‘I gave up my girlfriend because my father said if I marry into another caste my sister will never be accepted by anyone in ours’! ‘Ankita, they want you to convert if the two of you decide to go ahead with this relationship, is it something you are fine doing?’ ‘I received death threats from anonymous numbers because I was a Bihari while she a Rabari, what do I do?’ ‘My girlfriend was beaten up because we want to have an inter-caste marriage’. However forward and modern India maybe some parts are still deeply entrenched in the traditional marriage systems.
Marriage is a sacred institution and signifies a union of not just two individuals, but two families. While in the west people normally move out after tying the knot, in India the joint-family system is still prevalent, and parents have a lot more say in who their offsprings marry. The arranged marriage system is still extremely popular in India and one basic tenet of this is adhering to strict caste rules. Hindus marry within Hindus, Jain with Jains and Muslims, Christians and Parsi’s within their community. It is believed that inter-caste relationships lead to many difficulties and challenges which is faced by the spouses as well as the entire families.
Not just the couple, even entire families are boycotted from their communities and they have to face social ridicule. Plus the partners find it difficult to adapt to each other’s culture. We had a query where the girl wrote that her parents were threatening to commit suicide if she went ahead with the inter-caste marriage and what her options in such a case were? Inter-caste marriages also result in honour killings, even though tabooing inter-caste marriage is illegal according to the Supreme court if India.
Though the situation is changing and people are more open to both inter-caste and inter-religious marriages, this is more in urban India rather than the rural. And even in the most liberal circles, an inter-caste marriage comes with its set of challenges that the couple and the family have to deal with on an almost daily basis.
In this article, we will discuss the problems couples usually face after an inter-caste love marriage.
Related Reading: 10 Ways To Convince Your Parents For An Inter-Caste Marriage
What Are Inter-Caste Marriages?
This kind of matrimonial union takes place when two people from different castes fall in love with each other and decide to get married. According to the Indian Human Development Survey, only 5% of marriages in India are inter-caste marriages. This shows that inter-caste marriages in India are still challenged and highly stigmatized even in the 21st century.
Urban people are more open to the idea of inter-caste marriages, because of access to education, information and appropriate knowledge.
However, in general, love is still dominated by age-old traditions and customs associated with the caste system. It is still believed that love marriages violate values – that the parents must look for a partner for their offsprings and that they know best. Do they?
Are inter-caste marriages successful? Remember inter-faith marriages have always been practiced in India and successfully so, think of Jodha Bai and Akbar? These marriages took place for political, economic reasons and went along just fine. However cut to the present times, even though people have opened up about inter-caste and inter-faith marriages they still come riddled with issues and problems that need to be dealt with and taken care of.
Why are inter-caste marriages not accepted?
Despite the claims, we make that we are modern and things such as caste, religion, economic status, etc., do not bother us, deep down we know that these things can never really be ignored. More so when it comes to the sacred institution of marriage. Inter-caste marriages are not easily accepted in Indian society because of the following reasons:
- Inter-caste marriage is seen as breaking up of centuries-old tradition and messing up the hierarchical system. The staunch supporters and guardians of the system will never let this go easily as in one sense it will mean they are losing control and order. The constant fear of the torture the couple and their family will face is a big concern.
- Strict personal preferences followed by one entire caste- one may be meat eaters while the others refrain totally; one may believe in a certain style of dressing which is a big no-no in another. Adjusting to the other’s lifestyle is seen as a huge hindrance. Perhaps the families will not be involved with each other, etc.
- The strain on the family name, honour and reputation, also diluting the pure race in case of inter-caste marriage is a concern for many.
- Honour killing is a rampant phenomenon in Indian states like Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana which discourages couples belonging to different castes from getting married
- There is also the concept of Gotra that prevails in most parts of north India. Sharing common ancestors is termed as Gotra and many believe that if they share the same gotra somewhere the children are related by blood and hence this can be incestuous and lead to genetic deformities.
By rejecting inter-caste marriages, the evils of the caste system still get validation and carry on. The world is becoming global and we cannot let something that was made centuries ago divide people and communities. But everything said and done even though we may not feel these differences as we fall in love with people from different castes while pursuing our higher studies or in our jobs, turning those relationships into a serious commitment like marriage will have bearings because at the end familiarity does bring a sense of comfort and hailing from different castes is bound to topple that! Inter-caste marriages will bring their unique issues and we present them to you here.
Before you get into it ask yourself these questions!
Because this will need more grit and patience than normal. You must be absolutely sure that what you are feeling is indeed love and the two of you have some amount of compatibility.
- Is it really love or just a passing infatuation?
- Have both of you discussed important aspects like how many kids, whether this will be a joint family or nuclear, how ambitious each os and how comfortable the other is with it?
- Do your life goals align, at least at some basic level?
15 Real Problems After Inter-Caste Marriages
We have achieved high levels of growth rate path-breaking developments in technological fields and helped achieve equality in the form of education for all. But then we also look down upon people marrying for love or the ones who question what has been told. We expect them to solve new issues using their innovative strategies yet in the matter of heart we want them to do as told! We send away to study, encourage them to take life decisions, learn more become independent, but in marriage and love,’ we profess we know better than them’. No wonder inter-caste marriages still face many issues. Read this piece on how love does conquer all.
Two people in love with each other are not allowed to be together just because they belong to different castes – How can we call India a progressive and modern country then? The need of the hour is to deal with the challenges faced by inter-caste marriages in the country in a manner that love triumphs over the evils of the caste system. Knowing the problems faced by inter-caste couples is one step in this direction. Read this sweet story of how this couple taught their parents a lesson on two on love.
Here are the 15 common issues that inter-caste couples have to handle.
1. The couple is disowned by the families
This one of the major issues faced by people going for inter-caste marriages. The couples, who against all odds do marry each other, are disowned for this transgression by their families. They are not allowed to visit or receive any help in setting up their new homes. The families cut ties and some even refuse to speak to them. The kids born from these marriages also lose out on the love and blessings from both sets of grandparents.
2. The couple is ostracised by the community
It is not only the families of the couple that dis-own and cut off ties with the couple, but the community at large also excludes them. ‘One couple wrote that they stopped going to the club as no one would sit with them on the same table anymore.’ Remember even Prince Charles lost his status as a working member of the royal family after his wedding to Megan Markel.
The community people do not interact with the couple and ignore the couple’s existence. In rural areas, they are forbidden to stay in their village.
3. Social pressure makes life stressful for the couple
Since inter-caste marriage is not well accepted in Indian society, the couple has to face a lot of societal pressure. While renting apartments, landlords create issues because of the inter-caste marriage badge. The couple may have no friends or relatives who come forward to extend any help.
4. Lifestyle differences are difficult to cope with
The partners will have different lifestyles and cultures since they belong to different castes. What if one is conservative and the other modern? One is a staunch vegetarian while the other a lover of meat? Often the value systems are very different. For one a certain festival is important while for another a different one. What gets more important? Who celebrates what? How much money is spent on one against the other? This means that they have to adjust and accommodate these differences. A majority of the couples fail to do so, because of which arguments and fights become a common phenomenon among couples. Perhaps the parents see this and hence try and convince children not to take this step or refuse to allow them to marry at all?
5. Continuous interference of the family members in married life
Even if the families approve inter-caste marriage, one notices that there is continuous interference of the family members in the life of the married couple. They try to impose their family and caste norms on the couple at all times. Under such pressures, the love usually takes a backseat and the couple finds itself engrossed in caste politics.
6. Superiority complex may damage the relationship
One of the partners might think that his/her caste is superior to that of the partner. This will create attitudinal and behavioral issues. One may treat the other disparagingly or be dismissive of their options and suggestions, always quoting, ‘but I am better’! Over time, this may lead to resentment and create a deep divide between the couple. This is one of the biggest problems of inter-caste love marriage. Differences in how things are done can be a huge factor that can lead to fights and arguments as well. This could lead to decreasing love and care for each other, eventually adding to the stereotype that inter-caste marriages have a lower success rate of survival.
7. Survival becomes difficult for the couple
Honour killings have become extremely rampant in the country. The National Crime Record Bureau statistics place the number of people killed in the category as 251 in 2015. Mind you, these are only the reported cases. Therefore, it is obvious that the couple will live in constant fear, as their survival will become difficult. In some cases, the couples have had to leave their jobs and relocate to a new country to avoid this. They lose their seniority at the workplace and may not be able to find appropriate jobs without recommendations.
8. Financial issues are faced by the couple
The couple is left to fend for itself. They get no support from their families and maybe even friends. Remember a huge part of a couple starting a new life is the presents they get in the form of wedding gifts! Refrigerator from one set of parents, T.V from another, maybe a maternal uncle buys then kitchen appliances, another gets them an air-con. But with no support whatsoever this newly-wed couple is left to their two salaries (if both are working) to make ends meet! Parents do not pitch in with children, setting up the home either with energy or moral support either. Due to this, financial issues are faced by the couple, which leads to further emotional strain on the alliance.
9. Professionally the couple has to suffer as well
Many times, the couple has to suffer professionally as well. The inter-caste marriage might not be accepted by the respective offices of both the partners and the workplace people might treat the partners with hatred. One may face harassment in the working space and may have to quit on unethical grounds too.
10. The couple has to listen to taunts regularly
After marriage, the couple has to listen to regular taunts. Despite accepting the marriage, the relatives and friends look for ways to insult and humiliate the couple. For instance, the wife is always criticized for her dress sense, her looks, etc. by the mother-in-law, grandmother-in-law and aunties in the family. She would expect her spouse to stand up for it and he may not have the energy or the courage. The couple might be well-matched and happy with each other after an inter-caste marriage but the relatives can play a huge spoilsport with their constant judging.
11. The couple might have disagreements when it comes to raising children
Disagreements might take place between the couple on the issue of raising their children. For instance, there will be a difference of opinion regarding which religion or caste the children must follow and so on. What festivals should be celebrated, which God/s to be worshipped, what cultural ethics to be imparted – and this may take a toll on the relationship.
12. Instability in the inter-caste marriage
Normally, friends and family jump in to help the newly-weds in their fights and issues. They advise, mentor and guide. They distract and help vent off steam between couples too. But in an inter-caste marriage, this support is usually missing. Besides, friends and family are not emotionally or otherwise equipped to help as they do not get the context themselves. The chances of an inter-caste marriage running into trouble are higher because of the constant difference in attitude and interests- cooking, eating habits, how to decorate the home, how to be around in-laws. Therefore, the married and family life of an inter-caste couple is usually choppy. Every small argument has the potential to be about ‘yours’ or ‘mine’ Are inter-caste marriages successful? Yes, they are, but needs Herculean effort and huge dollops of patience!
13. Psychologically inter-caste marriage is exhausting
If the inter-caste couple is unable to live up to the expectations of each other then the couple is bound to regret their decision and blame each other. As a result, the couple will get frustrated and remain unhappy with each other.
14. The children of the inter-caste couple also face discrimination
The children of the inter-caste couple are always in a dilemma of which caste or religion they belong to. Even when they are asked, they fail to give a clear-cut answer regarding this, due to which they are treated differently by other people. They feel even more confused than their peers and cannot identify with the popular zeitgeist.
15. Inheritance related issues are common in an inter-caste marriage
Generally, both families fail to accept the inter-caste couple, due to which inheritance related issues become common. The inter-caste couple may have to deal with property and wealth disputes to get their rightful share.
As you can see, the inter-caste couple has to go through a lot of family problems and troubles to be together and have a happy married life. By being prepared to face these issues and supporting each other at all times-, an inter-caste couple can succeed in having a prosperous married life.
Related Reading: When You Can Date Anybody But Marry Only Within The Community
Coping tips when you have an inter-caste marriage
Good communication, understanding, and love in an inter-caste marriage can help make a strong and long-lasting relationship between the couple. Inter-caste marriage has to be built on the foundations of true love, respect, honesty, trust, and sincerity. The families of the couple have to be given enough time and space. Understanding the perspectives of the parents and the families is essential for having a successful inter-caste marriage.
The couple has to be liberal, be more accepting of new ideas and adopting new habits. Respect each other’s native rituals and give space to the other to carry on the way they want to. Raise children in a manner that caste, religion, etc. do not hamper their growth and development.
We hope that one-day inter-caste marriage gets accepted by Indian society and paves the way for national integration of the country. It is high time we leave our narrow mind-sets and prejudices behind and help our country progress in the true sense of the term.