Maharashtra couple runs half-marathon to marry

Satara: No ‘ghodi’ (mare), cars, ‘saat pheras’ or a cacophonic wedding procession for a fitness crazy couple from a Maharashtra village who got married here. Instead, they ran a whopping 25 km to the marriage registrar’s office.

The couple from Kaloshi village – bride Poonam R. Chikane and bridegroom Navnath J. Dighe – a professional marathoner, undertook the unique wedding run in order to spread the message of health and well being.

Dighe has also completed the annual full Mumbai Marathon in the past.

The duo was clad in a sporting gear of track suits, but both wore the symbolic red turban. The 50-plus ‘baraatis’ (wedding processionists) were similarly clad in sporting gear of T-shirt and tracks, as hundreds of amused villagers assembled to witness the unusual marriage.

“Our unique marriage was to spread the message of health and physical fitness,” a panting Dighe told media after completing the run successfully with his breathless bride.

Another intention for Dighe, a small businessman of printers, and Poonam, a private tutor, was to avoid unnecessary lavish spending on the wedding.

The run started from a common point in Medha to Satara, at the office of the Registrar of Marriages, where they solemnly exchanged vows and garlands amid loud clapping and cheering as they became husband and wife.

According to Dighe, it had taken quite some convincing skills before both the families agreed to this unique marriage and supported them.

The Marathon Association Satara (MAS), of which Dighe is an active member, came forward to host the ‘running wedding’ and launched a campaign on social media which elicited excellent response.

Villagers and teenaged students en route made up for whatever was lacking in the wedding by putting up welcome banners and posters, presenting flowers or garlanding the young couple, performing aarti, blessing them and joining the run for a while.

The entire ‘running wedding’ was completed at a comfortable pace in about 210 minutes (three-and-half hours) before terminating at the marriage registrar’s office for the official formalities.

After the wedding, the MAS office bearers Kamlesh Pisal and others felicitated the newly-weds and their families and lauded them for spreading the message of good health.

In the past, Maharashtra has witnessed several such unique weddings – like a couple getting married in a hot-air balloon 600 feet above the ground, another couple tying the knot hanging on ropes above a 600-feet deep valley, and one couple climbing the state’s tallest mountain, Kalsubai Peak for their marriage.