The caste system and the associated cleavages are deeply embedded in the Indian society. Caste influences each and every aspect of the lives of Indians. One such aspect is marriage. It is generally upheld that one should marry a person belonging to the same caste, because in this way the marriage will be accepted by not only the parents and the family but also by the society at large. An inter-caste marriage, on the other hand, is considered to be a shameful deed which just humiliates the entire family. But this perspective is changing and nowadays people prefer inter-caste and inter-religious marriages.
What are inter-caste marriages?
This kind of matrimonial union takes place when two people belonging to different castes fall in love with each other and decide to get married. They break the barriers of the caste system and come together to show the world that love knows no bounds. 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 stigmatised even in the 21st century.
It is mainly the people in the rural areas who have to face the brunt of the caste system. 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 ages-old traditions and customs associated with the caste system. This is really disheartening and must be tackled smartly and swiftly.
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 in our hearts we know that these things can never really be ignored. This is more so when it comes to marriages. Inter-caste marriages are not accepted in Indian society because of the following reasons:
- The constant fear of the torture the couple and their family will have to face
- The firm belief that the couple will not be able to adjust to each other’s culture after the marriage
- Accepted societal norms and customs will be broken by the couple which can cast a challenge for those who wish to control
- Family name, honour and reputation will be affected if an inter-caste marriage takes place
- Honour killing is a rampant phenomenon in Indian states like Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, etc., (https://www.oneindia.com/feature/in-pics-unknown-facts-about-inter-caste-marriages-in-india/articlecontent-pf4356-1311186.html) which discourages couples belonging to different castes from getting married
By rejecting inter-caste marriages, the evils of caste system are still being maintained. Fissures and the divide between various groups in the society are widening. Ultimately, the national unity is getting threatened by not approving inter-caste and inter-religious marriages.
15 real problems after inter-caste marriages
We have achieved high levels of growth rate and we have been even successful in removing some form of inequalities in the society. We have made path-breaking developments in technological fields and helped achieve equality in the form of education for all. But these achievements are of no use, when cleavages associated with castes and religions still form the basis of our society.
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 caste system. Knowing the problems faced by inter-caste couples is one step in this direction.
Here are the 15 common issues that inter-caste couples have to handle.
1. The couple is disowned by the families
The couple who show courage to marry each other, despite the disapproval of their families, have to say goodbye to their families forever. They are disowned by their respective families, who cut off all ties with the couple. The conservative values and principles become more important to the families instead of their son or daughter.
2. The couple is ostracised by the community
It is not only the families of the couple that disown and cut off ties with the couple, the community at large also excludes the couple and creates problems in the life of the couple. 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 the Indian society, the couple has to face a lot of societal pressure. No one will support the couple, especially if they have married without the approval of the parents. While renting apartments, landlords might create an issue regarding the inter-caste situation. The couple may have no friends and no relatives may come forward to extend any help
4. Lifestyle differences are difficult to cope with
Obviously, the partners will have different lifestyles and cultures since they belong to different castes. 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 the couples.
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 much more superior and better off than the caste of his/her partner. This will create a superiority complex in the person and he/she might start treating the partner in a degrading manner. Over a period of time, this may lead to resentment and eventually break the marriage.
7. Survival becomes really 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 really difficult.
8. Financial issues are faced by the couple
The couple is left to fend for itself. They get no support of their families or friends. Some of the relatives even create obstacles when the couple tries to earn a living and live their life on their own. Due to all 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 on a regular basis
After marriage, the couple has to listen to taunts on a regular basis. Despite accepting the marriage, the relatives and friends look for ways to insult and humiliate the couple. For instance, the wife is always criticised for her dress sense, her looks, etc. by the mother-in-law, grandmother-in-law and aunties in the family.
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 the difference of opinion regarding which religion or caste the children must follow and so on. What festivals should be celebrated, what God 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
The chances of an inter-caste marriage breaking are very high because there is constant difference of attitude and interest among the couple. Add to that the other social pressures which can mar the love. Therefore, the married and family life of an inter-caste couple is usually considered to be very unstable.
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.
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 in order 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 construct 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 to calm down. Understanding the perspectives of the parents and the families is really essential for having a successful inter-caste marriage.
The couple has to be liberal in terms of accepting new ideas and adopting new habits. Perform your respective rituals and traditions in the house and give the freedom to your children to choose which religion or caste they want to follow. Raise your children in such a manner that things like caste, religion, etc. do not hamper their growth and development.
We hope that one day inter-caste marriage gets accepted by the 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.