Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Intercaste Marriage?

My blog attracted quite a number of people from outside Malaysia. Most of them are Tamils from India. I made a few good friends this way. 

An Indian friend of mine recently started a topic on inter caste marriage. Well we exchanged our views and he felt that although one of my idea was good, he doubt it can ever happen in the present era. 

A radical one which will surely be rejected by the Tamils in Tamil Nadu. Perhaps we can try it in the diaspora.

The usual war cry echoed by most Tamil political party (without sincerity!) is eradication of caste. But not many responded to it in the way they wanted. 

Their only victory was eradication of caste surname but people still marry among their own caste. Only 1.3% of weddings in 2011 (Tamil Nadu) were inter caste weddings. The caste sentiment is still strong there.

Of course it has many ups and downs. 

I am of the opinion that inter caste marriage is not wrong but it should not be at the expense of your own roots. On other words, not knowing your own roots should not be the consequences of inter caste marriages. 

This is because the Tamil society is in such way that we cannot separate the castes and clans from Tamil heritage. It is all inter linked and bonded by kinship. Once you forget your own roots, you will start loosing your own identity.

So you can marry someone of another caste if that is going to guarantee you a better life but never forget who you are. 

Unfortunately many people think that to marry someone of a different caste, you need to sacrifice and forget your own identity. A wrong concept.

So how does one maintain their identity and also not be against inter caste marriages?

My suggestion:

1. Use your caste surname as family names. Thevar, Mudaliar, Udayar, Pillai, Nadar, Konar, Chettiar, Kaunder, Moopanar, Naicker, Padayatchi etc. 80% of Tamils have caste surnames and there are over 2,000 Tamil caste surnames.

2. Since you now use it as family name, it is only natural that your children marry someone from a different family name. i.e Thevar-Servai, Pillai-Mudaliar, Udayar-Chettiar etc. Just like what the Chinese or those in the Western country do.

3. The inter caste marriage can happen without sacrificing your own identity. For as long as the surnames are passed down by the fathers, roots will be remembered. Every surname has a history of its own. 

But wait, we have problems.

Firstly, among the diaspora, we have dishonest people who may lie about their origins. Not all with the Pillai surname are actual Pillais. The diaspora have no caste certificates like in India to check on this unless their respective associations do something about it. This caused many people to be defensive about their own identity although they may not speak openly about it. They then tend to become hostile towards others.

Secondly, many orthodox minded people in the diaspora believe that if caste surnames are used as family names, their children will end up marrying someone with a different surname. For example, an orthodox Mudaliar may not like to see his daughter marrying a Pillai. He may want her to marry another Mudaliar. The orthodox minded people are very particular to the extend that marriage among different sub caste is not practiced although they are part of the same caste group.

For these reasons, my idea may never work in the present era. But I believe it will be a logical solution for the future. We get to encourage inter caste marriage and also maintain our identity.

Perhaps not today, 
Perhaps not in another 100 years, 
But some day the society may consider it.

- Comments

1 comment:

  1. This is an good idea... The ancestry roots will still be remembered! But keeping in mind the current situation in tamil nadu.. This theory is gonna remain hypothetical for next two centuries :)