When 31-year-old Bineesh Thomas and 27-year-old Hima got married, the guests remained silent spectators. For, the couple took their wedding vows and followed the wedding rituals in the church completely in sign language.
Kottayam native Bineesh and Hima from Alappuzha, are both speech and hearing impaired. When they decided to get married, Bineesh was particular that they should be able to participate in the ceremony to the fullest.
And so, the church priest Father Biju Moolakkara solemnised the wedding in sign language on Thursday in Kottayam. From the wedding rituals and the vows to the holy mass, everything was done in sign language. As it turns out, this was not the first time a wedding was conducted in sign language in their family.
Bineesh's elder brother Anish Thomas - also hearing and speech impaired- shares with TNM that he got married to his wife Jissa two years ago, in the same way. He says that his family specifically requested Father Biju to conduct the wedding in sign language.
Speaking to TNM, Fr Biju says that Bineesh's family had made the request and that he was happy to oblige them.
"If the wedding was not conducted in this way and they were asked questions during the wedding, they wouldn't know what is going on. Or how to answer. Here, I did everything in sign language and they replied and communicated to me in the same way," Father Biju says.
Father Biju, who runs Navadhwani, an organisation for speech and hearing impaired persons in Kottayam, points out that while parents are either in denial about disability or try to brush it off, it is important for people to be more accepting of differences.
"It was their wedding, an important event in their lives and it is important for the two to understand and absorb what is happening. That way, they could open up more and communicate without hindrance. As far as parents are concerned, they are used to hushing up things about their children with special needs. But why do that? We need to understand that our ways need to change in order to accommodate their needs, too," Father Biju says.
Over the last three years, father Biju has conducted at least four weddings in sign language.