Over the past months, Amrita Bhoomi has conducted two inter-caste self respect weddings. The centre has offered its venue to other young people who want to take this path.
The simple self-respect marriage tradition originates in the reformist movement of the Tamilian ideologue – Periyar, who shunned Brahminic priests, rituals, and hegemony. The act of a simple marriage usually includes vows between the married couple and simple celebrations rather than heavy expenses, ostentation, rituals, and dowry, so common in Indian weddings across classes; often leading to indebtedness and tied to social status. At the heart of the practice lies the effort to end untouchability, caste discrimination, and gender inequality. Ambedkar too encouraged inter-caste marriage to challenge the caste system which prohibits marriage outside caste. Those that do take the step are often met with violence and ostracism, even in today’s seemingly modern times. The practice challenges patriarchy by doing away with dowry or ritual practices that put the bride in a subservient position like walking behind the groom around a fire, or washing his feet.
Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha, the farmers movement of Karnataka, has over the years conducted several such simple marriages in alliance with the Manava Mantapa– an institution that supports marriages between inter-caste and interfaith couples.
The weddings at Amrita Bhoomi included a simple organic meal made from the natural produce on campus, some tree planting, and a small celebration by the couples, friends/families, and members of the farmers movement and Amrita Bhoomi.