Indian taxi driver’s ‘dress bank’ saves poor brides from financial ruin


1 / 2Nasar Tootha folds a bridal gown at his “dress bank” in Thootha village, Malappuram district in India’s southern Kerala state. (Photo courtesy: Nasar Tootha)

2 / 2Nasira Banu wears a bridal dress borrowed from Nasar Tootha’s ‘dress bank’ during her wedding in Mettupalayam, in India’s southern Tamil Nadu state. (Photo courtesy: Rabbia Banu)

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SANJAY KUMARJanuary 01, 2022

  • Charity has helped provide bridal dresses to 300 struggling families across India
  • Wedding costs are often beyond the reach of lower-class parents, forcing them into debt

NEW DELHI: Rabbia Banu was in despair as her daughter’s wedding approached and the family had no money to buy a bridal dress.

But in early December, two weeks before the nuptials, help came from an unexpected source when a charity run by a taxi driver stepped in to help the impoverished family. 

Nasar Tootha describes his charity initiative as a “dress bank” that helps to ease the burden on those struggling to afford a bridal dress for their daughters.   

Indian weddings are joyous and often colorful occasions that can last for days. But for many families, the celebrations also come with enormous social and financial pressure that some are unable to meet. 

A bridal dress may cost as little as $40 or as much as tens of thousands of dollars, if not more. But even the most affordable ones may be too expensive for lower-class families, who are often forced into debt that they will struggle to repay for years.  

The bride’s family usually bears the brunt of the wedding’s cost. But Banu and her husband, both daily wage workers in Mettupalayam, a village in southern Tamil Nadu state, knew they could not afford even the most basic bridal attire.  

“My husband works as a waiter in a restaurant in the village and, together, we earn as little as $3 a day,” Banu told Arab News. “Buying a bridal dress was beyond our reach.”  

But on Dec. 13, Banu happily married off her daughter in a wedding gown that did not cost the family a single rupee.

The dress came from the Malappuram district in neighboring Kerala state, where Tootha, a 38-year-old father of four, runs his charity initiative.   

“Within three days I got the bridal dress without paying any money or transport charges,” Banu said.   

Her family is one of more than 300 across India who have benefited from Tootha’s wedding “dress bank.”  

The taxi driver said the idea to start the initiative, which is based on donations, came to him two years ago.  

“I met many families who were struggling to afford a bridal dress for their daughters, and I thought of helping them,” he told Arab News. 

Through social media, Tootha started asking wealthier families to contribute to the cause after their weddings.   

“Bridal dresses are not used even once after a wedding ceremony, and they remain unused. I asked people to donate them,” he said. 

Tootha has 600 gowns at a shop he rents in his village, and donors now offer to support the initiative.

Dresses are usually transported by volunteers or bus drivers whose routes go through the destinations where the brides live. The garments are returned the same way. 

“Local people support me and appreciate my charity work, and I also find pleasure in doing this,” he said.

“It makes me happy to bring smiles to the faces of new brides.”


1 reply

  1. excellent. It is such a waste of money to spend so much on a dress being worn only for a few hours. Let others enjoy it too.

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