This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Aakanksha Bhatia. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Marrying Outside My Caste Made Me Think About These 6 Myths We Still Believe

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By Aakanksha Bhatia:

Our intriguing encounter with an old gentleman at the IGI Airport, while we were going for our honeymoon, was something that changed my perspective towards inter-caste marriages in India. He was a middle-aged man who was on duty to check the identity document and flight tickets of all the passengers before they can enter the airport. As my husband handed over our documents to him, he gazed at both our passports a little longer than we expected. With a muddled smile, he asked,“Are you going for your honeymoon?” It is quite easy to identify newly wedded couples. I was not deliberately wearing any mark of my marital status as I didn’t want to be tagged as a ‘honeymooner’. I wanted to travel free with my husband. However, my recently changed marital status was pretty evident from the faded henna designs on my hands. For the sake of formality, we replied to him by nodding our heads.

I could sense the sweet turmoil of his spurring emotions. He finally expressed his amusement over the ‘deadly combination’ of our surnames. No, our surnames are not ‘Tata’ and ‘Ambani’! What he meant was that a ‘Bansal’ (Marwari) boy married a ‘Bhatia’ (Punjabi) girl. He seemed to be delighted by our nuptial alliance despite our cultural disparity. He blessed us and expressed his happiness over meeting a couple like us.

It wasn’t the first time that we were receiving reactions from people over our inter-caste marriage. Though the reactions were never harmful, they were often quite intrusive in nature. I couldn’t understand the sudden interest that people had started displaying in our personal life. People wanted to know about, how we managed to convince our respective families, were there any hiccups in our wedding etc. When I tried to answer them, they were never satisfied with what I said. Most of them just sighed at our good fortune! I wondered what is there to be so lucky about! I could not understand why they expected a Bollywood drama in our life where our love suffered objections and restrictions, and ultimately triumphed only when we declared a war against our own families!

I considered this entire ‘inter-caste’ notion so futile. However, as I walked ahead in my marriage and as I started paying close attention to other couples and their family opinions regarding their partners, I realised that autonomy to marry the person you love is not a given in our society. Unfortunately, it is only a ‘luxury’ bestowed upon a few! Perhaps what made our simple love story so extraordinary for others was the fact that despite hailing from different communities, our families accepted each other wholeheartedly.

While we can never effusively express our gratitude to both our families for showering us with so much love and affection, I feel equally appalled for those couples whose families take offense to their love for someone from the other caste. In India, inter-caste marriages can still elicit hostile reactions like humiliating, boycotting and/or disowning the couple. Though there has been a change in the mindsets, a large section of Indian society stigmatise the person who ‘falls in love’ (with an intra/inter-caste person) and is often labeled a rebel. In the instances of severity, many innocent couples have been brutally killed in the name of family honor. Their tragic ends are expediently justified in the name of setting a threatening example for other couples. Is loving someone and wanting to spend the rest of their life with that person too debauched a crime?

I certainly want to believe that every parent and family wants their child’s happiness but often their assumptions about that ‘happiness’ are flawed. Even though their son/daughter may be self-sufficient, the family conveniently considers them naive to make a decision for themselves. Under the garb of their child’s ‘immaturity’, the parents often hide their narrow-mindedness where they condense the entire identity of their child’s love interest to their particular caste or community.

I don’t mean to say that marrying in your own caste or community is wrong, so is nothing wrong with marrying someone from the other caste. The myths against inter-caste marriages need to be debunked that plague the collective mindset of society which in turn forbid inter-caste love and marriages! I strongly feel that this issue should be taken up very seriously in India as we have already witnessed thousands of love stories being tragically trodden upon by traditional mentalities and outdated convictions. Below are some common myths regarding inter-caste marriages that prevail in our society. Please read them to know how reality is stark opposite to what so many people conveniently assume.

Myth 1- Birds Of The Same Feather (Read Same Caste Or Community) Should Flock (Marry) Together (Within Same Caste Or Community)!

Reality – For a successful marriage, a life partner should be chosen on aspects like shared life goals; common interests and passion; and emotional, intellectual and even physical compatibility. Just by matching their kundalis, or getting them married to a person of similar demographics won’t guarantee marital bliss.

Myth 2 – My Son/Daughter Is Contaminating Their Family Honour By Getting An Inter-Caste Person Into The Family

Reality – They are adding an extra colour to the rainbow of your family. Thank your child for gifting you ample of opportunities to explore and learn about another caste and culture. Just try to step out of your comfort zone by mingling with other kinds of people and discover a whole new world of traditions, rituals and culture. Accept not only the girl/boy but their entire family wholeheartedly and then see the magic!

Myth 3: The Inter-Caste Couple Has Ego Clashes Over The Family Rituals, Customs And Traditions During Wedding Ceremonies, Important Festivals And Other Matters In Life

Reality – The mature couple often respects their individual differences and cultural diversities. They would most likely follow both cultures, thus maintaining the rituals and traditions of both the families. The new age couple will be delighted to learn and accept rituals from both the ends. They would happily welcome different perspectives and interpretations of festivals, rituals, and even other life events. In fact, it has been noted that children whose parents belong to different culture and caste are more inclusive and friendly.

Myth 4: My Daughter Will Never Be Able To Adjust In Her New Family

Reality – While the parents’ concern for their daughter is genuine, their excessive worry is irrational. Considering that she won’t be able to adjust in an inter-caste family and that she will always be alienated is a clear product of your socially flawed mindset. Establishing a bond of love and warmth with her husband and in-laws has nothing to do with her caste or socialisation in a particular community. It is about the good family culture and values that she has inherited during her upbringing as well as the values and morals of the husband and his family. It is all about the attitudes and personalities, and nothing about caste or community.

Myth 5: “Punjabis Are Loud, Drink Too Much Alcohol And Are Hardcore Non-Vegetarians.”,”Gujaratis Eat Too Much Sugar In Their Food.”,”Marwaris Expect A Lot Of Dowry Exchange During Weddings”.

Reality: The prospective bride or groom are evaluated on the basis of the prototypical notions about their community and caste. However, with evolving times, there has been a great shift in the lifestyle, customs, food habits and, most importantly, the mindsets of people of all the castes and communities, thus refuting the typical ideas about them. Rather than making presumptions about the person and his/ her family on the basis of existing notions about their caste/community, personal interactions are a far sensible way to know them better.

 Myth 6: And Finally, The Most Sinister One “Log Kya Kahenge?”

Reality – The gossip mills will run even if your child marries someone of your caste. Stop getting influenced by your relatives, neighbours, and society. Stop worrying about people who will not think about you twice. Go ahead and fetch happiness for your child! In fact, you will be setting an extraordinary example by opening your family’s doors for other community to enter. Let more and more people seek inspiration from you. Someone has to make the first move so why not you?

My husband is the first one in his family to ‘do love marriage’ that too with a girl from a different community. We consider ourselves fortunate because, my in-laws, especially my father in-law, showed immense support and trust in my husband’s decision. They have always been so encouraging and proud of my achievements. My home saw a similar scenario. My mother was quite comfortable with my decision to marry a Marwari boy. After meeting my husband, she found him to be quite befitting for me in terms of his personality, profession and life goals. There were no family restrictions, no objections, no wars to be fought and certainly no emotional blackmails with filmy dialogues like “log kya kahenge (what will people say)” or “tumne humari izzat mitti mein mila di (you have tainted the family name)”. It was an enchanting journey of our love being culminated into a lifelong bond of marriage.

I really hope that our story motivates all those who are still in a flux about an inter-caste marriage. A nuptial alliance is not about two people but also about their families. If the intentions are genuine and mindset is liberal and inclusive, an everlasting bond of love and respect can be beautifully designed among the families. It is high time to bridge the barriers of caste, community, religion etc. with love, affection, and respect for each other. Long Live Love!

This article was first published here, on the author’s personal blog.

You must be to comment.
  1. divya m

    Well…you could’ve avoided all the intrusive comments by not flaunting your caste names behind your first name like most South Indians. Atleast when you have kids you can name them without the burden of caste name. This is to all the Sharmas, Bhatias, Mahajans, Kapoors and innumerable other castes.

    1. Venkat Kumar

      I totally agree with Divya. Why do the youth not discard surnames which actually indicate caste/ community etc? Only then, an individual has true love and respect for the other. Thereafter, matrimonial bonding is the next step. Once these become commonplace, politicians will then be able to exploit less on the basis of caste. And India can progress faster.

  2. Raghavendra Rao

    You are both truly lucky to have married your love,especially in India.
    God bless you.

  3. Purushottam Parakh

    Thank you for writing such a beautiful and true experience. God bless both of you and best wishes from my side. I know a lot of people, they know and agree with each and every word you have written. I just want to tell them – “If you see caste in love, mark my words, your love is not true, mohabbat ki koi jaat nai hoti…”

  4. Khushboo GS

    I can totally relate to what you are saying…i am a Baniya girl engaged to a Rajput boy…!!!!
    While our parents are very supportive about everything…and accepted the fact that we really love each other…its our relatives who keep nagging our parents…and create a nuisance…wahi different community wala shit…
    i hope the coming generations dont feel any such pressure to marry within their own castes…!!!!

  5. viji pet

    Very optimistic mentioned it’s the gossip “about what will others say”creates more worries for a worrying parent.its not only that the couple have to be mentally strong,their parents from both sides too have to be mentally strong.
    You are lucky to have such people in your life.God bless both of u.

  6. Vedprakash Pawar

    Such posts will not come beneficial until something we people, who understand the problems of inter-caste marriage, do against it. Something should be revolutionary. Because this problem has not remained one’s personal, complete youth of this country is facing this problem. There are many cases of a suicide also because of love. Loving someone has become a love game. No one cares how he/she’ll suffer with a broken heart. Because they know marriage is not possible. Indian communities be can inter-connected only by inter-caste marriages.

  7. Anonymous

    I feel sad when adults (note when i say adults, people who are financially well settled, know their choice and are willingly going ahead to commit themselves to a particular person), still face this issue in India. Though we proudly show off the speech Akshay Kumar gave in Namastey London. (Seena taan k khade ho jate hai sab), though we are proud of the Manoj Kumar song from Purab Pashchim, Jab zeo diya mere bharat ne, we say India is a beautiful country with unity in diversity, we have failed, we are failing and will continue to fail in future, if these things continue. More than one adult, knowing our duties towards our parents are forced everyday to behold the family respect and sacrifice our love to respect our parents. I m totally against marrying without parents acceptance and have seen many people who think the same, suffer and they suffer for life. Are our elders who taught us love and compassion, not killing the love n humanity by not accepting their child’s happiness? I don say u have to deliberately go and love someone outside your cast and creed. But in this journey of life if u meet your soulmate and apparently they don belong to your caste, all the good person you have been till now just flushes away and u become a “daag” to your parents respect? When will this end? I personally feel only and only when this topic is brought out to the larger mass and when society as a whole starts applauding and welcoming intercaste marriages is when parents would agree the same for their kids. I really want to do something for our coming generations in India … So that don have to go through the same things when they find their love.. What a beautiful journey and life full of love, people can have if people are accepted. But alas, every time a parent is forcing their obedient child to agree to them , they are flushing out one pound love from the community. We need to address this ASAP, before love completely dies in human beings. At least we raising our voice, will bring about a change in people who are struggling to convince their parents.. People please open your eyes. See what your child (who is an adult) has to say about his choice. Off course if the chosen person , is not right by any other means than caste, creed , race and religion , please talk and explain them the same. But do not force marriages on your kid. Outcomes will not be good. Lets make this world a better place to live in…….

  8. Divya Mahajan

    Very true, I still don’t understand why people who are getting married at 30’s are considered kids. While the previous generation used to have two kids at this age.. I believe at this age we know whom to get married and take decisions independently of everything and esp log Kya kahenge.
    I have esp faced this issue when I had to go through whole of the Bollywood drama for my marriage and esp my in laws wanting to talk to my parents (read:guardians coz me at 30 is not capable of taking decisions of my marriage as I am a kid at 30 ? ) for our wedding.
    I believe it is more of an ego issue rather than some logic behind it.

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