His modest demeanour may suggest otherwise, but for over a decade now, Natwarlal Patel has been making the lives of senior citizens feel a little fuller. His Ahmedabad-based marriage bureau for the elderly, Vina Mulya Amulya Sewa, helps senior citizens find companions in the later years of their lives.
Come Saturday, senior citizens throng Natubhai’s home between 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Hopeful brides and grooms line up with their biodatas to get registered. After the registration is over, Natubhai personally meets the seniors to discuss their concerns and needs. He then suggests prospective partners and gives out their numbers. The candidates take the conversation forward from there.
“We have successfully introduced 15 senior citizens to each other in the last year. Ten of them decided to get married and five couples live together,” says Natubhai with a twinkle in his eye. Over the last year, with word spreading about his initiative, the applications have nearly doubled, with “the number of biodatas shooting up from 3,000 to 5,000,” he adds.
Take Tara and Dhanji Jadhav who got married in 2012. Before her marriage, Tara, 52, was living in Bhuj, Gujarat, with her mother and younger son. Her older son Sushant decided to approach Natubhai. With Nathubhai’s help, he was able to find a match for his mother in ONGC-employee Dhanji Jadhav, 57.
Similarly, government employee Praveen Kumar Srivastava came knocking on Natubhai’s doors to look for a bride for his uncle Jivandas Virdas Sadhu, 60. “My uncle is well settled but has been alone for the last 32 years,” says Srivastava.
Today, Natubhai travels all around the country organizing meetings where senior citizens can meet and choose their partners. “I have organized sammelans (meetings) in Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka,” he says. “Delhi, Chennai and Kolkata are left. Our mission is to find a companion for every elderly person who is lonely.”