If you are in love with someone from a different caste or religion, you probably have a tough road ahead in convincing your parents to agree with your choice. Intercaste marriages are challenging for several reasons.
1. Indians don’t seem to like inter-caste marriages
Data collected by reliable surveys show that India’s preference for intercaste marriages is very low. According to the India Human Development Survey (IHDS) conducted by the National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER), only about 5% of the 42,000 households they acknowledged intercaste marriages.
What’s more surprising is that there is not much of a difference between rural and urban populations in India when it comes to preference for intercaste marriages!
2. You can get married out of your caste and then get murdered!
Couples face immense family problems after intercaste marriages. It seems Indians don’t just register their dislike for inter-caste marriages only via surveys. Some of the regressive families take matters into their own hands and hand out a death penalty to the offending couples!
Honor killings, a sudden disappearance of the bride / bridegroom, ‘suicides’ (that’s how they are reported to the police), are real consequences of crossing the caste boundaries. These incidents don’t just happen in Bihar or Haryana. Even economically developed states like Tamil Nadu has deep-rooted misgivings against inter-caste marriages.
3. Nobody will come to your support after an inter-caste marriage
Because intercaste marriages are an unpopular concept, couples who elope to get married find themselves cornered. They strain of severing all ties to family members and the possibility of being discovered puts a heavy toll on their lives.
In many cases, they will have to relocate to a new city and build their lives from nothing. Here is a poignant story from one such victim!
But, don’t despair and not all hope is lost! We have created a step-by-step playbook that will help you in convincing your parents about inter-caste marriage and navigating the marriage ceremony itself!
Step 1: Understanding your parent’s worldview
Your parent’s background and worldview about caste can determine how easy or difficult it is for you convince your parents.
1. Orthodox: There are parents who are thoroughly orthodox and will not let their children marry out of the caste / religion at any cost. These parents believe that marrying out of the caste is a setback to their prestige or standing in the social circles and an affront to their religion / beliefs / traditions.
2. Don’t care about caste / religion: There are parents who actually don’t care about caste or religious affiliations. They just want to make sure that the children make the right choice when it comes to marriage! These parents have a liberal opinion about intercaste marriage as they might have married out of their caste or been exposed to a different culture outside India.
3. Middle of the road: There are parents who don’t care about the caste as long as the caste has a better social standing! This opinion is rooted in the idea of arranged marriages as a means to climb the social ladder or create a better economic future.
Here is a video that will give you a wide cross section of parent’s opinions about inter-caste marriages and love marriages.
Wondering why Indian parents are against love marriages and intercaste marriage? We analyzed the psychology of how parents think and came up with tips on how to overcome their objections. Click here to read this blog post.
STEP 2: The art of breaking the news to your parents
Once you determine which camp your parents belong to, you can frame a strategy to break the news. Pick one from the below options depending on your situation. There are different approaches depending on how your parents view intercaste marriages.
1. Direct approach: Round up your parents up and break the news! This is a ‘shock and awe’ approach that will be a start of a major battle of attrition. Whoever gives up first will lose!
This battle may go through the following stages:
Parents will first express outrage.
Some of them will even beat the crap out of the son / daughter.
They may ask you to get out of the house and not show your face again.
If you stand firm, this anger will graduate into emotional blackmail and pleads.
They will have some of your relatives to drive some sense into your brains.
If you go ahead and marry without their approval, they may not show up for your wedding.
If you lucky, they may change their mind once they see that you are happy and the relationship gets back on track.
There is a distinct possibility that its curtains for your relationship with you parents forever!
2. Indirect approach: Share this news with someone in your family that’s close to you (anyone other than your parents). Pick someone who has a lot of influence / goodwill with your parents. Confess your secrets and explain to them why your choice is good for you.
The idea here is to make this relative your ally in your quest to convince your parents. The job of convincing your parents falls on this relative. You will face the brunt later on once the cat is out of the bag, but you can deflect the initial anger and rage away from your path.
3. No decision is also a decision: This approach involves playing along with your parent’s wish to get married but saying no to everyone they present! Eventually, they will get fed up and ask if you have anyone in mind 🙂
4. Leverage familiarity: One way to out-flank your parents is to introduce your love interest to your family just as a friend and nothing else. Let your love interest spend time with your family members and gain their trust over a period of time before you break the news! This strategy works well if your family is not too orthodox as they may not even entertain your ‘friend’ especially if your friend is of the opposite sex 🙂
If your parents are orthodox, the indirect approach should be your approach to breaking the news about your love interest and the possible intercaste marriage.
STEP 3. Convincing your parents
When we look at the 5% of the intercaste marriages, we can make a couple of logical conclusions:
1. Intercaste marriages do happen!
2. Some of the couples that chose intercaste marriages must have managed to convince their parents!
When we look at couples that have a successful intercaste marriage, there are some lessons that you can draw upon in order to convince your parents.
You need to see how many of the above points are in your favor and act accordingly.
Sometimes, you should choose one over the other. It’s either your parents or your love interest. Be ready for this. But, don’t be foolish as well. If you cannot survive as a couple independently, don’t take rash decisions.
Are your parents against intercaste love marriage? Here are 7 expert tips to convince them! Click here to read this comprehensive blog post.
STEP 4: Handling inter-caste marriage ceremonies
Assuming you are able to convince your parents about the intercaste marriage, here are a few practical tips to help you navigate the wedding rituals:
a. Intercaste wedding rituals involve a lot of compromises. Both the families would want to do everything as per their cultural practice or norms. From your side, please make sure their tussle doesn’t hurt your relationship with your fiance!
b. Some intercaste marriages end up having separate wedding rituals on different dates and locations. In a way, its a lot more fun! Example: One of my cousins married as per Hindu traditions and then had a ceremony at the Church at a later date.
c. Compromises are inevitable in intercaste marriages. For example, non-vegetarian food may have to be skipped if the other party is sensitive to such preferences.
d. Some couples forgo all ceremonies and just organize a reception. This is a great option if you think the drama of your families butting head is too much to handle.
e. In many cases, the girl’s family calls the shot in terms of marriage rituals as they end up footing the bill! This boils down to negotiations between the parents.
Check out this video of an intercaste wedding ceremony for your inspiration!
Riteish is a Maharashtrian Hindu and Genelia is a Christian. Their inter-religion wedding ceremony was stunning and involved two separate events based on Hindu and Christian wedding rituals.
Are intercaste marriages successful?
There is no statistical data available to conclusively declare the success or failure of intercaste marriages in India. There are many notable marriages in Bollywood that have stood the test of time. There are divorces and separations as well (As it was the case with actress Amala Paul recently).
However, the right question to ask yourself is are you ready to deal with the three common challenges of intercaste or inter-religion marriages?
Challenges you should overcome for a successful intercaste marriage
1. Cultural differences and rituals: Dress habits, food habits, and even language can create a lot of friction in the long run. After marriage, as interaction with the in-laws and the extended families increase, you will have to deal with situations where your spouse may not meet your expectations.
2. Dealing with children: Many inter-religious couples raise their children to practice both the religions or in some cases decide to embrace one religion. This can potentially become a flash point in the future.
3. Social pressures: Intercaste couples in rural areas of India face immense social pressure. Honor killing is common in India and even in big cities renting houses can become a challenge when the landlord is picky about your family situation!
If you are one of those countless young Indians grappling with questions like “Why are Indian parents against love marriage?” or “How to convince parents for love marriage?”, look no further. We have lined up awesome expert advice on why parents oppose love marriage and how to make them see your point of view!
Parents are against love marriage, but this is bound to change eventually
Here is an interesting data point from the India Human Development Survey, conducted by the National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER) and the University of Maryland.
First of all, arranged marriages are not going away and continue to be the preferred way for people to get married in India.
At the same time, love marriages or, at least, the practice of exercising greater choice by young men and women continues to grow. Just look at the chart below. You will see that a greater percentage of younger women meet their husbands before marriage.
This point becomes even more important as the below trend was from 2012 and we can reasonably conclude that this trend should have become stronger ever since. While meeting husbands before arranged marriage does not automatically mean love marriage, it does indicate a growing preference to exercise choice in the matters of marriage.
That’s not all. At least in urban India, especially large metropolitan cities, online dating is becoming increasingly popular. It was recently reported that the dating app, Tinder, saw a 400% increase in the number of downloads in India and that women are more active in dating apps like Tinder.
Now combine this with a widespread prevalence of male-dominated cultural limits on women and you have a recipe for a major clash between young people and their traditional parents. One of the outcomes of love marriage and intercaste marriage (which are love marriages anyways), is “honor killing”.
The clash of traditional mindset of our parents with the increasing tendency among young Indians to embrace modern ideas like dating is probably the reason why Indian parents are against love marriage.
7 tips to get your parents to accept your love marriage
We have decided to combine real life lessons and also borrow proven principles of negotiations and apply these lessons to help you convince your parents. As always, we rely on experts and scientific research to substantiate our points where we can. So let’s begin.
Tip 1: Learn from your friends and family
Photo via Alamy
You will not be hard pressed to find a few friends and family members who’s parents are against love marriage. These examples provide clues for how to convince parents who are against love marriage.
A young lad from Bangalore wanted to marry a Japanese woman. After the initial drama, he went ahead and married her. After marriage, they are leading normal lives.
A girl wanted to marry out of her caste. The family disowned her and refused to attend the wedding. After she had a child, everybody is back to talking terms and all the drama before the wedding seems like a distant dream now.
A south Indian man joined a spiritual organization on the insistence of his parents. He met and fell in love with a north Indian woman (from another caste) working for the spiritual organization. The parents were against it initially but because the head of the religious organization gave his consent, they relented. The marriage was successful and everybody is happy now.
Each of these real-life stories has some lessons for us. The common thread among all the above stories are:
People chose their partner based on love and perceived “compatibility”.
They refused to back down from their decision.
People that chose to marry outside their caste and nationality were financially independent. In other words, they were ready to walk away from the family.
They believed in their cause and luckily, they have had a successful marriage so far.
Their spouses tried their best to win the hearts of the families that rejected them.
Parents who rejected the idea initially did not take extreme measures such as suicide or hire goons to set things right.
Parents were not financially dependent on the children that wanted to defy their wishes.
Parents eventually realized that the decision was sound and came around to accepting it.
All you have to do now is to figure out what is your situation with respect to the above points and see if the balance is in your favor. I don’t think your family is in a state of mind to accept rational arguments. Taking a calculated gamble is the best way forward. The gamble could be to get married to your love interest against your family’s wishes or break off the relationship in light of your family’s opposition. Obviously, you want to get married to the love of your life!
Tip 2: Negotiate like a child
You wouldn’t have noticed something that parents face all the time. It is children and their negotiation tactics. They throw tantrums, win over through sympathy, approach the parent that is likely to say “yes” or pretend to fall sick. Most of the times, they end up getting what they want eventually.
When you bring up the topic of love marriage at home and you know your parents are against love marriage, you probably braced yourself for a stern opposition. Unlike a child, you are overcome by empathy and go through an incredible anguish that can potentially derail your plans. According to Adam Galinsky, people who empathize during negotiations tend to lose out!
In the book titled “How to negotiate like a child” by Bill Adler, Jr gives us practical ways to borrow the negotiation techniques that children commonly use to get what they want. Here is a simple lesson you can apply to great effect:
“All children quickly learn that there is no unified, single mind known as “The Parent.” There is Mommy and there is Daddy, and they have different personalities, weaknesses and abilities. Sometimes it’s better to ask Mommy something; sometimes it’s better to ask Daddy.”
Some of you may say, “In my house, there is only one parent that calls all the shots”. In that case, Bill Adler suggests other useful techniques to deploy.
Playing one parent against the other is a great strategy. Approach the “relatively more liberal” parent and win their approval for your love marriage and have them negotiate on your behalf.
Another strategy would be to take your time and stick to your guns till you reach a point that your parents give up!
When it comes to announcing to your parents about your intentions to marry someone you love, avoid surprises. Surprises in these matters don’t end well and only ends up reinforcing the hardline stance that your parents are inclined to take.
From the perspective of your parents, you have broken their trust and ruined their dreams of getting you married to a person that they believe is suitable. But the question of building trust is not just between you and your parents. A strategy that might work in your favor is to introduce your love interest casually as a friend (if your family is not too conservative in these matters). This will give you and your love interest to build rapport and gain trust. So why is trust important when it comes to convincing parents about your love marriage?
Dr. Robert Adler is currently a member of the Obama administration in the US. He is an expert in negotiations and has written award-winning books on this topic. He is a believer in the concept of selective information-sharing. This is about sharing pieces of information that will help you and cannot be used against you. Introducing your soulmate as a friend, at first, is a similar strategy! Of course, you need to make sure your partner put her or his best foot forward and create a great first impression when your parents are against love marriage.
In an experiment, Stanford and Kellogg students negotiated over email. When they only exchanged their names and email addresses, they reached deals less than 40% of the time. When they shared information that was irrelevant to the negotiation, schmoozing about their hobbies or hometowns, 59% reached an agreement. When you open up about something personal, you send a signal that you’re trustworthy, and your counterparts will be motivated to reciprocate.
Tip 4: Highlight the potential of your soulmate
You may have found the most accomplished partner that you could ever imagine. You may believe that the person you fell in love with so much more accomplished by anyone that your parents might have lined up for arranged marriage. But just highlighting that fact that you have caught a “big fish” may not work well. In fact, your parents may turn around and tell your lover is way out of your league and that the marriage will never be successful.
The findings from a research paper titled “Preference of Potential“, (published by experts from Harvard and Stanford University) explains this concept through field studies that included athletes, comedians, students, chefs, university administrators. According to this study:
“When people seek to impress others, they often do so by highlighting individual achievements. Despite the intuitive appeal of this strategy, we demonstrate that people often prefer potential rather than achievement when evaluating others. Indeed, compared with references to achievement (e.g., “this person has won an award for his work”), references to potential (e.g., “this person could win an award for his work”) appear to stimulate greater interest and processing, which can translate into more favorable reactions.”
But, please remember that this study was focussed on assessing talent as a student or restaurant chef. Do not apply this concept blindly. Use it as yet another tool in your attempt to influence your parent’s thinking.
Tip 5: Build allies and seek advice
When your parents are against love marriage, one of the easiest strategies for convincing them is to build a strong coalition that can champion your cause and provide advice. At the least, they provide much needed moral support when things get heated between you and your parents.
Pranay Manocha, co-founder of Refugeemaps.org has interesting tips to offer via Quora to a woman that asked a question about convincing her parents for an intercaste love marriage. According to Pranay:
“In order to convince your family, it is best to open a point of negotiation. Find the members of your family who would be least resistant to your marrying out of your caste, this could be your mother, your aunt or your brothers/sisters or cousins. Look for an opportunity and confide in them that you love this man. Be open and honest and request if they would be open to meeting him. Emphasize that you really like him and want to be happy with him.
Do this for members of your family, one by one. You will gain confidence in how to negotiate with your family and win support from family members who will meet your boyfriend and will undoubtedly like him. Family members who genuinely love you will definitely end up liking your boyfriend, as they want to see you happy.”
Tip 6: The best time to break the news about your love
Breaking the news about your love interest to your parents is a nerve-wracking experience for some of us. The response you get from your parent(s) about your love is dependent on several factors such as how open they are to accept such ideas, their prevailing mood, and of course, your horoscope (just kidding).
Lakshmi Balachandra of Babson College, published this HBR article titled “Should you eat while you negotiate?“. Here are a couple of important points she makes.
Across cultures, dining together is a common part of the process of reaching negotiated agreements. In Russia and Japan, important business dealings are conducted almost exclusively while dining and drinking and in the U.S., many negotiations begin with “Let’s do lunch.”
Research has shown that the consumption of glucose enhances complex brain activities, bolstering self-control and regulating prejudice and aggressive behaviors.
The key lesson from this insight is that people have a tendency to be in a better mood when their blood sugar levels are on the higher side. Perhaps, Diwali is the best time to break the news about your love affair!
Tip 7: Win-Win strategy always helps
Parents are against love marriage because they love us and want us to be happy. But culture and traditions also define how they want us to seek happiness. They are convinced that we may not have the maturity needed to take unilateral decisions on marriage and going against conventions is an affront to their traditions. When the dust settles, a majority of parents only want to see their children have a happy married life.
When your parents are against love marriage, your task is to make them see the end objective beyond the haze of culture, traditions, and “honor”.
1. Develop a win-win strategy that will make you and your parent a winner. As an example, suggest a meeting with your girlfriend or boyfriend in a casual setting so they get a first-hand opinion for the person you are in love with. In exchange, keep your dealings with your love interest open and don’t do anything behind their backs. Convince them that they should, at least, give you a fair chance and highlight how forthright you have been in discussing this with them.
2. Follow the policy of a joint agreement that will ensure that neither you or your parents will ever do anything without first mutually agreeing on it when it comes to marriage. This is a great strategy to maintain status quo for some time till the tempers settle down when there is a greater chance of seeing reason from both sides.
If your parents are against love marriage as well, let us know your experiences in convincing them by commenting below.
Intercaste marriage in India is a controversial topic. Parents invariably want their children to marry someone from the same caste and religion. However, changing attitudes towards traditional beliefs, greater exposure to the outside world and urban migration has resulted in changes in attitude towards intercaste marriages. However, the perception of change remains just a perception as facts about intercaste marriages in India say something else.
Let’s look at seven facts about intercaste marriage that you should know about.
1. Only 5% of Indians have intercaste marriage
According to the India Human Development Survey, conducted by the National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER) and the University of Maryland, only 5% of Indians have embraced intercaste marriages. The IHDS Survey is the largest non-government household survey in India and covers 42000 households. There is no major difference between the % of Indians in rural and Urban India when it comes to intercaste marriage. Over 11% of the survey respondents claimed to have intercaste marriages in Gujarat and Bihar while only under 1% of the survey respondents in Madhya Pradesh said they had an intercaste marriage.
“The phenomenon of honor killings is the outcome of that socio-psychic milieu of typical societies where certain patterns of the behavior of human beings, particularly the females, are recognised as marking dishonor to their families and communities and the lost honor is reimbursed by killing them.”
Researchers asked the survey respondents to rank the responses they received for their ads and also specify which responses are good enough for them to follow up on for further conversation. The researchers noted that on the bride’s side, there was a willingness to trade off education level of the prospective groom for the sake of finding someone from the same caste. Similarly, on the prospective groom’s side that placed the ad, there was a willingness to shortlist self-described “decent-looking” women as opposed to “beautiful” women from a different caste.
The researchers noted that on the bride’s side, there was a willingness to trade off education level of the prospective groom for the sake of finding someone from the same caste. Similarly, on the prospective groom’s side that placed the ad, there was a willingness to shortlist self-described “decent-looking” women as opposed to “beautiful” women from a different caste.
5. “Caste no bar” – Really?
The Hindu published an interesting article on the topic of what Indians seem to declare in public and what they actually practice. A 2013 research report published by researchers from the University of California Santa Barbara and Berkeley revealed that more than half of the prospective brides contacted by the researchers through
A 2013 research report published by researchers from the University of California Santa Barbara and Berkeley revealed that more than half of the prospective brides contacted by the researchers through matrimonial websites expressed an interest in potential partners belonging to caste groups other than their own.
The willingness to go beyond the caste was found to be higher among less affluent upper caste women and more affluent scheduled caste women. However, this willingness was motivated by the opportunity to climb the social ladder by marrying an upper caste man or improve the economic prospects through intercaste marriage.
The study tracked online matrimony sites for caste preferences and reports that anywhere between 20% to 60% of users choosing to say “caste no bar” in their profiles. However, researchers learned that stating “caste no bar” does not mean that the users discounted caste when shortlisting profiles.
6. Which Indian state has the most intercaste marriages?
According to a study done by researchers from Princeton University in 2011, It is found that inter-caste marriage is highest in the western region (17%). Intercaste marriages are the highest in Goa (26.67%) followed by Punjab (22.36%), Meghalaya (25%), and Kerala (21.35%).
States having moderate to high intercaste marriages are Haryana (17.16%), Manipur (18.33%), Tripura (17.81%), Maharashtra (17.79%) and Karnataka (16.47%).
The states showing very low percentages of intercaste marriages are Jammu and Kashmir (1.67%), Rajasthan (2.36%), Chhattisgarh (3.38%), Madhya Pradesh (3.57%), Bihar (4.60%) and Tamil Nadu (2.59%).
The southern region of India is socio-economically more developed than other regions of India. But the study results show that incidence of intercaste marriages in India is only about 10% of the marriages.
7. Does better education result in more intercaste marriages?
It seems like common sense to assume that as more men and women get a better education, the incidence of intercaste and inter-religion marriages will go up substantially. However, the Princeton study (as referred above) shows that increasing education levels have no impact on the preference for same-caste / same-religion marriage. In fact, more education leads to a drop in preference for intercaste marriage!
The study found that couples who married recently have a higher % of intercaste marriages compared to couples that married 20 years ago. Also, inter-caste marriages happen more when either the man or woman or both have a second marriage.
Want to learn how to convince parents for an intercaste marriage? Click here to read our comprehensive blog post.
Jodi Logik’s stance on intercaste marriages
There is no explicit provision for stating your caste or indicating caste preferences in your Jodi Logik profile. However, you can write about your caste or your preferences around caste in the About section. We believe shared values, interests, lifestyle habits and goals are more important in determining the success of a marriage.