NEW DELHI: Matrimonial ties between India and Nepal can be traced back to mythology when Prince Ram of Ayodhya married Princess Sita of Janakpur. This centuries-old trend of cross-border marriages between the people of the two countries, which has become the basis for the well-known phrase ‘roti-beti’ relationship, has seen a sharp decline in recent years, according to experts who have been closely studying it.
The reasons include improvement in living standards in both countries, access to better education, availability of better prospects within their own countries and citizenship issues after marriage.
“With economic advancement and access to education, people on both sides of the border feel they are better off in their own countries,” former Nepalese bureaucrat and Professor at Tribhuwan University, Vijay Kant Karna said.
As for Indian brides looking for grooms in Nepal, that country’s citizenship rules have been a discouraging factor. First-generation immigrants through marriage are not allowed to have a stake in the property and are not considered for Nepal government positions.
Research conducted in nine border districts of Nepal -- Morang, Sunsari, Saptari, Dhanusha, Sarlani, Parsa, Nawalparashi, Kapilvastu and Kailali – highlights the decline in cross-border marriages. Earlier, about seven in 10 marriages in these districts could be considered cross-border. This number has fallen drastically.
“Our research points out border blockades, the dowry system, a heightened anti-Indian sentiment in Nepal, debates around the naturalized citizenship provisions, occasional difficulties in crossing the border, availability of educated and employed bride/groom in Nepal are prominent factors in decreasing enthusiasm for cross-border marriages among the people of Nepal,” Nepal’s research body, Centre for Social Inclusion and Federalism (CESIF) said. The decline can be seen especially among the Dalits, the Muslims, OBCs among whom cross-border marriages were the most common.