The caste system in India forbids marriage outside the caste. However, inter-caste marriages have gradually gained acceptance due to increasing education, employment, middle-class economic background, and urbanisation. According to a survey in 2014, about 5% of marriages are inter-caste in India.
In India, inter-caste marriages were publicly encouraged and supported by politicians such as C. N. Annadurai, former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, and social activists such as Periyar E. V. Ramasamy, Raghupathi Venkataratnam Naidu and Manthena Venkata Raju. In the North Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, the Government offers a cash award for inter-caste couples. The Supreme Court of India has also declared that inter-caste marriages are in the national interest and a unifying factor for the nation and there is no bar in inter-caste or inter-religion marriages in India.
The first recorded inter-caste marriage in modern India took place on 4 February 1889. On this date, Yashwant and Radha (alias Laxmi) were betrothed. Yaswant was the adopted son of Jotirao and Savitribai Phule. Radha was the daughter of Gyanoba Krishnaji Sasane. This marriage was the first 'Satyashodhaki' (truth seeker society) marriage. Savitribai bore all the expenses on this historic occasion. This method of marriage, similar to a registered marriage, is prevalent in many parts of India. These marriages were opposed by priests and 'bhatjis' (Brahmans), and they went to court on this matter. Savitribai and Jotirao had to face severe difficulties but that did not deter them. The Satyashodhak marriage required the bridegroom to take an oath of giving education and equal rights to women. The 'mangalashtake' (the mantras chanted at the wedding) were to be sung by the bride and the bridegroom themselves, and these were in the form of pledges made by the bride and the groom to each other. To ensure that they got better acquainted with each other and with each other's likes and dislikes, Savitribai had made Radha stay in the Phule household before the marriage. She made provisions for Radha's education.
Inter-caste marriages are considered to be among the primary reasons for honor killing in India. There is also an increasing trend among users of online matrimony sites in India to declare one's willingness to marry outside their caste.
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