Buddhist marriages on rise

Deccan Chronicle, June 11, 2011

New Delhi, India -- A small group of Ambedkar followers in Warangal is trying to popularise the concept of Buddhist marriages among Dalits as such marriages are seen as rational and a financially viable option for poor families, who cannot afford the costly and elaborate rituals in Hindu marriages.

The latest to opt for a Buddhist marriage in Warangal is Chinta Kankaraju, 26, a government teacher and resident of Timmapuram village in Hanamkonda, who married M. Sumalatha, 22, at Kadipkonda village in Hanamkonda on Friday morning.

P. Abbaiah, state president of Buddhist Society of India (BSI) and B. Narsimhulu, secretary of BSI, attended the marriage along with other intellectuals and Dalit leaders. According to B. Kattaiah, a Dalit leader and president of Warangal chapter of Buddhist Society of India, Kankaraju and Sumalatha are the 18th couple in Warangal to have opted for a Buddhist marriage, which is also known as ‘Adarsha viviham’.

“The first Buddhist marriage in Warangal took place in 1985,” said Mr B. Kattaiah, who got his daughter, Ms B. Padmavathi, married this way making an example for others to emulate. Since the first Buddhist marriage in 1985, sources said, there has been at least one such marriage in Warangal every year. What is interesting about Buddhist marriage is that there is neither a band baja nor a priest to perform the rituals.

Rather, it involves lighting a candle before the figure of the Buddha, who is offered a floral tribute by the couple. This is followed by chanting of Buddha’s ‘Panchashila Sutra’ in Pali language, which is a common practice followed by Ambedkar followers on the eve of any auspicious occasion.

However, Buddhist followers in Warangal say that very few people are opting for such marriages. Prof. G. Bhadru Naik, a Dalit leader and a believer in Buddhist principles, blamed costly marriages as one of the reasons for increase in debts among rural households. "Performing marriage of daughters is still a costly event for poor people, which they cannot afford but have to as all others are doing the same,” said prof Naik, while stressing on the need for more ‘Adarsha Vivaham’.