Inter Caste Marriages

    Inter Caster Marriage in India -                 

                                                   An Overview

The concept of caste system and religious discrimination are like a bane on the path of India's progress. For centuries Indian society especially Hindu society has been divided on the basis of caste system and religion. The caste system is one of the greatest social evils plaguing our country today. It is acting as a powerful social and political divisive force in our country at a time when it is absolutely essential for us to be united if we wish to face our nation’s challenges. It is a curse on our country which must be speedily eradicated if we wish to progress. Caste remains a major obstacle in creating an egalitarian India.
One of the most effective ways of undermining the caste system is to encourage marriages across caste divides. No less a person than B.R. Ambedkar held this view. Yet, there is no dearth of horror tales of social opposition to such marriages.
For years Indians had an orthodox mindset.
There are various reasons because of which parents flinch away from inter-caste marriages:
  • They fear of the societal norms and social standing
  • Loss of reputation.
  • The cultural difference- they believe that the couple will not be able to settle down and religiously follow each others' culture.
  • They believe that the children born out of the inter-caste marriage will not be perfect
  • Torture that the family and the couple has to face at the hands of the society
They couldn't imagine marriages beyond the same caste. They had a conception that marriages are only possible in the same community and caste. Those who dared for the inter-caste marriage by violating the social norm had to face the consequence in terms of violence, social boycott, family boycott and death (honour killing).

 Honour Killings :

                An honour killing( also called as customary killing) is the murder of a member of family or social group by other members, due to the belief of the perpetrators that the victim has brought dishonour upon the community.Even in this twenty first century, honour killing is practised in most parts of India when there are cases of inter-caste marriages. Honour killings are seen throughout the country but is observed in a higher trend in Northern India.

Caste is such a rigid and water tight compartment in Indian society that it is almost next to impossible to think of a marriage between a higher caste and a lower caste. It is expected that with modernization, development, increase in educational level etc., the impact of social forces like caste, religion, various taboos etc. become weaker. The society is expected to become more broad minded, forward looking and tolerant. India has already embarked on the path of modernization, development, westernization etc. Against this background, therefore, from the researcher's point of view, it will be quite interesting to analyse if there is any changes in marriage patterns in India especially the inter-caste marriages. The available literature on the subject is also scanty. The recently conducted national level survey in India (NFHS-3) gives the information on marriages, castes of women and men in India. This study is an humble attempt in that direction. The results of which are shown.

             In India the percentage of inter-caste marriages is about 11 percent out of which in 5.58 percent cases women marry to men of lower caste and in another 5.38 percent cases, the women belongs to lower caste but husbands belong to higher castes. Generally it is expected that with more development and education, the force of caste factor becomes weak and thereby increases the incidence of inter-caste marriages. The southern region of India is socio-economically more developed than other regions of India. So, applying the same logic inter-caste marriage is expected to be more common in the southern region than other parts of India. But analysis shows that inter-caste marriage is only 9.71 percent in southern part of India. It is found that inter-caste marriage is highest in western region (17 per cent. Some states are showing about 20 percent inter-caste marriages. For instance inter-caste marriage in Punjab is 19.90 percent, in Sikkim it is 20.00 percent, in Goa it is 20.69 percent and in Kerala it is 19.65 percent. The states showing very low percentages of inter-caste marriage are Jammu and Kashmir (4.82 per cent), Rajasthan (3.03 per cent), Chhattisgarh (3.40 per cent), Madhya Pradesh (4.39 per cent), Bihar (6.14 per cent), Meghalaya (2.04 per cent), Nagaland (6.67 per cent) and Tamil Nadu (2.96 per cent). The states having moderate to high intercaste marriages are Haryana (18.50 per cent), Tripura (16.00 per cent), Gujarat (15.49 percent), Maharashtra (17.00 per cent) and Karnataka (16.41 per cent). It is quite interesting to note that there is not a single instance of inter-caste marriage in tribal dominated state of Mizoram.

Given below are two case studies illustrating the problems facing couples who do inter-caste marriages.

Case Study 1: Ilavarasan-Divya 


Case Study 2:Hakim-Mehwish 


                                                                      - Mukhil Warner (CH12B042)