Mathura/Agra, Nov 9 (IANS) Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims Sunday took a holy dip in the Yamuna river and performed rituals in the temple cities of Mathura and Vrindavan on the auspicious occasion of 'Devotthan Ekadashi', which also marks the beginning of the marriage season.
The pilgrims performed the customary puja and took a dip at the Vishram Ghat and Bengali Ghat in Mathura and Banshi Ghat in Vrindavan.
This Ekadashi of the 'Kartik Maas', is also called the second Diwali. Thousands of marriages are already scheduled to be solemnised in Agra.
'The band wallahs (people who play the band) have been practising hard the latest set of tunes for the barats (weddings). And the dowry items this season include computer systems, sofa, washing machines, double-bed, dressing tables, fridge, TV, among others. Also, shops have kept the trucks ready for carrying the dowry items. People have to just mention the amount at their disposal and in a jiffy the vehicle will sail off,' says Sudhir Gupta, a financier of Vijay Nagar Colony in Agra.
A retailer Bankey Lal Maheshwari said: 'The caterers and the marriage hall owners are fully geared to meet the rush. But this season the marriages are conveniently spaced out reducing the pressure, although the prices of vegetables, ghee and other related items have shot up.'
Community marriages without dowry have also become popular. The Lodh Rajputs Sabha and the Mathur Vaishya Sabha, as also the Brahmin Maha Sabha, will organise mass marriages for middle class families.
Surendra Sharma, owner of Goverdhan Hotel where mass marriages of Brahmin boys and girls are scheduled next week, said the response to such marriages is good but things will improve only when people of upper classes patronise them. 'The experience so far suggests that only those with limited incomes come to these marriages.'