Monday 26, Oct 2020, Delhi (India)
If it is true that 'Marriages Are Made In Heaven' then the marriage maker in heaven sits with a checklist, ticking caste, color, creed, religion, fashion and beauty trends, and other such aspects before making a match and sending them to live in India?
The Indian subcontinent is a varied and complex society, housing many religions and their structures or concepts. Caste is one such fundamental foundation of many religions existing in India. The Hindus have the most stringent caste system followed by traces of the same in religions like Jainism, Christianity, amongst the Islamic converts of South Asia and others.
The caste system not only defines the limitations and privileges of living but also influences the fashion and beauty, and lifestyle choices.
A caste system is a form of social stratification based on:
The Hindu Caste Stratification In India:
The caste system of the Hindu Religion divides its people into four groups- majorly based on the occupations of their forefathers giving them the birthright to belong to that category/ group.
The highest and most respected in the Varna Chart- Brahmins are the priest clan who are respected and sought for advice.
The rulers and warriors belong to the Kshatriya caste. They are characterized as brave and strong.
The traders, merchants, businessmen, and minor officials fall under this category.
4. Shudras or Sudras
The commoners, peasants, and servants comprise of this subdivision in the caste system.
Subgroup- Harijans or Untouchables
The untouchables as they say (Untouchability is prohibited and was abolished in India in 1950), this category houses latrine cleaners, street sweepers, and the outcaste people.
The caste system has undergone a drastic change since the Early Vedic Period. Many historians, blogs, and history and fashion blog sites speculate that during the Early Vedic Period the caste system solely depended upon the occupation of the person and had no connection with hereditary or occupations of the forefathers. However, with the coming of the Later Vedic Period, the concept of caste shifted to 'Birth' from 'Occupation' making it a reason for disparity and division in Indian society.
The caste system is said to have arrived in India with the coming of the Aryans which can be dated back to 1500 BC. Along with bringing their style of fashion and beauty and customs, they also organized themselves and the non- Aryans in the 4 categories of the caste system to build a societal structure.
Where the Arabs co-existed with the caste system in India, the Mughals recorded and documented the same. With a stringent caste system also rose counter caste movements or Bhakti sects by saints such as Ravi Das, Kabir Das, and many more carving anti ritualistic paths and revolting against the caste system then prevailing across India.
It is believed that although colonization and the Britishers did not design the caste system that is documented in the Vedas yet this benefitted them as it became a reason to divide the population and rule on them through the feeling of superiority and inferiority amongst themselves.
In the 1950s with the making and drafting of the constitution by Dr. B.R Ambedkar and the council, they abolished all the evil/ malpractices of the caste dividing system in India.
"An ideal society should be mobile, should be full of channels for conveying a change taking place in one part to other parts. In an ideal society, there should be many interests consciously communicated and shared. There should be varied and free points of contact with other modes of association. In other words, there should be social endosmosis. This is a fraternity, which is only another name for democracy. Democracy is not merely a form of Government. It is primarily a mode of associated living, of conjoint communicated experience. It is essentially an attitude of respect and reverence towards fellowmen."
- Dr. B. R. Ambedkar in ‘Annihilation of Caste'
In April 2019, BBC published a story about a couple who had fled from their respective villages to get married and have a life together. This couple is still haunted by the fear of being pinned and killed by their caste group as the woman belonged to a higher caste and the boy was a Dalit (untouchable). An engineer by profession the boy had to give up on his job and both of them are mostly on a move changing cities and locations. (https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-47823588)
Such is the fear of getting married out of the caste in Indian society.
Why Do People Prefer Same Caste Marriages In India?
Evils Of Caste System And Marriages In India
A woman can be married to a higher caste in India with the consent of the families but a man cannot marry a woman of a higher caste.
Honor Killing or Ritualistic Murder as most consider it is a result of the rudimentary behavior of the people and their principles of the rural and semi-urban areas. An inter-caste marriage as they see is a crime that they commit going against the family systems. This is generally tackled by hunting the couple down and killing them to keep up to the family and societal respect. India does make it to the list of the countries that record cases of honor killing concerning marriage choices made by people.
Since the British Era, the caste system is being used as a divide and rule agent. To date, many political parties create a vote bank by favoring a caste and suppressing the other. Caste plays such an important role that many blindly vote for people belonging to their caste as they feel that it is a representation of their rituals and system of living.
The discrimination against the untouchables is a dehumanizing practice. Even though untouchability has been abolished, yet in most parts of the rural areas, the Harijans (God's people) or Sudras are not allowed to visit the temples or even take water from the common well of the villages.
"The coronavirus pandemic has underscored that India’s caste system is still very much in existence. In the eyes of many Indians, Dalits remain “untouchable” in a way that extends beyond current hygiene practices."- (https://theconversation.com/indias-coronavirus-pandemic-shines-a-light-on-the-curse-of-caste-139550)
Go through the marriage apps dedicated to India, much would-be community based and others would question on the caste one belongs too. But surprisingly education and exposure through globalization are changing the views of the generations born in the 80s and 90s.
Many would tick on the option of caste doesn't matter on the apps. According to a survey conducted in 2014, about 5% of the marriages registered turned to be inter-caste marriages in India. With education, globalization, government norms and rules and not to forget 'Humanization', inter-caste marriage is becoming the new normal in the urbanized Indian society.
Where many concerns related to adjustments and following the same rituals might seem to be right to the population of India, the new generation is breaking this taboo and venturing into marriages with spouses who do not belong to the same caste or even the same religion.
I Knock Fashion has put in front of its readers through its fashion blog site both perspectives and would leave it on them to decide whether or not one should support inter-caste marriages in the Indian societal system. We hope that the blog has been able to give you a gist of the caste system and its effect on marriages in India.