The village of Bhiyansar in Jodhpur, Rajasthan follows a bizarre tradition of marrying off young girls when an elder dies.
A report published in The Indian Express today tells the story of 16-year-old Bhagwati from the Bishnoi community, who was married at the age of seven, when her grandmother died. "I did not know what marriage meant," she told the newspaper.
Eight other girls including her sisters were married the same day, with the youngest on two-months-old.
As shocking as this practice sounds, it isn't confined to the Bishnoi community or to Bhiyasnar village.
Aidan Singh Bhati, a retired professor, told the newspaper that such a tradition of mass marriages when someone dies is common among Jats and OBCs in Rajasthan.
Noting that scarcity and economic distress have driven this practice, Bhati said, "parents often thought that since people would anyways have to be invited on the occasion of someone's death or the wedding of one daughter, it would be an ideal moment to marry off all other girls in the family regardless of age."
Although they get married at an early age, the girls do not leave home until they are 18 or 19, The Indian Express reported. For Bhagwati it meant discovering that she was married to alcoholic who was unemployed.
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