Celebrating more than five decades of love: Dhanalutchmi fell in love with Panjavarum’s melodic voice

Panjavarum Govender and Dhanalutchmi celebrated their 52nd anniversary. Picture: Supplied

Panjavarum Govender and Dhanalutchmi celebrated their 52nd anniversary. Picture: Supplied

Published Jan 26, 2024


For Panjavarum Govender and his wife, Dhanalutchmi, putting God first, showing each other love and respect, and spending quality time together have been their secret to a successful marriage spanning more than five decades.

Panjavarum, 77, and Dhanalutchmi, 69, of Yellowwood Park, celebrated their 52nd anniversary on January 2.

The couple met when Panjavarum, who was 23 at the time, visited a relative in Chatsworth in January 1971.

Dhanalutchmi, who was 15 at the time, lived next door.

“I was staying at my aunt’s house for a short holiday, when I saw the most beautiful girl with long hair and the loveliest smile next door. I instantly knew I wanted to marry her,” said Panjavarum.

Dhanalutchmi said she found him to be handsome and respectful.

“He spoke to me with respect and we quickly became friends. Soon after, his family approached my family for marriage, which they agreed to. He visited regularly and some of my fondest memories were playing carrom board together. He playfully kicked my toes under the table and looked away,” she said.

Dhanalutchmi said she also fell in love with Panjavarum’s melodic voice.

“He always sang love songs in the Tamil vernacular. He knew that was the way to my heart; even to date. When I am upset, he will start singing and it will make me smile again,” she said.

Panjavarum said they married in a traditional Hindu ceremony at the Verulam temple in 1972.

“We had about 200 guests and served a variety of vegetable curries, including ginger curry, which was quite common back then. I wore a suit and Dhanalutchmi a red and gold sari,” he said.

The couple then moved to Panjavarum’s home on a farm in the Inanda Tea Estate.

“It was a big transition for me as I was a city girl. There were no facilities such as electricity on the farm and the toilet was outside. I had to adjust fast but it was worth it as I was with the person I truly loved,” she said.

The couple have two sons, Clive, 51 and Claude, 48, as well as three grandchildren.

Dhanalutchmi said their greatest challenge was leaving their young children at home as they had to work.

“At the time, Panajavarum worked as a store clerk at a shoe factory and finances were difficult. I managed to get a job in a design room when my youngest son was about five years old. My husband and I used to catch a train to the Durban CBD early in the morning, before the boys were awake, and return late in the evening.

“By then, the boys were already asleep. I cried some days as I missed my children. But we quickly prepared a meal and woke them up to eat together. It was the sacrifices we made together that made our relationship stronger,” she said.

Panjavarum said one of the key factors to a successful marriage was communication.

“We always talk about what is bothering us and find a solution. In a marriage, you cannot ignore each other. This will break any relationship or bonds that you have built. We always apologise and express how much we love and respect each other. We also always tell this to other couples, especially the younger generation,” he said.

The couple said they spent their days cooking and gardening.

“My husband is a great cook. He taught me when we first got married. We also have a beautiful garden. He enjoys planting vegetables, while I love planting flowers. We enjoy going out to the movies and spending time with our family,” said Dhanalutchmi.

To celebrate their anniversary, their son, who lives in Johannesburg, took them to lunch and they spent time at the beach followed by a get-together with family at their home.


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