At Marcellus, we remain keen observers of social change because far more the GDP growth or the prognostications of economists, social change is often the most telling indicator of lasting economic change. This piece in The Print is in that regard representative of how India is changing. Says Jyoti Yadav: “As media drones circled overhead, thousands of people from at least 10 different villages congregated around an open field in Bijrad village, Barmer. All eyes turned skyward as a smart grey R66 Turbine helicopter appeared, bearing not a head of state or billionaire, but Dr Tarun Meghwal, the 23-year-old son of two Dalit schoolteachers, who had come to fetch his bride on 13 December 2021. It was a moment of arrival, actual and symbolic, that the family had been waiting for.”
As is inevitable in any society, the rise of formerly oppressed castes is not exactly a cause for celebration everywhere else: “Just over a fortnight earlier, in Salera Khurd village, Udaipur, another Dalit wedding party nervously prepared to make the 400-metre journey from the house of the bridegroom, 28-year-old Narendra Meghwal, to the nearby Char Bhuja Temple. But even though they were accompanied by a 40-strong police escort, the family’s worst fears came true. A mob of 15 lathi-wielding Jats brutally attacked the bridegroom, who was on horseback, and his relatives. “Utaro isko ghodi se (Get him off the horse),” one of them shouted,”…
The horse, in fact, was the trigger for the attack. In feudal Rajasthan, Dalits have traditionally been proscribed from certain wedding rituals, including the bridegroom arriving on horseback. Several incidents of Dalit weddings being hijacked by irate mobs have made headlines recently, leading to the Rajasthan government issuing a circular last month to police stations about making appropriate security arrangements ahead of such events.”
20 years ago the Dalits might have backed-off in the face of such threats. In today’s India it is a different story: “Yet, despite the threat of violence, many Dalits are continuing to defy caste-based strictures and are using pomp and ceremony to assert their pride….It was this desire that also inspired the helicopter wedding, even if the rental cost set the family back by over Rs 7 lakh. Tarun Meghwal, the bridegroom, told ThePrint why the couple’s arrival on a chopper was so important to the family. “When I got engaged, my parents expressed their desire for their bride to come in a helicopter. All our lives we have seen Dalits being attacked for using horses in wedding processions. So, we wanted to do something different. It was my parents’ wish.””
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