SANGHAR: Braving all hurdles, an inter-caste runaway Hindu couple got married in a court in Sanghar district on Wednesday. The marriage was solemnised in Ram Mandir, Mirpurkhas. It is worth mentioning that this is the first reported inter-caste Hindu marriage in Sindh province after the passage of ‘Sindh Hindu Marriage Act 2016’. Inter-caste marriage occurs when two people from different castes seek union as a married couple. Inter-caste marriage is permitted in Hindu religion but it is also a taboo in Hindu communities and the act is often frowned upon socially. In communities where a strict caste hierarchy system is followed, a person from higher caste considers a person from lower caste inferior. 19-years old bride, Paiyal is a resident of Kandiari Town in Sindh’s Sanghar district. She belongs to Sonara caste, an upper caste in the Hindu religion. On the other hand, Dhaloo, the 22-years old groom belongs to same district from Dil Shakh area which is 10 kilometers (km) away from Paiyal’s hometown. Dhaloo belongs to Bheel caste which is considered a scheduled caste in Hindu religion. As per statement recorded before the Civil Judge and Judicial Magistrate Muhammad Farooque Abbasi, Paiyal stated that she wanted to contract marriage (Vivah) with Dhaloo Mal out of her own volition and free will. Paiyal said that she was in love with Dhaloo, who asked her parents for her hand in marriage but they flatly refused. Paiyad said that she packed three sets of clothes and left her parent’s house on September 3 at 11 pm. She said that she met Dhaloo Mal and then the couple proceeded to contract court marriage but were apprehended by police. The police brought them at police station in Perumal where her statement was recorded and finally she was produced before the court. According to Paiyal, her parents and relatives wanted to marry her off to an elderly man against her will out of greed. Paiyal further shared that her relatives opposed her marriage with Dhaloo. Paiyal’s parents refused to comment when approached by Daily Times. Meanwhile, Paiyal has submitted an application to a session judge in Sanghar, to seek protection from her family and relatives. Dhaloo has also shown concerns for the security of his family. “We had to run because Paiyal’s family was against it. They would have never accepted it. We got married hoping for a better life together. I wish everyone would accept it and let us be happy,” said Dhaloo. Talking to Daily Times, Pandit Ramesh Kumar, who solemnised scores of marriages between Hindu couples said that marrying an upper caste girl to a scheduled caste boy was not prohibited by the Hindu religion but it was not encouraged either, especially in strictly regimented communities which believed in caste differences. “As a pundit I have been solemnising hundreds of marriages but after Sindh Hindu Marriage Act 2016, this is the first case I have came to know in which two people belonging to different castes of Hindu religion got married,” said Kumar. “This taboo among Hindu communities has started breaking all over the world, especially in India,” Pundit pointed out. Pakistan Hindu Sabha (PHS) Chairman Govind Ram said this particular case shows that fundamental right of marriage can be exercised according to law. “Literate people are breaking the taboos by taking decisions which are legal and according to their own will,” Govind added. Sindh Hindu Marriage Act 2016 mainly helps Hindu women get documentary proof of their marriage. The law is widely acceptable for Hindus living in Pakistan because it pertains to marriage, registration of marriage, separation and remarriage. The act also set 18 years as the minimum age of marriage for both boys and girls. Hindus are the biggest religious minority of Pakistan and the majority a them reside in Sindh. According to estimates around 6.8 million (mn) or 90 pc of Hindus in Sindh belong to the lower caste. Some of these lower caste Hindus live in northern districts of upper Sindh including Sukkur, Ghotki and Jacobabad, but a majority of them reside in different districts of lower Sindh, particularly Mirpurkhas, Tharparkar, Sanghar and Umerkot. Published in Daily Times, September 6th 2018.