Govindi's marriage to a man outside her caste has been approved by the Vaidu community, a first such knot to be tied with no objection from the community.
Govindi Gudilu was in her mother's womb when her marriage was fixed to her maternal uncle's son, who was two years old at the time. But now, 29 years after her birth, Govindi's marriage to a man outside her caste has been approved by the Vaidu community, a first such knot to be tied with no objection from the community.
Around 29 years ago, in front of the Vaidu panchayat members, Gudilu's family had agreed that if her mother deliver's a baby girl, she will be married off to her maternal uncle's son. As a result, in the year 2013, the family was boycotted from the community when Govindi disagreed to the marriage.
"Since 2011, the community members were torturing my family over the previously agreed marriage proposal. After two years, in 2013 the community's panchayat committee heard the matter and socially boycotted our family completely. We were asked to pay three lakh rupees to pay as a fine to reject the marriage proposal. We initially paid Rs 25,000 so that the community doesn't boycott us but later on we refused to pay the remaining amount," said Durga Gudilu, Govindi's sister, who fought against the community and stood by her sister's decision.
Govindi will be marrying Jayesh Wakade, who belongs to the Buddhist community. "In our community, there is a freedom to marry the person we want to. According to us, we should marry the person we love rather than looking at which community, caste they belong too," said Jayesh.
The first caste-based panchayat which was dissolved in Maharashtra was of Vaidu community in the early 2016. But it wasn't only the panchayat's dissolution but also Durga's initiative to raise voice against forced marriages that led to growing awareness and acceptance in the Vaidu community.
Durga, a social activist, said, "This will be the first time that all the past panchayat representatives will be present for the first inter-caste wedding after the dissolution of panchayat system. Earlier, there have been inter-caste marriages, but the families were socially boycotted by the community for doing inter-caste marriage."
The Maharashtra Prohibition of People from Social Boycott (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2016 was formed due to which the mindset of the community members started changing slowly.