Being in Nepal regardless of what generation you are from, all of us know that inter-caste marriage is not something that is widely accepted in our society. While it is not without its own set of valid reasons we have to accept that the reasons on which the concept of inter-caste marriage is shunned are a bit outdated as of the modern era. That being said since there is still the issue of casteism in Nepal even to this day, we cannot say for certain that the fear is totally invalid. So which is it? Is the fear of inter-caste marriage valid in modern Nepalese society or not?
The answer to that is surprisingly simple and it all depends on how modernized your area is. If you are living in a rural area where the discrimination based on caste is still strong then it is not a good idea to do an inter-caste marriage however if you are in an urban area where different castes and culture live in harmony then it might not be such a bad idea after all. This all depends on the mindset of the parents. Why do they think that this practice is bad though and why is it okay to do it?
Why inter-caste marriage makes sense!
For this part, we are going to be looking at why inter-caste marriage is a good idea. While we discuss the ideas and reasons why it is a good idea one has to understand that this all depends on how much casteism exists in the area of concern. Following are 5 reasons why the concept of inter-caste marriage makes sense in the modem world.
1. It prevents inbreeding
People may or may not know this but the chances of your child being born with a birth defect increases by up to 50% if you marry with your immediate sibling. While it decreases with the marriage being done outside of the immediate family the risk will still be higher than if it is done with someone from outside the family. Nepalese society is as close-knit as it is, you never know who your relatives are until you find out and most of the time these relatives are of the same caste as you. With this being said the chance of the person with the same caste being a part of your family tree is significantly good.
To prevent this the concept of inter-caste marriage makes sense. But while saying this it is to be noted that the family tree has expanded significantly in this day and age when compared to the olden times so while the chances of someone of your caste being within your family tree is still good the bloodline would have diluted significantly and it should be generally safe for marriage and the chance of you inbreeding with someone from your family tree is less. Still scientifically speaking the idea of inter-caste marriage holds a significant advantage over the marriage within the same caste.
2. Inter-caste marriage expands and spreads the culture
The concept of this idea is that if two people of different caste get married their offspring will receive the best of both worlds and will be able to understand and comprehend as well as share both the cultures and traditions single-handedly. In this day and age where everything is expanding but cultures and traditions are somewhat dying this says that inter-caste marriage will help the culture to expand as well.
It is a fairly simple idea and logically sounds as well since no parents can totally abandon the culture that they grew up with and would want their offspring to carry on their culture and traditions as well.
3. It creates a bond of family between two castes and cultures
No one wants to harm their next of kin. This is a behavior that makes us human so if people of different caste marry each other there will inevitably be one of them in each caste. This means if people offend or harm anyone of a certain caste where the inter-caste marriage occurred it would naturally offend both the castes and bring the two different castes together as one.
For example, suppose a Newari son got married to the daughter of the Rai’s. If someone hurts or harms the rai family then it would hurt the rai daughter who was married to Newar as well and when this happens the Newari community will be in the support of the Rai’s. The scenario will be the same if the opposite happens as well. In this example the two castes Rai and Newar are united through the bond of marriage and harmony between these two are made. If this happens everywhere then it is not a far-fetched idea of a society where no casteism will exist because of the shared lineage among them.
4. It creates compatible couples
With all being said, it is still hard in the majority of the cases for a couple to be married to someone of the other caste. Due to the difficulty involved in marrying someone they love if they do happen to be of a different caste, most couples will not last long enough to get married. Those who do last long enough to be married will be among those who are willing to go through hell and back just to be with each other. These types of couples will naturally be the ones who are most compatible with one another.
On the offhand that inter-caste marriage is accepted by both the families, the Nepali society still does not view this in a good way and there will always be someone who will complain and backbite about both the couple and the family as well. Furthermore, apart from a few places that don’t mind who marries who much, most communities of Nepal will more or less outcast the couple and both the families in one way or another.
When this happens, the couple will face hardships without any doubt and when they do face these hardships if they do manage to last long enough to have kids, then there will be no doubt that they are among the most compatible couples one can find.
5. Better parenting
We mentioned how hard it is for a couple to do an inter-caste marriage, as most of them break apart before they even get married and only few last long enough to bear kids. We also mentioned that those couples in an inter-caste marriage who last long enough to have kids are among the most compatible couples people will find. They will not only be the compatible couple but better parents as well. The main reason is that since they faced such hardships just to get married with one another they will be more supportive with the love life of their kids and better understand the stress one has to face in one’s love life.
Along with this since the parents themselves would have faced some form of ostracization by the society they would also understand the feeling of being outcast and therefore be an overall better emotional support for their kids. One of the main responsibilities of the parents is to be the main pillar of support for their children and being a strong emotional pillar for their kids to lean on is already a better parenting than what most others will be able to do.
This is not to say that rest will be bad parents but just that parents who have faced the hardships of inter-caste marriage or even a failed one will be a bit more supportive of the emotions of their children in general.
Why does the fear of inter-caste marriage make sense?
Now that we have talked about what inter-caste marriage makes sense, people often tend to think that if it makes sense then why do people fear it or better yet why does this even exist? This is the question that a lot of young-adults of this generation have. To explain this we have compiled the list of 5 main reasons why people don’t accept or fear inter-caste marriage.
1. Harder for the daughter to adjust
We as a general public have noticed that those who are against inter-caste marriage are the families on the side of the girls and they have a perfect reason for them being against this practice as well. Their main fear is that their daughter will have a hard time adjusting to the norms and values of the males family.
If this happens not only will the daughter face some serious mental challenges of having to learn and apply almost everything about the new culture or subculture she is married into but also some form of discrimination till she learns how to perform the traditions well enough from the society she is married into and possibly even from the family itself. While the young adults of this generation are taught how to adjust to a new environment from an early age in schools and later in workplaces, the family still do fear for the well being of their daughter. Due to this reason many fathers do not want their daughter to be married to a guy from another caste.
2. Fear of rejection
If a daughter is married to a guy of different caste, there will naturally be a fear as well as of being rejected by the society for both the family. While this is less common in the urban areas where people of different cultures live in harmony in rural areas where the caste discrimination still exists, this is still surprising common. This would not be an issue if people do not discriminate on the basis of caste but casteism is something that is deeply set into Nepalese society.
The only way out of this is to either shift to a society where inter-caste marriage is accepted or not do it in the first place which is easier said than done. Due to these reasons this practice is feared by the families. Of Course the couple and the families could just ignore the discrimination and society rejecting the marriage but this too is easier said than done because when a society treats a person or a family as if they don’t belong, it becomes harder to do anything in that society for the family and the couple
3. The slow death of the traditions
This point is the exact opposite and the counterpart of the earlier point we made on how inter-caste marriage promotes the spread of culture. While this practice does promote the spread of culture since there is a lack of teacher figure after the marriage for the bride in the marriage their part of the culture becomes diluted a bit and if this continues for a long enough sooner or later, a tradition will face a slow death.
Our forefathers probably knew about this which is why they feared this practice and when one adds the previous points mentioned to this one, then it becomes apparent why inter-caste marriage is feared and unaccepted as it is.
4. Astrological and cultural reasons
This may sound totally nonsense in the eyes of the modern men and to those who don’t believe in astrology but we have to remember that our parents and a lot of people still believe in astrology. While in a few cases astrology does allow for inter-caste marriage, in most cases, astrology does not allow this practice and along with this a lot of culture frowns upon this practice. If you want to learn more about astrology you can check out the link here.
Regardless of if you believe in astrology or not astrology is a science and it is at best a pseudoscience Along with this our Nepalese culture is filled with things that prohibit this practice of inter-caste marriage due to the discrimination that has been going on for hundreds of years which brings us to our last point.
5. Caste discrimination or casteism
The castes were originally divided on the basis of the jobs that a group of people had in order to make it easier to govern them but this soon turned into discrimination based on the amount of manual labor and filth people had to be in contact with. This is how our history states the origin of castes and caste discrimination. Although this is an old and outdated reason for discrimination, it holds that this discrimination process was still in practice up until just a few decades ago. That was the time period when the parents of this generation grew up in.
Due to this very reason many parents still discriminate between castes and still think that one caste is lower than another caste. While not all parents do this we have to admit that more often than not they do discriminate. Due to this if someone is to be married to the family of the so-called lower caste, they are discriminated against and to prevent this the entire generation of our parents still fear the practice of inter-caste marriage.
Inter-caste marriage practice is not something to be feared for the most part as most societies have become more understanding and accepting recently. But regardless of this the practice still exists and is still a steel gate that a lot of young couples have to pass but fail to. It does not make much sense in the eyes of the modern generation but still one has to consider the society they are in before they consider following this practice because as sad as it is, there still are brutal consequences for doing this in some parts of our country.