The Madhesis have been protesting against the Nepali state and its newly adopted Constitution, which limits their role. However, the stir has had an unexpected side-effect: cross-border marriages have started falling through.
Marriages between people living on both sides of the Indo-Nepal border have been a long standing tradition. But with the Madhesi agitation along the border showing no signs of ceasing, no marriage party has crossed over to India from Nepal or vice versa, though ten days of the auspicious Hindu marriage month of Mangsir have passed.
“The agitation has indeed subverted more than the Nepalese economy. It has torn to shreds the social fabric across Nepal... With transport and logistics difficult to arrange, many marriages this season... have fallen through,” said Kamalnath Mishra, a teacher at Forbesganj.
Sohan Jha of Debdahi village in Nepal across Jaynagar border had taken a whole year finalising a marriage proposal for his son. But now, he finds no way through the blockade to Kathmandu, where his would be daughter-in-law lives. After days of anguish, he has postponed it.
“There are no buses available to take my relatives to Kathamandu as there is no petrol due to blockade. Even if there were buses, the normal fare of 10,000 Nepali rupees, is now one lakh (Rs 60,000). A bottle of mineral water, which cost 9 Nepali rupees is sold for upto 1,000. Counting the hotel expenses... it will cost upwards of 15 lakh Nepali rupees. What do I do?” he lamented.
A couple who managed to enter a bordering village in Bihar to attend a marriage ceremony had a tough time negotiating the route from Kathmandu to Bihar. “We somehow managed to ‘sneak’ into India after literally being stranded in Kathmandu. My pregnant wife does not want to return till things normalise there,” said Kailash Mishra, who works as textile manager in Kathmandu.
Kailash’s wife Kajal shared her experience on how she had to cope without a LPG cylinder, which is unavailable and costs upwards of 10,000 Nepali rupees.
Maheshwar Gupta, a tent operator in Nepal’s Birgunj, said that his business has substantially dipped due to the protracted violent agitation.
The case of Ripusudan Tiwari, 23, is unique. He has to marry a Nepali girl, whom he met in Delhi. After two years, families of both agreed to solemnise their marriage but the Madhesi agitation, for now, has brought their dream to a standstill.