Dalit wedding fetes face feudal rage in Rajasthan

Published - July 14, 2014 04:07 am IST - JAIPUR

It was Jaipal’s wedding at Gugal Kota in Alwar on June 21. His father, Roshan Lal, made him ride a decorated horse, at the head of the wedding party, to the bride’s home. But the Rajputs in the village disliked such a celebration by a Dalit family and they would not allow it to go on.

Mr. Jaipal was pulled down from the horse on the road and the guests were attacked. Flying stones hit some of the revellers and some others were beaten up.

Mr. Lal had to pay the price because he decided to celebrate his son’s wedding with fanfare that only the Rajputs used to have in the past.

In the village, not a long way from the National Capital Region, three bridegrooms had earlier ridden horses under police protection. Only on June 18, another bridegroom, Kamlesh Regar, was pulled down from his horse at Tarnavon ka Kheda in Chittorgarh district.

During the wedding season between March and June, nearly a dozen such Ghodi Utaro (pull down from a horse) incidents take place in the State. The upper caste people dislike such celebrations by the Dalits, more so if the bridegroom mounts a horse and goes to the bride’s house with band and music.

‘Feudal mentality’ “This is a typical feudal mentality at work, particularly in the regions with a higher population of Rajputs who believe that Dalits are not entitled to the same privileges as them,” P.L. Mimrothi of the Centre for Dalit Rights here says. While Ghodi Chadhna (riding a horse) is a major function for upper caste bridegrooms, a similar celebration often means trouble for the Dalit families, which have to face the ignominy of Ghodi Utaro .

Earlier, when landlords and upper castes ruled these regions, they would celebrate weddings with customs such as sending the groom on an elephant or horse and a band troop would accompany the bride when she came to her husband’s house. While many things changed after Independence, the feudal thinking continues.

“The Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, is meant precisely for protecting the dignity of Dalits, but even then such incidents are happening,” Mr. Mimrothi says. Though some arrests are made off and on, conviction is almost nil. The Act emphasises the intention of the government to deliver justice to these communities through proactive efforts to enable them to live in society with dignity and self-esteem and without fear or violence or suppression from the dominant class.

Earlier, only Rajput communities were known to oppose such celebrations by Dalits, but now Jats and Gujjars are also not behind, Mr. Mimrothi says.

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