Gowsalya, who turned into an anti-caste crusader after her family got her Dalit husband killed, remarried on Sunday in a self-respect wedding ritual.
Gowsalya’s family got her husband Shankar killed in a busy market area in Udumalaipet in Tirupur district of Tamil Nadu in 2016. The family had hired men for the killing as they were against their marriage. Shankar belonged to the Dalit community while Gowsalya belonged to the influential Thevar caste.
Gowsalya became an activist after her husband’s murder and has been fighting against caste killings ever since
Gowsalya’s life had seen traumatising turns ever since she got involved with Shankar. She was only 19 and her husband 22, when they were attacked. While her husband succumbed to injuries, she survived. She not only battled depression, but also a failed suicide attempt. Soon after, Gowsalya decided to take up activism against caste-hate killings. In December 2017, the Tirupur district court sentenced six people, including her father, to death. Currently, 11 people, including her parents, are lodged at the Coimbatore Central Prison.
A new beginning with the Parai Prayer
On Sunday, Gowsalya gave another chance to love and tied the knot with Parai artist Sakthi at the Thanthai Periyar Dravidar Kazhagam head office in Coimbatore. Sakthi (27) is a Vellalore resident and a visual communication graduate. He runs ‘Nimirvu’, a band that plays Parai. The self-respect marriage took place in the presence of TPDK Secretary Ku. Ramakrishnan, Dravidar Viduthalai Kazhagam leader Kolathur Mani and a few other leaders.
Gowsalya has also learnt how to play the parai drum. She came across Sakthi because of various programmes she attended to create awareness on caste-based violence. The activist has been organising these programmes under the Shankar Samooga Needhi Arakkatalai, which she has established.
Self-respect marriage ritual is one which is solemnised without any priests or any rituals.
Why is this marriage important?
This marriage holds a lot of significance for more reasons than one. The self-respect marriage goes against the notions of the established system of wedding rituals. Gowsalya, who became a widow at 19, decided to move on, give love and marriage another chance, and take her own decision. This speaks volumes about how widow remarriage is and should be considered normal.
Gowsalya also told the media that she would continue fighting for a separate law against ‘honour’ killings. At their marriage ceremony, Gowsalya and Sakthi pledged to continue their fight against caste. As per The New Indian Express, the couple said, “Inter caste couples and couples who have had love marriages can always come into our house to take refuge. Periyarist, Ambedkerist and Marxist people, working for the welfare of the society, can always come to our house.”
In several parts of the country, inter-caste marriages are still considered taboo. Caste-baste atrocities have been taking place across the country. Respect for human rights and general awareness at ground level is a must to change the mindset towards honour killings, which is still considered as culturally acceptable. There is a need for further efforts to change patriarchal mindsets and enable the society to become tolerant and accept people’s matrimonial choices.