Madhya Pradesh: Dalit family defies upper-caste diktat, hires band for wedding | bhopal | Hindustan Times
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Madhya Pradesh: Dalit family defies upper-caste diktat, hires band for wedding

The dominant upper caste community in Mana village had decreed that no family of “low social status” should have a band as part of their marriage procession. At best, they could have a dhol – a two-headed barrel-shaped drum – for musical accompaniment.

bhopal Updated: Apr 25, 2017 12:20 IST
Pramod Carpenter
Dalit
A police team reviews security arrangements before the start of the wedding at Mana village.(HT photo)

Like any other parent, 45-year-old Chander Meghwal of Mana village wanted to give the groom a grand reception at his daughter Mamta’s wedding on Sunday.

However, a band is de rigueur for a marriage ceremony in the Malwa hinterlands to be called grand. And therein lay the rub.

Chander is a Dalit, and the dominant upper caste community in the village has decreed that no family of “low social status” should have a band as part of their marriage procession. At best, they could have a dhol – a two-headed barrel-shaped drum – for musical accompaniment.

A few upper caste members even threatened Chander of dire consequences if he tried to become their equal by hiring a full-fledged band. But Mamta, a class 12 student, wouldn’t be cowed down. Reiterating their right to celebrate happy occasions in ways they deemed proper, she suggested that they approach the district administration for help.

Mamta, a Class 12 student, plans to continue studying after her marriage.

“Upon receiving Chander Meghwal’s application, we told leaders of the village’s upper caste community that it was illegal to prevent anybody from hiring a band for their marriage procession,” said sub-divisional magistrate GS Dabar.

Some, however, remained unconvinced. They told Chander that he and his family would be subject to social ostracism – or worse – if they went ahead with their “band-party plans”. So, sub-divisional officer of police OP Sharma stationed a law-enforcement team comprising three inspectors and a dozen police personnel at the village from Saturday night.

The next morning, a new tradition was born in Mana village. A band accompanied a Dalit’s daughter for the Ganga Poojan ceremony and, later that day, the groom’s procession was welcomed with a musical fanfare hitherto witnessed only at upper caste weddings. And even as the villagers celebrated, a team of police personnel kept their eyes peeled for troublemakers.

Mamta seemed visibly pleased. “I want all my sisters to have weddings as grand as mine,” she gushed.

But while Chander smiled for the cameras, he didn’t seem overly cheerful. “I wonder how the upper castes will react, now that I have defied their age-old tradition,” he was heard telling a policeman.