Rites and Wrongs

How Satyashodhak weddings resist Brahmanical rituals

30 June 2021
Guests offer tribute to Bahujan icons at Ainkya Pawar’s Satyashodhak wedding in Wada town. At his wedding, people who made a monetary gift to the couple could pick up a copy of either Gulamgiri or Shetkaryacha Asud, Jotirao Phule’s two best-known books.
Courtesy Ajinkya Pawar
Guests offer tribute to Bahujan icons at Ainkya Pawar’s Satyashodhak wedding in Wada town. At his wedding, people who made a monetary gift to the couple could pick up a copy of either Gulamgiri or Shetkaryacha Asud, Jotirao Phule’s two best-known books.
Courtesy Ajinkya Pawar

On 25 April, 32-year-old Bhanuj Kappal was scheduled to get married in Goa in a Satyashodhak ceremony—a type of wedding that eschews the services of a Brahmin priest, Brahmanical rituals and unintelligible Sanskrit verses. The bride and bridegroom also write their vows—they decide what goes into those vows—which they recite on the day of the wedding in front of the guests. Kappal’s wedding, which had to be postponed due to the second wave of COVID-19, is among the growing number of Satyashodhak weddings in Maharashtra and beyond.

Jotirao Phule co-founded the Satyashodhak Samaj, or Truth Seekers’ Society, on 24 September 1873. The organisation’s primary aim was to revolt against the hegemony of Brahmins and their ideology that preached the enslavement of the lower castes. It was also supposed to be a non-Brahmin alternative to the Brahmin-dominated social-reform organisations in western India at the time, such as the Prarthana Samaj and the Poona Sarva- janik Sabha.

Tejas Harad is currently writing a book on the lives of Savitribai Phule and Jotirao Phule.

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