Mumbai: Woman abandoned as a child, plans huge wedding to help her find her parents

Apr 15, 2018, 18:55 IST | Chaitraly Deshmukh

Abandoned as an infant in 1981 and unable to find her birth parents after years of looking, Jessica Kamalini Lindher decides a big Indian wedding might do the trick

Jessica and Greame during the wedding ceremony, with their children Johannes and Carita in attendance
Jessica and Greame during the wedding ceremony, with their children Johannes and Carita in attendance

Eighteen years ago, Jessica Kamalini Lindher, 38, a Swedish national, began her search for the missing piece in the jigsaw puzzle of her life. She had been abandoned near Sion Hospital back in 1981 and was adopted by a Swedish couple the very next year. In India for the third time in her indefatigable search for her birth parents, Jessica, who is now married with two children, decided to go through a big fat Indian wedding, hoping to lure her parents into coming and giving her their blessings.

Jessica Kamalini Lindher
Jessica Kamalini Lindher

Hundreds of invitations
Jessica, along with her husband Greame Stuart Cokayne, printed hundreds of pamphlets, in both English and Marathi, and distributed them around Mumbai and Pune, explaining her exceptional circumstances and inviting people to the wedding on April 14. "I learnt that weddings in India bring entire families together at one place. That's when Greame and I decided we would have an Indian wedding in the hope that my parents would see the invite, put two and two together and attend it. We have also put out invites on social media," says Jessica.

The wedding invite

'No money for Mumbai'
On why she chose Pune, Jessica says, "Our modest budgets did not permit us a wedding in Mumbai. I would have liked to have it in Mumbai because that is where I was found."

Her husband Greame says, "I completely support Jessica in her search. Finding her parents would be the greatest gift she could ever receive."

Diwakar Gaonkar, the constable who had found Jessica, was at the wedding on Saturday. He told mid-day that he had searched everywhere for her parents at the time, but there was no missing persons complaint filed and no one who came asking about a child. He had then handed her over to Shree Manav Seva Sangh, an orphanage in Sion, from where she was adopted as a 17-month-old.

The wedding
The wedding was held at the housing society of the founder of the NGO Sakhi, advocate Anjali Pawar and her colleague Arun Doble. Pawar has been helping Jessica in her search. The entire society in Dhankawadi was decorated with flowers and lights. A pandal had been put up for the occasion. Right from the engagement ceremony to the haldi, all rituals were performed as per Hindu rites. Jessica even wore a navari (nine-yard) sari during the haldi ceremony.

Pawar, who organised the wedding, said, "We have been helping Jessica for the past year and have met so many officials in the course of it, but have not been able to find even one little clue. Jessica refuses to give up hope, so we will continue to help her."

Jessica says...
At the age of 14, I realised I was different from my parents because my skin colour was vastly different from theirs. That's when my parents told me I was adopted. I decided then and there that I would try and find my birth parents. My Swedish parents are the best, but they did try to dissuade me from coming to India. There is not a day that goes by when I don't wish that my dream comes true. I will never give up my search for my birth parents. I want to meet them and share my life with them.

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