Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik on Saturday virtually attended the wedding ceremony of a newly-wed HIV-positive couple. At the same time, District Collector Vijay Kulange performed the 'kanyadaan' of the couple in Gopalpur in Odisha's Ganjam district.
Blessing the couple, Chief Minister and Biju Janata Dal (BJD) leader Naveen Patnaik also interacted with the bride and groom via video-conference. The District Collector also presented a cheque to the newlyweds.
The bride Padma and the groom Rabindra were both inmates of the same daycare home, where they lived till the completion of their education. Both of them are now working in Hyderabad.
Ganjam District Collector performing the 'kanyadaan' ritual on Saturday (Photo Credits: Md Suffian/India Today)
"It will send a strong message to the society, that HIV-positive persons have all types of capabilities and they deserve to live with dignity," Ganjam District Collector Vijay Amruta Kulange told India Today.
The District Collector added, "We are happy that honorable CM took time from his busy schedule and attended the ceremony live through video conferencing and blessed the newlyweds."
The couple during the wedding ceremony in Odisha's Ganjam on Saturday (Photo Credits: Md Suffian/India Today)
The social stigma, trauma and discrimination HIV-positive individuals face in society is disheartening. In such a situation, the district administration and Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik coming forward to attend the wedding and blessing the couple sends out a strong message to those who discriminate against HIV-positive people.
Odisha has about 49,000 people who live with HIV/AIDS.
According to the Government of India's HIV estimates report, the country is estimated to have around 23.49 lakh people living with HIV/AIDS (PLHIV) in 2019. "The HIV epidemic has an overall decreasing trend in country with estimated annual New HIV infections declining by 37 per cent between 2010 and 2019," a PIB press statement dated September 20, 2020 said.