This Rajasthan Village Did Ambedkar Proud When Dalit Bridegroom Rode A Mare, Created History Ahead Of R-Day

| Updated: January 26, 2022 9:38 am

This was no ordinary wedding procession, this was a victory march -- an uncanny sense of empowerment, a defiance, a rebuff to the upper caste hegemony that prevents Dalits here to ride a horse, especially a mare, or even take out flamboyant celebratory processions.

When politicians squabbled over a tableau depicting Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose’s role in the independence struggle for the R-Day, Dalits in a nondescript village in feudal Rajasthan were celebrating a freedom of sorts.

Young bride Draupadi watched in awe, as did her family, as bridegroom Shriram, 27, triumphantly rode a horse holding a sword as he spearheaded their wedding procession amidst the chants of ‘Jai Bhim’ to Chadi village in Bundi district on Monday.

This was no ordinary wedding procession, this was a victory march — an uncanny sense of empowerment, a defiance, a rebuff to the upper caste hegemony that prevents Dalits here to ride a horse, especially a mare, or even take out flamboyant celebratory processions.

Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar couldn’t have been more proud to witness this quiet revolution 48 hours ahead of the Republic Day celebrations. The overwhelming adrenaline rush that Shriram Meghwal, his father-in-law Babulal Meghwal and bride Draupadi must have experienced could be felt from their struggle for words to relay their new-found strength when Vibes of India called them.

“This is a big moment for us. Even after so many years of Independence, the rights of Dalits have remained only on paper. There are at least 40 villages in our Bundi district alone where Dalits can’t celebrate anything, let alone riding a mare for the wedding. I am proud I took my marriage procession on a mare,” beams Shriram, speaking to Vibes of India. Read up to BA.B.Ed, he works as a gram sevak in the Rajasthan Government and says he is aware of the rights of Dalits but could never exercise them.

Jai Yadav Superintendent of Police

This was made possible with the initiative and full support of the Bundi District of Superintendent of Police Jai Yadav. In a rare display of sensitivity, Yadav surveyed and identified as many as 30 villages where no bridegroom had ever dared to ride a horse for fear of strong retribution from the higher castes. “Dalits here are either not aware of their rights or are scared to exercise them. And if any family tries to assert, elders in the community itself protest it,” Yadav told Vibes of India.

“We constituted Samaanta Committees (equality committees) in these 30 villages. The committee comprises the village sarpanch, a local police officer, a social welfare officer, a prominent Dalit citizen and a revenue inspector to enforce equal rights for all,” he informed, adding that the beginning was made with this wedding procession.

He said attacks on Dalit weddings were quite frequent in Rajasthan. The State has seen as many as 76 attacks on wedding processions during the last 10 years, the last being three months ago when Yadav decided to fight this by instilling confidence among the Dalits.

Shriram felt like a king as a huge posse of police force walked with his wedding procession as the entire village gathered to witness this historic moment. The wedding took place with a portrait of Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar in the backdrop with not only DSP Yadav but also District Collector Renu Jaipal in attendance. Renu Jaipal told Vibes of India, “Shriram had expressed his desire to ride a horse in his wedding procession. We not only ensured all security, but I myself welcomed the procession.”

While Draupadi smiled, “This is a dream come true for me that my bridegroom came riding a horse to take me,” her father couldn’t stop feeling proud as he said, “Now Dalits will not hesitate to ride a mare to their wedding. My son-in-law has ensured this.”

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