In what is being seen as a big thumbs up to inter-caste marriages by the Khap Panchayats steeped in tradition, the Satrol Khap in Hisar has given its approval for inter-caste marriages. This small change is being hailed by all in the media because this simple act has in the past triggered massive bloodshed in the name of honor killings. To be specific, they have given their approval for marriages between caste, but same-gothra marriages and inter-village marriages (within 42 km radius) are still banned.
This piece of news had us thinking. Sure, Khap Panchayats have always been making news very frequently, and mostly for the wrong reasons. But is this reflective of the urban, educated society too or India at large?
We have been connecting our members to each for over two years now. Our members are well educated, typically independent, enjoy their modernity but are also rooted in tradition, they like making their choices but also respect their parents’ wishes. So we figured, why not do a quick check on what our members have expressed as partner preferences when it comes to religion and caste? The answers surprised us, to say the least.
61% of our members have said that they would prefer someone from the same religion, but community was irrelevant
37% of our members have said that they are willing to meet members of any religion
To be honest, we had expected the number of members who would prefer a partner from their own community to be higher than 2%.
In fact, the numbers don’t tell the whole story. Since our counselors speak to every member who registers, we know the rationale behind many of their stated preferences and values. For example, many of the 61% have clearly mentioned that the reason they prefer someone from the same religion is because they think that it would be too much of a change for their respective families to accept. Note that even five years ago, the answer would have been that they personally would not have preferred a person from another religion. Times have changed and people are more open minded.
Interestingly, many of our members even mentioned another fact in conversation. They feel that if they had fallen in love with a person from another religion at their work place or at college and had gotten to know them well over a few years, then even religion would NOT have mattered. They feel that it matters here and now, because the time from meeting someone online and getting married is relatively short.
What is your take on this idea? Are Indians really opening up to the idea that underneath, we are all the same?