac. The popular venue of the fair is generally mango groves.The boys are keen to have an accomplished bride, and do not demand dowry and accept whatever 'gifs' are offered voluntarily.
Govind Kumr Jha, a bridegroom, said: "I will accept whatever will be gifted to me."
The parents generally look for an accomplished daughter-in-law.
Shailendra Mohan Jha, the father of a to-be-bridegroom, said: "I have no demands. If the bride's family wants to gift something to their daughter or organise a gala celebration after the event, we have no problem with that. As far as gifts are concerned, if they want to give something it is a welcome. The expenses of the wedding should be borne by the girl's parents. "
Saurath Sabha's priest and registrar of marriages, Vishwamohan Chandra Mishra, said: "Everyone comes here, doctors, big landlords and even big merchants".
Progressive Maithilis feel that Saurath Sabha is an ideal medium to curb the menace of dowry.
Boys from cities patronise the Sabha as they find educated brides to suit their lifestyle in a modern society.