A groom married his bride’s sister after his soon-to-be wife died during the wedding ceremony, Times of India reports

Surabhi was expected to wed Mangesh Kumar in Uttar Pradesh, India Thursday night when ceremony rituals began, but as the bride and groom were exchanging garlands as part of jaimala, she complained of uneasiness and suddenly collapsed. A doctor was called and she was pronounced dead after suffering a heart attack. 

Mangesh asked Surabhi’s parents that they move forward with the wedding by having her younger sister Nisha take her place, and they agreed. With Surabhi’s body in the next room, Mangesh and Nisha got married. Surabhi’s brother, Saurabh, commented, “It was a bizarre situation as the wedding of my younger sister took place while the dead body of my other sister was lying in another room.” 

“We have never witnessed such mixed emotions,” Surabhi’s uncle Ajab Singh told News 18. “The grief over her death and the happiness of the wedding has yet to sink in.” 

Radha Patel, who’s the founder of South Asian matchmaking site Single to Shaadi, tried to make sense of the bizarre circumstance, telling USA Today that Surabhi’s parents likely approved of having Nisha stepping in because “they wanted to keep it in the family.” Patel recalls a personal anecdote about his own mother who opposed the idea of marrying her brother-in-law after her aunt died during childbirth. Since her parents didn’t overrule her refusal, the option to have his mother take her place was no longer considered.