3 August 2012
Last updated at 01:04
Every year, at an event in India, elderly single men and women meet to choose prospective spouses and live-in partners. Photographer Mansi Thapliyal attended this year's event, held in a rented auditorium in western Pune city.
The unique event is the initiative of Natubhai Patel, 63, a former employee of the government's department of statistics. He set up his organisation Vina Mulya Amulya Seva (Invaluable Service Without Any Price) after the devastating Gujarat earthquake in 2001 which killed tens of thousands of people. "So many people were left without spouses. So I thought of bringing single people together to find life partners," says Mr Patel (above).
Entry is free. Participants have to provide their personal information and a photograph. They are given numbered badges, which help to identify them.
Meetings of interested couples follow. Nearly 150 men and women turned up at the first meet-up in a basement in Ahmedabad in 2001. Over the years the event has become more popular, with nearly 200 people turning up this year.
They came from all over India. "Don't be ashamed to be here," Mr Patel told the participants. "Age is no bar for love or marriage."
"There is no maximum age for marriage. No-one can stop two adults from living in either," Mr Patel told participants. Some of them recited poetry and sang love songs to woo partners.
Among the women who came looking for partners were widows and divorcees, many of them looking for a live-in relationship. A 65-year-old woman said she was looking for an "NRI" (non-resident Indian) partner. "Age or fitness is not a factor," she said.
Many women complained that the men were looking for a maid, not a companion. "Why should I go back to the same life?" said a widow. "I spent half of my life looking after and working for my husband. Now I need somebody to take care of me."
Over the years, the event has united scores of men and women in marriages and live-in relationships. However, many men return empty handed as they usually outnumber women at the meet. Many plan to try their luck at the next event.