This Malayalam wedding ad shows society’s continued obsession with casteism

Despite our claims of being rational and reasonable thinkers, it seems there's still a lot of work to do.

Written by Soumya Mathew | New Delhi | Published: December 21, 2016 9:02 pm
matrimonial ads, controversial matrimonial ads, matrimonial ads in paper, sexist matrimonial ads, casteist matrimonial ads, indian express, indian express news, indian express trending, trending in india While we claim to be a progressive bunch of thinking individuals, we have often proved to be otherwise.

If we look back at how the country has developed and evolved over the years, we’ll probably surprise ourselves. There have been fundamental changes that have taken place in the country, especially with respect to socially construed elements like gender, caste, etc.

For instance, today we have come across – and read about – many instances of people keeping aside their ‘caste’ and ‘religious’ differences and not only living harmoniously, but also helping members of other communities out. Which is why, when a local Malayalam newspaper recently carried a paid announcement about a wedding, it came as a surprise to many.

Not that it is uncommon to have people pay to print wedding announcements, it’s usually the basic information of name, date and venue that is advertised, but what has raised eyebrows in this particular advertisement is that the family has taken it a bit too far with its detailed explanation about the Nair lineage of the newlyweds’ families. In case you didn’t know, Nairs are one of the higher castes among Malayalis, ranking just below the Brahmin and Kshatriya castes.

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The announcement reflects the hypocrisy of our society in a rather, distinct way. As much as people claim to be progressive and broad-minded, as opposed to the previous generations, they still might not think twice before posting such an exhaustive wedding ad with details tracing the Nair bloodlines of the bride and groom. What is even unsettling is that the families are both highly educated, the mention of which also comes only after the parties’ caste was duly glorified.

This is the paid ad that was published recently.


Written in Malayalam, the announcement starts with introducing the bride thus — ‘Mythili Menon, of the bloodline of Diwan Peshkar Shri Kappazhom Raman Pillai of Thiruvithankur (Travancore) and Shrimati Gauri Amma from the Kovil Pillai family of Nair legacy.’

This is followed by an introduction to her mother, as IAAS Mahalakshmi Menon, the 2009-2014 Principal General Accountant and father as Krishna Menon working in Geneva with the UN.

The groom was introduced as Nakul Prasad, who belonged to a respected Nair caste family, whose father PN Prasad is the chief general manager at a bank in Mumbai.

The announcement claims that the wedding was conducted in complete accordance with the traditional Nair wedding customs. Karayogams or the localised Nair-governing organisations were present from the sides of both the parties to solemnise the wedding. Thiruvananthapuram Chettikulangara Sridevi Nair Karayogam was present from the bride’s side, and Chennithala Shanmuga Vilasa NSS (Nair Service Society) was present from the groom’s side.

There was also a brief mention about the reception and the girl’s make-up artiste, Renju Renjimar – whose name in fact stands out because of the absence of a Nair to it.

Even all the other information provided had a casteist tinge to it, and whether you register the names and details of the wedding or not, there is no chance you’d not finish reading the ad without knowing that it was a high-caste Nair wedding in all respects! In today’s day and age, this ad is testament to the kind of duality in society and the deep-rooted social evils that persist, coming to the surface usually during such traditional customs as a marriage ceremony.

What is alarming about such casteist ideologies, especially when it comes to weddings, is how some people tend to associate any negative incident with not following caste rules. Take the case of N Panchapakesan, founder, Chennai Sai Sankara Matrimonials, who wrote a disturbing post on the murder of S Swathi, a Chennai-based techie, saying how had she chosen to associate with a ‘pure Brahmin boy’ as opposed to a supposedly lower-caste person through a social media site, things could have worked out differently.

ALSO READ | When sexist casteism are the ‘lessons’ to be ‘learnt’ from the brutal murder of S Swathi

In the case of this wedding announcement, as much as we’re happy that such a ‘perfect alliance’ has been formed and the newlyweds would go on to live a wonderfully happy life together, we hope families – and the society at large – realises and acknowledges that the marriage would work more because of the two individuals involved than the caste they come from or the Nair rituals through which they were wed.

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  1. T
    Truth be Told
    May 9, 2017 at 3:11 pm
    Author equates marrying within your caste/religion to not living harmoniously with others? Ridiculous argument. The quality of journalism sinks everyday. Either this a deliberate effort to malign the couple or the author's religious pride was wounded by people of another religion showing appreciation for their own customs. India is the land of cultural diversity, don't force your personal views on others. The ad seems to show no bias against any other section of society. Plus, it is clearly meant for a regional newspaper. To bring the names of the people involved on a national platform and dissing them for no reason is pathetic. For the benefit of non-Malayalam speakers, I must say that the author has avoided mentioning other apparently non-Nair dignitaries who had attended the ceremony. Maybe this the overall IE agenda, with the CEO also being a Keralite Christian, maybe this is their business strategy-in the name of secularism belitt other customs while propel their own.
    1. A
      Dec 21, 2016 at 5:40 pm
      India is a cast based society which holds true for all religions. While this wedding announcement might seem wordy, doesn't highlight any double standards. The writer I'm sure is not the first one to monumentalize a trivial issue. Points to the quality of her work and ultimately to the greater question of what this article achieves by reporting such a thing... Beats me!!
      1. O
        Dec 21, 2016 at 9:55 pm
        Little people with little brains made happy by little hypocrisy! lt;br/gt;These caste and religious bigots make india a shame living in the 21st century. lt;br/gt;Who you are and what you contribute to mankind makes you good or bad. Birth is sheer incident happens to human and animal. Some cunning people make it a tool to subjugate others in the name of religion. Shame.
        1. G
          G. G.
          Dec 22, 2016 at 4:35 pm
          1. H
            Dec 23, 2016 at 3:02 pm
            The article reflects Soumya Mathews inferiority complex. Majority of kerala christians are converted from "low-caste";br/gt;lt;br/gt;Soumya is carrying that baggage and hence this;br/gt;lt;br/gt;Marriage is the last bastion of caste. It is the same for all caste and not just Nairs.
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