When push comes to shove, caste gives way

August 20, 2013 10:33 am | Updated 11:17 am IST - Bangalore

Newly wedded Couple Kalamma Pooja and Satish at Rehabilitation centre in Bangalore on Monday Photo: G P Sampath Kumar

Newly wedded Couple Kalamma Pooja and Satish at Rehabilitation centre in Bangalore on Monday Photo: G P Sampath Kumar

If a marriage in Bangalore on Monday is any indication, a section of Brahmins of interior Malnad region appear to be shunning caste and endogamy.

On Monday, an educated Shivalli Brahmin boy from Hornad married an orphan brought up in a government shelter without bothering about her lineage, horoscope, caste or gotra and without seeking the counsel of a priest.

In a simple religious ceremony organised by the Department of Women and Child Development, Roopa, who entered the government orphanage as a six year old, was united with B.P. Satish, who was raised in a highly traditional Shivalli Brahmin family. “There hasn’t been a single inter-caste marriage in my family for centuries. I changed all that,” beamed Satish who works in a college at Sringeri.

What brought about this remarkable revolution?

“We are not the first. A relative too married a girl raised in a government orphanage,” said Satish’s mother M.A. Mahalakshmi. But what happened to caste? “There are more marriageable boys in our community than girls,” explains B.S. Padmanabha, the father.

Then, why not marry somebody from another caste? Why only an orphan? Mr. Padmanabha said that because an orphan has no caste. “Once an orphan marries into our caste, she becomes one of us,” said the mother. What about orphaned boys? Mother: “We are short of girls not boys.” Father: “The girl’s caste is not as important as the boy’s.”

“The problem,” according to R. Shankar, “is that educated and beautiful girls from good families only want to marry software engineers living in America. Brahmin boys from rural areas stand no chance.” Shankar and his friends T.N. Prasad and N.R. Sudhir are the new-age matchmakers within the Shivalli community.

Scouting for marriageable girls at orphanages across the State is fast becoming their fulltime occupation.

They say that the worsening farm crisis and dipping education indices among boys in the community are rendering them ineligible for marriage.

Shankar and Prasad are all for inter-caste marriages as well, but Sudhir is against the concept. “Marrying orphans and converting them as Shivallis is controversial in itself,” said Sudhir.

The groom’s younger brother B.P. Madhusudan, a shy man in his late 20s, is preparing to follow suit. “I too want to get married here,” are the only words The Hindu could coax out of him.

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