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Thodu Needa, heaven where marriages are made

| SUNDER RAJ
Published : May 8, 2016, 10:35 pm IST
Updated : May 8, 2016, 10:35 pm IST

Through her organisation Thodu Needa, N.M. Rajeshwari helps the elderly marry so that they could spend the rest of their life with companions

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Through her organisation Thodu Needa, N.M. Rajeshwari helps the elderly marry so that they could spend the rest of their life with companions

“Everyone deserves companionship, even in the final chapters of their lives,” says N.M. Rajeshwari, who, in a bid to felicitate this thought, founded an organisation Thodu Needa in Hyderabad. Her organisation works towards providing emotional support to the elderly; its sole purpose is to build lasting friendship, share ideas, encourage participation and enjoy life with like-minded people and if they wish, remarry.

“A few years ago, I read an article about a man in Mumbai who was helping the elderly get remarried. That’s when the idea of doing something similar here struck me,” she recalls. Many of them toil hard their entire lives by bringing up their children. Yet, owing to various reasons, several of them are left to fend for themselves in their old age, she says. “I wanted to create a platform for these elderly people to choose a suitable companion to live with.”

Today, the organisation has over 600 active members and has successfully conducted over 100 marriages. “We conducted three weddings this year alone,” she says with pride. The only criteria she emphasises on: They should be above 50 years of age and seeking companionship.

Talking about the challenges she had to face, she says, “While there are those who support this vision, I have also had to encounter people who felt this was an embarrassment.” Sometimes this objection would come from their own children, says the 67-year-old. “They feel this as a social embarrassment. Defeating social stigma is definitely one of the biggest challenges we face,” she adds.

Social stigmas have a lot to do with their own insecurities, she says. “Some feel threatened that the new person coming into their lives may take away their property or may not get along well with the family,” she says. Rajeshwari believes that if someone truly cares and loves a person, especially your parents, you should trust them and let them do whatever they feel like doing. “After all, they are your parents,” she says.

Practising what she preaches, Rajeshwari, at the age of 62, got remarried to 70-year-old Damodar Rao after she divorced her first husband 37 years ago. And they did so with the complete blessings of their respective children. She says with a smile, “I didn’t harbour any thoughts of marriage or romance then. But, as fate may have it, we just clicked. I tell his children that I’m here as a caretaker, a companion and as a friend to their father.”