This Marriage Season, Let’s Battle The Caste System

We compromise on love for the sake of a system that is so restrictive and oppressive. Should we let it control us, the modern Indians?

We compromise on love for the sake of a system that is so restrictive and oppressive. Should we let it control us, the modern Indians?

I have three friends who got married in April. Two of them are had arranged marriages and one, a love marriage. But all of them are within their castes, because apparently marriage within one’s caste is still regarded as a basic necessity somehow. Moreover, the ‘love marriage’ friend had the audacity to say that, “At least I was able to find a suitable guy within my caste”.  Is India and its youth moving backwards?

Sadguru (Jaggi Vasudev) inn his video regarding his own inter caste marriage questioned the whole concept of the caste system. “I am against the concept of inter-caste marriages because why the hell would you identify someone with a caste and then inter?”. He said that he never asked about anyone’s caste, not even of his wife.

I had been asked about my caste very recently in the PG I had moved into, by a girl around my age, and later, when I went to visit a friend, by her old neighbour, who was maybe in her 70s. What difference does it make, whether it’s the youth or elderly, if everyone is so obsessed with caste? I try never to identify with the caste system myself, even when it comes to my surname. But what do we do when even young people believe in such things.

You may think that the problem is very minor, but when you go around asking people their castes, you will see how proudly the “upper castes” will tell you, along with their designated sequence in the caste hierarchy (Shandilya brahmin, maithil brahmin etc), and the other castes might simply tell whether they are OBC , ST or SC, because the names such as Dhobi, Chamar, Teli, Lohar etc. are not something that they feel they are proud of.

The taboo of inter-caste marriage

The problem gets even severe when one gets married into a different caste. A senior of mine and a very dear friend married an SC guy. He had a good job, a personality to die for and was tall (a quality I think is worth always noting). And yet when she saw her best friends getting arranged marriages, she was no longer satisfied, although her husband does everything to make her happy. This is because usually, only a girl is taunted for these things: X’s husband is more good looking than yours, Y’s husband has a better job, Z married within her caste and so on. She was even treated differently by her colleagues. It is at times difficult to not care about what others think of you when you just have one person supporting you, no matter what movies may preach.

When my senior, Nazia, was getting married, two of her ‘upper caste’ besties didn’t eat anything at her wedding just because “Dharam bhrashta ho jaega .”(Our caste will get ruined)

As for the SCs, when I went to out to study for the first time, my roommate was one. While it never mattered to me, she treated me coldly because apparently her father was bullied as a child by other castes. So I think it goes both ways!

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When my cousin was getting married outside of his caste, everyone commented on the girl. She is in Microsoft, currently in Canada, with a salary that’s really high! She is financing my cousin’s MBA. And yet she was judged for her caste and for not being “as fair as her husband”.

In many technical institutes, castes are asked for or found out  in advance and then they are told by seniors, to form relationships. This was done in my aunt’s agricultural college, 20 years ago, in my friend’s college two years ago and currently, is still done in my brother’s college.

I have seen many of my friends and seniors struggling to marry the love of their life only because of a system which is not even recognised originally in Hinduism. Also, i have seen many of my friends leave their beaus, only because of their castes, the examples being all of my friends who are getting married this month. One left her boyfriend and found another one in her caste for “societal acceptance “, another didn’t talk to her parents about her boyfriend at all, and one of them simply broke up; all because of this caste issue. I am not saying that we should break our parent’s hearts, it’s their primeval  thinking which we need to break once and for all and not turn ourselves into those primeval  beings.

Are we really modern?

We fight about the government and about India not progressing. Let me tell you a short story: In the 19th century, Keshub Chandra Sen’s followers left him as he got his daughter married, who was under the age of eighteen at the time, which was a violation of their organisation’s principle of prohibition  on child marriage. His followers were the real ‘modern beings’,  as they practised what they preached. Along with them, Raja Rammohun Roy, Henry Derozio, Pandita Ramabai (married to a Dalit despite being a brahmin, and worked even after widowhood), Rukhmabai and many others were indeed the people who were exceptional for their time, as well as for ours, it seems.

I think you should yourself decide where you stand on this issue: whether or not to fall in love with the person or their caste! Are you really the ‘modern Indian’ that you claim yourself to be?

Image Source: Canva

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Dr Arushi

Often the test of courage is not to die but to live.. read more...

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