Express press service
MADIKERI: From pre-wedding shoots to selecting bridal outfits, the stress, especially for the bride-to-be, is enormous. This is the day when she hopes to be the most beautiful.
However, not every bride can afford a dream wedding, and many young women are forced to stick to simple, inexpensive clothing. The Rainbow Free Bridal Boutique in Kodagu takes those weddings up a notch. Founded by Shaharabanu (20), the Free Bridal Boutique is only a few weeks old and operates from the rural part of Chettalli in the Madikeri taluk.
Shaharabanu, who quit school after finishing PU exams last year, is a YouTuber and also worked as a beautician for a while. The strong vocation to do charity work has manifested itself in the form of this shop.
“I have always looked forward to doing charity work but my family is not very well off. There are many financial obstacles. However, a unique initiative was started by a friend of mine in Kerala which led to the creation of the Rainbow Free Bridal Boutique, a first of its kind in Karnataka,” Shaharabanu explained.
So what’s so unique about this store? It provides free wedding dresses to brides from the economically weaker strata of society. “Weddings are very special for girls, and almost every girl dreams of wearing a special outfit on that day. However, many cannot afford these wedding outfits, so I opened a shop to collect bridal wear from women from wealthy families,” she explained.
She showcased her plan on social media platforms and received positive feedback and support. Responding to her social media post, many women donated their wedding attire, such as sarees they had worn for their own nuptials, and fancy outfits from their trousseau.
The clothes were collected and dry cleaned. “I have collected many wedding clothes, some even from my family members. These clothes will be given to the brides of the weakest sections of society, including orphaned girls who cannot afford to buy wedding clothes,” she said.
“Our generation is very active on social media and we often make new friends virtually. A WhatsApp group of like-minded girls who were on Instagram was started almost a year ago. In the group, one of the girls, who was poor, asked us to help her with her marriage,” recalls Shaharabanu.
However, she felt helpless in the face of her family’s meager income, since her parents, Ameena and Maanu from Chettalli, are day labourers. Despite the obstacles, the girls managed to raise funds and bought their friend a new wedding outfit, she added.
Following the incident, she realized that many girls face this challenge before marriage, which the girls discussed in the group. It was then that one of the girls from Kerala informed her about a shop that donates wedding dresses to girls from poor families. “This boutique was started by a resident of Kannur, Sabeeda, and I contacted her for help. Initially, when everyone was reluctant to donate their bridal wear to my boutique, Sabeeda approached me. helped and brought many dresses from Kannur to Chettalli,” she recalled.
When dresses were donated to two poor girls, residents of Madikeri and Virajpet came forward and donated their wedding outfits. “My house is small. I had to make room to keep the dresses without damaging them. I bought a shelf for this purpose which is in my mother’s bedroom, where the dresses are neatly stored,” said she said “It’s only been 15 days since I opened the shop. There is no prohibition of religion or community of wives. They can book the service and visit my place in Chettalli to select dresses they want from what’s available. They can keep the outfits for themselves. This service is for brides across the state who are struggling with economic hardship,” she said.
To ensure that the dresses reach the needy, she asks the recipient to submit a letter from the relevant religious committees, about the family’s financial situation. In just two weeks, more than 40 brides from across the state have contacted the boutique, and Shaharabanu strives to make their weddings special. “I ask girls to come to my house 20 days before the wedding day. Their happy faces when they find the right wedding dress give me immense pleasure and satisfaction,” she added.