Fair is lovely in Bihar's heart of darkness
Hundreds of weddings are being solemnised in Bihar's traditional marriage season in summer called lagan, but many dark complexioned boys and girls - especially the latter - are finding themselves spurned.
In one incident this month, a young woman was killed by her in-laws for her dark complexion while another saw a girl being forced into marriage she refused to tie the knot with a boy for not being fair.
There are dozens of cases in Bihar of marriage negotiations failing because the girl is dark.
Tajmun Khatoon, 26, was killed in Balha-Viswanath village in Samastipur district, about 70 km from Patna, last week for her dark complexion.
A police complaint was lodged by her brother Mohammed Samshul in which he alleged that she was being tortured and harassed by her in-laws for her complexion.
"Her in-laws killed for her dark complexion," the victim's parents told a police official investigating the case. The girl's in-laws are absconding.
In another case this week, Rajni Kumari of Bhukhal Chapar village in Gopalganj district, about 250 km from Patna, refused to marry Bhola Prasad when she discovered that he was dark.
Male elders of the girl's family forced her to marry Bhola. "Her marriage was performed as per Hindu rituals but she refused to go to her husband's home," a villager said. Bhola started squatting in front of the girl's house to persuade her to go with him.
Most of the time though, it is girls who find a suitor hard to come by.
"In their effort to find a suitable boy, parents of girls with dark complexions end up paying hefty dowries," sociologist HN Sharma said Patna.
He said fair complexion guaranteed hurdle-free marriage negotiations. "Only white is beautiful."