In the times of big, fat, glamourous Indian weddings, it is a delight to notice that there are people who believe in going beyond the usual. Be it the Bhopal couple who replaced wedding cards with potted plants or the BSF jawan who refused Rs 11 lakh dowry at his wedding, people from different walks of life have time and again restored our faith in goodness.
Such was the wedding of Kannada actor Chetan Ahimsa and his wife Megha, who is an activist - a ceremony that was individualistic, free-spirited, progressive and innovative.
What Was Special About The Wedding?
"Megha and I did not wish to define ourselves under any religion, so we registered our marriage under the Special Marriages Act. We got married as Indians, rather than having an extravagant Hindu wedding," Chetan tells The Logical Indian.
"We wanted to spread the message of inclusivity through our marriage. Our marriage did not have to be just about us, our happiness and our lives - we, as human beings, need to broaden our perspectives. We had people from all across Karnataka - people from different religions, different communities - join us at our wedding. Our ideologies of inclusivity, multiplicity and equality resonated with so many people," he adds.
Chetan and Megha did not follow any religious rituals that are generally followed in weddings. In what can be considered a very unique act, the duo took three vows - a personal vow, a social vow and an environmental vow.
They took their 'vows of values' led by transgender rights activist and Karnataka Rajyotsava Award recipient Akkai Padmashali.
When asked about the personal vow, Chetan says, "In a bid to be good to society and do social work, we often forget how important our personal relationships are. Social and personal life go hand-in-hand. We vowed to take care of each other and each other's parents to the best of our abilities."
In their social vow, Chetan and Megha promised to remove all forms of discrimination and build a society that is just and equitable.
In their environmental vow, they promised to be compassionate to all living beings - plants, animals, birds and nature as a whole.
The wedding was no less than a festival for Chetan, who sounds elated as he narrates how people from all walks of life, including those from the LGBTQIA+ community, specially-abled people, activists and more, eagerly came together to be a part of a wedding which aimed at promoting not wealth and affluence, but equality, inclusivity and justice.
The most interesting part of their marriage, however, was their return gifts for the guests - a copy of the Indian Constitution.
"By not performing religious rituals, we wanted to challenge any idea of differentiation, patriarchy and inequality, or anything that may promote the anti-constitutional approach. The Constitution and our ideas are intertwined, and we wanted to pass on our ideologies to our guests by giving them a copy of the Constitution," Chetan says.
"We wanted our marriage to be more than an occasion meant just for us and our families. We wanted it to be an occasion to tell people that we must dedicate our lives to social work, to create a society free of injustice and inequality, a society where people do not fight and hurt each other over differences," he adds.
Chetan and Megha got married at the Vinoba Bhave Ashram, with which they share a deep bond. The duo, since 2019, have worked with the children in the Ashram.
"The Ashram has done a wonderful job taking care of these kids," Chetan says. "So we wanted to do something for the people of the Ashram and the children too."
"I always say that to do something globally, we must take care of what is around us locally. You have to take care of what's next to you to make a bigger difference in future," Chetan says. "So for our marriage, we renovated the Ashram, which was not in good condition. It was dilapidated and ill-maintained. We rebuilt the walls and painted them, along with the children, with images of people from marginalised communities, the working class, farmers, tribals, women, birds and animals. We gave the kids new beds and mattresses. We hope that when they wake up every morning, they feel proud of who they are and where they belong."
"The Ashram served the best marriage venue we could ask for. No five-star hotel or lavish resort could have given us the satisfaction that this gave us," Chetan adds.
Chetan and Megha plan to have a long-term relationship with the Ashram and the kids.
"Our marriage is the coming together of two people who wish to take care of society together. After all, what does all the grandeur and glamour mean if we do not do our bit to make a difference?" Chetan says, with a smile that reflects in his voice.
Inside Megha and Chetan's socially diverse wedding, they created a difference that is bound to gradually leave its mark on every corner of our otherwise indifferent society.