- (in present-day India) the practice of not marrying outside one’s caste
- refers to the caste-based endogamous practice
- a form of discrimination widely considered as a custom within the Hindu society
1. Not eligible or suitable for marriage (as per Collins dictionary). (In India today), this could also be a member of an oppressed caste group like the Dalits or a socio-economically disadvantaged group.
Therefore, Caste = Endogamy = Unmarriageability
Stigma of Caste & Class –– And Practising ‘Endogamy’
The stigma of ‘unmarriageability’, as defined above, through the lens of class / caste, could not be found in any of the well-known dictionaries, but the phenomenon is all-pervasive and insidious.
Someone who is studying caste and the annihilation of it, would not be conscious about the present alone but would also examine the past in trying to understand its genesis and roots. It is so because in order to ascertain a practical scheme for the annihilation of caste, what is equally essential is the knowledge of how caste was created in the first place.
The effort to break down the caste system practically begins with the understanding of its origins.
The findings of Dr BR Ambedkar in his paper Castes in India: Their Mechanism, Genesis and Development –– read by him at an anthropological seminar in New York on 9 May 1916 –– that the working out of endogamy is equivalent to the creation of caste, should not be ignored anymore.
Caste = Endogamy. How?
The stigma of ‘unmarriageability’, is a mere derivative of this significant conclusion – that caste is endogamy. Each and every argument about ‘unmarriageability’ is an extension of the accepted fact that prohibition, or rather the absence of intermarriage, is at the heart of the caste issue.
Endogamy is the unspoken ‘rule’, preventing people from marrying outside their caste.
The horrific reality of (some) honour killings in our country, is due to the stigma of ‘unmarriageability’, an extreme form of ‘untouchability’. Those who marry outside their caste, particularly, if a privileged caste member marries a member of an oppressed caste, the former is seen as bringing dishonour to their home and family.
If the younger generations want to change these regressive and oppressive customs, and end casteism, they have to dismantle the practice of ‘unmarriageability’. This realisation is likely to pave the way for the annihilation of caste.
(AB Karl Marx Siddharthar is the author of ‘UNCASTE’ subtitled as ‘Understanding Unmarriageability: The Way Forward To Annihilate Caste’. The author is reachable here: email@example.com. This is a personal blog and the views expressed are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for them.)