Spectre of Caste? At Dalit AIADMK Legislator’s Wedding, Brahmin Bride’s Father Attempts Suicide

Social Commentary

Spectre of Caste? At Dalit AIADMK Legislator’s Wedding, Brahmin Bride’s Father Attempts Suicide

Illustration: Robin Chakraborty

A wedding is supposed to be a happy ceremony celebrating the union of a couple. But in Tamil Nadu’s Kallakurichi, the wedding of 35-year-old All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) legislator A Prabhu to 19-year-old student S Soundarya took a dark turn when the bride’s father turned up at the wedding venue and threatened to set himself on fire.

The father, S Swaminathan, said he was opposed to the marriage because Prabhu had “lured” his daughter into marriage, and had been grooming her since she was a minor. Prabhu has denied this allegation, saying that Soundarya and he have been in a relationship only for the past four months, and chose to get married despite Soundarya’s family disapproving of the match.

Swaminathan, who is 48 years old, was prevented from immolating himself by the guests and AIADMK workers present at the wedding and handed over to local police. He was then booked under the Indian Penal Code Section 309, relating to attempt to suicide. In response to Swaminathan’s allegations, Prabhu released a video where he is sitting next to Soundarya as he explains their joint decision to get married despite her family’s opposition.

The girl’s father says he is opposed to the union because of the age gap of 17 years between Prabhu and Soundarya. Swaminathan, who is a temple priest, has denied that caste identity played any role in his opposition to Prabhu, a Dalit, marrying his daughter. In a Times of India report, Swaminathan said, “Though we are Brahmins, for 14 years, Prabhu grew up in my house and I considered him my son. But he broke that trust.” He has now approached the court for a hearing in the matter.

Swaminathan is not the only one who is disturbed by the age gap between Prabhu and his new bride. On social media, many users have pointed out that the 17-year difference between the two is out of the ordinary. Though Prabhu has denied the claims that he was pursuing a relationship with Soundarya when she was a minor, not everybody is convinced.

From bride abduction, to possible casteism, grooming of a minor, and finally attempted suicide Prabhu and Soundarya’s wedding day is the opposite of a fairytale.