Expensive wedding dresses that go unused after a wedding now bring joy to the faces of brides from poor financial backgrounds in Kerala. In a new model for charity, Dress Bank offers expensive wedding dresses free of charge to women from poor families.
Nasar Thootha, from Perinthalmanna in the Malappuram district of Kerala, launched the Dress Bank project in March 2020. In less than two years, around 200 brides from financially weak families were able to dress for their wedding in bridal gowns. costly under the project, which now has many donors and takers from many parts of Kerala and even other states and abroad.
The Dress Bank now has a collection of around 1,000 expensive wedding dresses. “Right now there is a collection of around 1,000 traditional bridal outfits that are suitable for Muslim, Christian and Hindu brides. Market prices vary between Rs 5,000 and Rs 50,000. Contributions come from other states as well as NRIs. Some financially weak families in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu had also approached the Dress Bank, ”said Nasar DH.
The 44-year-old former NRI has been actively engaged in charitable activities since returning to Kerala from overseas eight years ago. Seeing the plight of many financially weak families who struggled to purchase expensive wedding dresses and other wedding expenses inspired Nasar to start the Dress Bank Project.
With the support of family and friends, Nasar first pooled the once-used wedding dresses and began gifting them to brides from poor families in the locality. His initiative has garnered a lot of appreciation and publicity through social media and word of mouth. Nasar then began to receive contributions from various parts of the state and outside.
Nasar says almost all the dresses he receives are only used for a few hours and are like new. But he washes them dry before giving the dresses to others. Although he doesn’t ask families to return the dresses after use, some families do, he says.
Nasar initially operated the clothing bank from his home, but later a friend of his offered a one-room store for the business in his locality, Thootha, about ten kilometers from the town of Perinthalmanna. Nasar, who is a taxi driver, usually opens the store on Tuesdays and Sundays.
Nasar added that there aren’t many requests for groom outfits, therefore, he doesn’t have a lot of outfits for the bride and groom.