"To live happily as a family, we need to have good couples as good couples become good parents and good parents create a healthy society which is void of the prejudice of caste, creed and religion. For a better nation and crime-free society, everyone should learn skills to make home a healthy home."
What will be your first reaction if you receive a WhatsApp photograph titled Dulha Dulhan Course or just Dulhan Course written over it?
Surprised? Shocked? Astonished...and the reactions just won't stop here and it would go on and on with several lines and taglines scrolling across the reel of your mind.
Even I was surprised when I received a WhatsApp photograph titled Dulhan Course.
'Seriously? A course for the brides?' was my first reaction and I thought this could not be for real.
The photograph also had a contact number and out of curiosity, I dialled the number.
When I spoke with Ilyas Shamsi- a Hyderabad-based social worker and the man behind this online course, my point of view changed as I found this course isn't like the one I thought it to be when I first saw the photograph.
Shamsi has been actively working for over 20 years and in these years he has worked in various sectors like the modernisation of Madrasa, and also campaigned for rainwater harvesting pits.
Swachh Bharat Abhiyan and cleaning campaign during Bakrid festival with Municipal and Telangana State Police are the other fields he has been associated with.
Shamsi even has an Assam connect. He worked with former Assam Chief Minister late Tarun Gogoi during the 2012 Bodo conflict and he was a part of a peace mission to Assam.
Presently, he is working as the Honorary Advisor to the Telangana State Minorities Commission.
On being asked as to how did the idea of offering online classes to couple pop up, Shamsi said, "This is not an idea, this is a mission and outcome of two decades of experience dealing with family issues, couples' counselling to strengthen their marital life and lessen the burden in family courts."
"We had a number of courses for professional life, but for personal life, there was nothing to groom our relationship- whether with our life partners, partners, lovers, parents, children, neighbours or the society," he added.
"Earlier, we used to live in joint families and this had a positive impact on us as we grew up. We learned for the other family members about a lot of things that helped to shape us our life happily," he added.
"But as the joint family culture gradually began to fade away, we also began to lose out on various things- especially happiness and dealing with family issues," he further said.
In fact, Shamsi also launched an institute called Family Institute India to spread his work and mission far and across.
Speaking about the institute he said, "We launched the Family Institute India by organising workshops and small meetings in the initial stage."
"We focussed on some important topics to strengthen the relationships among couples. We used to offer offline classes with selected topics," Shansi added.
"The courses became popular and because of it we began to offer online classes as well since 2018," he said.
The online classes are imparted via PPTs and videos and they mainly focus on topics like what is Marriage, why marriage, understanding mantra (How to build understanding), patience in a relationship etc.
Issues like dealing with one's partner (read husband or wife) are also taught in these classes.
Tips to woo the partner, the importance of decision-making in family life, list of foolish expectations, and common mistakes by couples are the other areas the course deals with.
"In total, we have 15 courses and a candidate can select either one or can opt for the complete course," Shamsi further informed.
All this time there was just one question in mind- why was the course named Dulha Dulhan Course and not something else?
"It is purely a marketing strategy. Earlier, we had promoted the course as Dulhan Course, and this led to a lot of misunderstandings," Shamsi informed.
"After a number of experiences, we finally decided to call it the Dulha Dulhan Certificate Course and it has been approved and enrolled as a skill development course in Shridhar University's online mode of education," Shamsi added.
On being asked to share his experiences since the inception of the course, Shamsi said, "This is difficult to explain as we had learned a lot from the general public, who have been our biggest critics. This helped us to groom the concept and finally, it has been shaped in a professional manner."
The course is open for anyone and it doesn't require any specific qualification or educational degree and anyone can apply.
"People from all walks of life without any age barriers love to attend the classes. Not only India, but we also get queries from across the world," Shamsi was quick to add.
"The course was free initially as it was mainly a social issue that we were dealing with. But later we began to face multiple problems like absence of students, time passers, observers, administrative expenditures, operational costs and so we decided to fix an amount of Rs 500 per class and the duration was of one month where we conducted 15 classes," Shamsi informed.
"However, for the complete course, one could pay Rs 5000. The course is still free for people belonging to financially weaker section and destitute," he added.
"Depending upon the availability of trainers, we generally enrol over 80 students each month," he further informed.
"Many people think the course is mainly for the brides and the grooms. However, our main focus is on families or soon-to-be families. With some content flexibility, we called it as Pre Marriage and Post Marriage training," Shamsi further said.
"To live happily as a family, we need to have good couples as good couples become good parents and good parents create a healthy society which is void of the prejudice of caste, creed and religion," he further said.
"For a better nation and crime-free society, everyone should learn skills to make home a healthy home," Shamsi concluded.
Partha Prawal (Goswami) is a Guwahati-based journalist who loves to write about entertainment, sports, and social and civic issues among others. He is also a published author.