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Foreign brides test the social limits in conservative Haryana

[img],width-500,resizemode-4/love.jpg [/img] CHANDIGARH: Kachhwa village in Haryana's Karnal district is as far as you can get from the American city of Baltimore, both in terms of geography and traditional social mores. While Haryana has the lowest sex ratio in the country at 879 women per 1,000 men, Baltimore today has a black woman mayor. But none of this stopped Chanita Dovilla Robeson, 33, of Baltimore from marrying computer engineer Praveen Dhankhar, 23, of Kachhwa on Friday after they fell in love on Facebook. In the process, they turned many traditional values on their head. Not only is Chenita older to Praveen by a decade, she is also a black woman. The wedding ceremony, however was, as traditionally Hindu as you can get, pheras included. Chanita is part of a small but growing breed of foreign brides (mostly Americans) who have found love in rural Haryana and are testing the boundaries of one of India's most conservative societies in the process. "Nobody asks me to cover face with a veil," says Juna Polines, 35, from California, who is married to a national kabaddi player Raju Pehlwan of Chhattar village in Jind. All married women in Pehlwan's family use the veil. "Even my 55-year-old mother uses a dupatta," he says. "Par woh to doosari society te se, wahan koi parda nahi karta (But my wife is from a different society where no one covers their face)," says Pehlwan, who is younger to his bride by five years. Juna also performs pooja with her husband's family at a local temple. "People are very nice here, I love this place," she says. Facebook played matchmaker here as well. "Initially, we became friends on Facebook but later started talking on Hangout," says Pehlwan. The two have not even let the language barrier come between them. Pelwan speaks only Hindi and Juna only English, but they manage with broken English, broken Hindi and a lot of sign language. Juna left California on April 26 to marry her love in Chandigarh a week later. "My parents had no objection on my marriage," she says. Pehlwan's family too is happy and feels that their son has made the village proud. Pehlwan is youngest among three sons in the family which runs a small business of manufacturing utensils. It has been five years since Tamta Kuzanashvili, 28, from Georgia was married to Arun Khatri, 30, of Kundli village of Sonipat. A Delhi University graduate, Khatri is son of a local politician Harichand, an INLD leader. The couple had twin daughters, Ana and Mariya, three years back. "My husband is a Jat, a community known for being harsh to girls, but I have never felt discriminated," says Tamta. "I like Haryanvi kadhi-pakoda and mango pickle apart from fruits like lychee. You don't get them in Georgia." The Khatri family has started exporting textiles to Georgia since Arun's marriage. About khaps, Tamta says, "They are persons who think they are above law but things are changing." Adriana Peral, 41, was a nurse in California before she married her landlord husband Mukesh Ror, 27, in Karnal's Popran village in 2013 following yet another Facebook affair. A divorcee, Peral had a daughter from the previous marriage. The couple now has another daughter, Enya. "My family is eagerly waiting for Peral and Enya who are in the US at present to complete Enya's passport formalities," says Mukesh. Caste no bar, age no bar Caste, gotra and age of the woman -- all these can spark the worst controversies in conservative Haryana, including some brutal honour killings. But foreign brides are more than easily accepted. Even a divorcee with a child will not lead to an uproar. Like Mukesh Ror, 27, is married to an American woman 14 years older to him and Raju Pehlwan's wife is older by five years. "My family told me that they would support me no matter who I marry," says Ror. "Initially, my father objected to our marriage but when I insisted, he agreed," says Praveen Dhankhar, who is the eldest among three brothers and married Chanita Dovilla Robeson. Dhankhar is son of a police head constable while Chanita was a social worker in the US. SOURCE: [link] [/link]


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