The inter-caste marriage means marriage outside one's own caste. In other words, it brings about the union of a man and woman belonging to two different castes. For a very long time caste-marriage was the only acceptable form of marriage in India. No one made any protest against it. But the situation has been changed now. The heavy dowry demanded by grooms, modern education, and the exorbitant bride price have encouraged the practice of inter-caste marriage these days. In order to remove these evils from society people have accepted inter-caste marriage.
Types of Inter-caste Marriage - Sociologists classified the inter-caste marriage into two categories. One is Hypergamy or Anuloma and the other is Hypogamy or Pratiloma.
1. Hypergamy or Anuloma -
It is a form of marriage which allows a man of higher caste or Varna to marry a woman of lower caste or Varna. The old Indian epics and other literatures bear evidence of the practice of Hypergamy. Until recent times, the practice of Hypergamy prevailed among that particular sect of Bengali Brahmins, who were regarded as noble (Kulin) Brahmins. Everybody had the desire to marry his daughter into the family of the Kulin Brahmin.
The Kulin Brahmins were considered to be noble persons of very high status and descendants of very learned people. Hypergamy was not confined to Bengal. There were some sections of people in Kerala like the Nambudri Brahmins who, though superior to others, married the Nayar women, who are of lower castes.
2. Hypogamy or Pratiloma
Hypogamy or pratiloma is another from of inter-caste marriage. It allows men of lower caste or Varna to marry women of higher caste or Varna. The ancient law givers, especially Manu discouraged the practice of Hypogamy, but a number of scholars have recognised it as an acceptable form of marriage. It is said that Kakustha Varma, a Brahmin king gave his daughter in marriage to a non-Brahmin king of the Gupta dynasty.
In another instance Jajati, a Kshatriya king married Devayani a Brahmin girl. Similarly a number of instances of pratiloma are found in our modern society. This inter-caste marriage is becoming very popular in the modern Indian society. The government also legalised the inter-caste marriage under Hindu-Marriage Act, 1955.
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.
There is an increasing trend among users of online matrimony sites in India to declare one's willingness to marry outside their caste.