Eight years ago, when Saloni, a transgender, fell in love with Gulam Nabi Ansari and the couple continued their relationship, they faced opposition from their families and were ridiculed by people.
But, the couple's joy knew no bounds when they tied the knot at a mass wedding function held for transgenders in Chhattisgarh yesterday.
Fifteen trans-women married their partners at the function in Raipur.
First such event for the transgender community in India
Evoking a line from Shah Rukh Khan-starrer film Om Shanti Om, 33-year-old Saloni said, "If you want something from the bottom of your heart, the entire universe conspires to get it for you."
She was among the 15 trans-women who got married at the mass wedding function, which is said to be the first such event for the transgender community in the country.
Function conceived by Raipur-based transgender, social activist Vidya Rajput
The one-of-its-kind function was conceived by Raipur-based transgender and social activist, Vidya Rajput, and her team.
Both Saloni and Ansari hail from the Nagpur district in Maharashtra.
Speaking to the media, the couple said, "Initially, we decided to keep our relationship a secret. When we told about it to our families, they did not accept it, which is a common problem for transgenders."
Couple decided to live together after SC's 2014 verdict
In 2014, the Supreme Court recognized transgenders as a "third gender", ensuring they enjoy constitutional rights and freedom, following which Saloni and Ansari decided to live together openly.
When asked how they convinced their families, Saloni said, "We kept visiting our families during festivals and other occasions and eventually persuaded them to accept our relationship. It was difficult to make them understand our relationship."
Never imagined our dream will come true, said Ansari
"Like others, a transgender also wants love and support and has the right to live a married life. We tried to get married earlier, but could not. When we heard about this event, we immediately contacted the organizers," said Saloni.
Ansari, 28, said they never imagined their dream will come true in Raipur, located around 300 km from Nagpur.
Another trans-woman, Ishika was easily accepted by her in-laws
The story of Ishika, another trans-woman from Raipur, is slightly different, as she was accepted by her in-laws when her boyfriend Pankaj Nagwani told about their relationship to his parents.
Nagwani's mother said she doesn't care what other people think.
"I have already accepted Ishika as my daughter-in-law. I don't care about people who used to mock my son over his relationship," she said.
The function took place at Pujari Park Marriage Palace
It was a festival-like atmosphere at Pujari Park Marriage Palace in Raipur where the mass wedding function took place as per the Hindu traditions. The marriage procession was taken out from the Ambedkar Bhawan in Civil Lines area to Pujari Park.
'We also have right to be loved and get married'
Rajput said transgenders suffer loneliness and a kind of social boycott.
"We decided to organize a mass marriage for transgenders to send across a message to people that like other citizens, we also have the right to be loved and get married," said the social activist.
"On Valentine's day this year, we met transgenders who were in relationship but hadn't got married," Rajput added.
Trans-women from Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Maharashtra, West Bengal
Rajput said she also contacted couples from other states for the mass wedding. Of the 15 couples who tied the knot at the function, seven were from Chhattisgarh, two each from Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar, and one each from Maharashtra and West Bengal.