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Barmer dalit bride rides mare in her marriage

A dalit bride rode a mare in her marriage ceremony in Rajasthan’s Barmer district, which was claimed to be a first in the Bheel community.

jaipur Updated: Jun 30, 2018 22:31 IST
Mukesh Mathrani
Mukesh Mathrani
Hindustan Times, Barmer
Rajasthan News
Bijli Vaghela (22) rides a mare at her marriage in Barmer district on Friday.(HT Photo)

A dalit bride rode a mare in her marriage ceremony in Rajasthan’s Barmer district, which was claimed to be a first in the Bheel community.

Riding a mare during marriages is considered a privilege of upper caste grooms in Rajasthan. In many reported cases, dalit grooms who dared to ride mares had been beaten up by upper castes.

Bijli Vaghela (22), daughter of Hemaram Vaghela from Dhorimanna town in Barmer, rode a mare during her ‘bindoli’, a ceremony organised a day before a wedding.

Bijali, who is working in the forest department, married Baldev Rana, a medical student from Sindhary town, on Friday.

Before the marriage, Bijali’s family organised ‘bindoli’ for her. Community members opposed the ceremony; relatives refused to participate in it. But her father, who works in the panchayati raj department, went ahead with the ceremony in which Bijali rode a mare.

“It was quite unusual. In our community, even grooms are told to avoid riding a mare for marriage, so Bijali’s father was asked to cancel the ceremony,” said Sonaram Pala, a social activist and a Bheel.

“For centuries, upper castes and feudal mindset never allowed dalits to organise bindoli. With changing times, some families have started organising it. Such cases are only 2-3%; most of the community members still fear upper castes.”

Sonaram said Bijali and her father had challenged caste stereotypes by organising ‘bindoli’. “We hope that it will be a milestone and inspire the community to break caste stereotypes, which is the need of the hour.”

Bijli said, “People are saying that they are not differentiating between sons and daughters. Even my father said the same. One day I asked my father, does he want to prove it? When my father said yes, I shared my wish that I want to ride a mare during my wedding function.”

It was not easy job for Hemaram as in his community even grooms are not allowed to ride a mare. “At that time I did not think that my father would break caste stereotypes and fulfil my dream. Today I proud on my papa,” Bijli.

Hemaram said, “When my daughter shared her wish, I decided that I will fulfil her dream by breaking caste stereotypes.”

Baldev Rana said he was happy that he had married a girl who not showed courage to break caste stereotypes and set an example for others. “Bijali’s step will inspire other community girls to break caste barriers,” he said.

Bhuvnesh Jain, a researcher on desert tribals, said he had explored almost all aspects of social life of Bheels, but never heard about a bride’s bindoli.

“Bijali has created history which will inspire the community and next generation. It give community members courage to strive to be part of the mainstream society,” Jain said.

First Published: Jun 30, 2018 22:30 IST