BARAN, India (Reuters) – Traditional Indian wedding finery gave way to hazmat suits and masks in a remote north Indian village, after the bride tested positive for the coronavirus just hours before her marriage, a local health official said.
The couple, whose names were not made public, decided to go ahead with the ceremony on Sunday in the courtyard of the COVID quarantine centre in Baran in the western state of Rajasthan – their protective gear giving it an otherworldly feel.
Under a bright red canopy and in front of the holy fire, the bride and groom exchanged garlands wearing matching blue hazmat suits, visors and face masks.
The priest, looking like an astronaut in a white hazmat suit and matching hood, chanted verses from Hindu scriptures while traditional wedding songs played in the background.
The bride had been admitted to the centre, where patients are kept under watch, after she and a family member tested positive, health official Rajendra Meena told Reuters partner ANI.
“We consulted with the families and they agreed to get married in the quarantine centre without any elaborate rituals,” he said. Afterwards, both bride and groom were placed in isolation at the centre, part of a network of quarantine facilities set up in almost every village.
Weddings in India are often an elaborate and noisy affair, with hordes of relatives and other guests taking part in celebrations. But several states have imposed restrictions around numbers allowed at marriage gatherings.
India has the world’s second highest COVID-19 caseload after the United States, with over 9.6 million confirmed cases.
Infections have fallen since hitting a peak in September in spite of a busy festival season last month, which saw bustling markets and crowded streets full of shoppers.
(Writing by Shilpa Jamkhandikar; editing by Philippa Fletcher)