RANCHI: Ramesh Gope and Manonit Kerketta have lived together for 14 long years as a couple. But, impoverished as they are, going through actual marriage ritual, which would establish their legal bonafides in their tribal community has not been possible for them, as also for many others. Now, thanks to organisations such as Coal India Limited (CIL) Punjab National Bank and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL) — all brought together by Nimitta, an NGO — they will finally be wed and accepted by the society.
Ramesh and Manonit are just among 132 such tribal couples who will tie the knot on Monday. The wedding for these couples, mainly in Jharkhand districts of Ranchi, Khunti and Gumla, will be solemnised at the IAS Club in Ranchi.
Traditionally, in tribal society, both men and women have equal rights including the right to choose a life partner. Under it, a girl could get into a live-in relationship (called ‘dhuku’ marriage) with her male partner without even getting married to each other. Generally, these women (called ‘dhukni’ in Jharkhand) do not have legal rights over property and other assets due to lack of social recognition of their relationship and need to feed the village if they want to get it socially sanctioned.
“...since my partner is a tribal and I a Hindu, we need to throw a feast for both communities to get our marriage recognized. That would cost Rs 1.5 lakh, which we can never earn. Hence we have no legal rights”, said Ramesh Gope. The couple has a daughter and two sons.
No money to wed, no rights from society
Nimitta secretary Nikita Sinha said she saw many such couples. Women in such relationships did not have the rights of a wife. She has got consent of village leaders to bring such couples to Ranchi to wed.