A platform from Kerala is kindling secular and progressive perspectives about matrimony
At a time when matrimonial platforms suffixing and prefixing caste or religious labels are getting attention, a humble non-profit initiative from Kerala is kindling an alternative thought.
Named Secular Marriage Matrimony, the initiative started in 2014, is a first-of-its kind platform for individuals seeking life partners with secular thoughts. Though the platform does not have wider popularity, in progressive circles it is gaining momentum as an unique platform on Facebook which is worth supporting.
According to Athira Paily and Ajith Kannan, who recently got married through Secular Marriage Matrimony, ‘platforms like this are very much relevant’.
“I was very particular about finding a partner with a secular outlook. While looking for proposals, I realized that not just people but also most matrimonial platforms are not secular. Most of them are entertaining caste and religious fundamentalisms. I was looking for alternatives and that’s how I found Secular Marriage Matrimony in 2018. I uploaded my profile on it and took my own time to find a person of the same wavelength. Though the screening of the profiles was time taking, I was determined and my parents were supportive enough. I think that there should be a generation that could live freely without caste and religious affiliations. And I think platforms like this are paving way to it,” said Athira.
She also conveyed her disinterest about the mainstream tendency towards ceremonious marriages. “Not just religious customs and rituals. Even the pompous celebrations associated with marriages should not be normalized and glorified. It is true that some people wish to make the moment memorable. However, at a time when many go debt-ridden over celebrations, we wanted to give a message that marriage can be conducted without any events. Our marriage was held at a Register Office and we did that as a legal formality. There was neither a seemingly secular garlanding ceremony, nor we were in a special wedding attire,” Athira added.
Meanwhile, Ajith who finds Secular Marriage Matrimony as a promising attempt thinks that the mainstream caste and religion specific matrimonial platforms are just manifestations of existing social realities. “Earlier there were just religion specific matrimonial platforms. But now things are getting worse. Even caste specific matrimonial websites have emerged. Day by day religious and caste streaks are getting rooted in our social life and these platforms are reflecting that reality. Sad truth is that many are happy about this proliferation. This is where the politics of Secular Marriage Matrimony stands out,” he said.
The idea of Secular Marriage Matrimony came out of Manu Manushyajaathi from Thrissur. He began the platform as an extension of his own Facebook page `Madhamillatha Jeevithangal'. “The conversations and interactions within the page made me realize that there was no space for people to find prospective life partners with a secular mind-set. This potential void was something widely discussed in that page, which in turn led to the start of Secular Marriage Matrimony,” Manu said.
Though the platform was named with the words ‘marriage’ and ‘matrimony’, Manu now detests from the apparent dogma associated with it. “When I started this page, much consideration was not given for the name. My only priority was to name it with words that people can easily understand. However, now I understand that words like ‘marriage’ and ‘matrimony may be perceived as words supporting institutionalisation of love-relationships. So I wish to stress the point that the platform does not have such allegiance to institutionalisation. Meanwhile, I also wish to expand this as a community of people devoid of patriarchal mind-set and other regressive social norms. Notably, now the platform has been approached by transgenders among others. That’s something inspirational for the platform, to expand its horizons”, he said.
Manu who is also involved in many other social activities is basically a mathematics teacher. He wishes to register Secular Marriage as an official entity and plans a website too. “Now it is a small community which almost runs like a people led online community. It is a democratic space. At the same time, many people are joining this platform thinking that it is a normal matrimonial platform. That is problematic. Some people also pretend to be secular even when they are not. Therefore, screening is difficult. From my side I am carefully vetting the profiles before uploading it on the platform. Still there are chances of manipulation. Unlike most professional platforms, the platform is neither private nor has content moderation. So the members are cautioned about the risks and are encouraged to scrutinize the profiles in their own capacities. That does not mean the platform is open to malpractices. It is self-regulated rather than controlled. I hope chances of manipulation can be further avoided if we are professionally managing the platform. Presently, the platform is not very professional due to financial and resource constraints. However, I have plans to revamp it, he added.