Here's why Indian courts think the Roka ceremony is a social evil!

Here's why Indian courts think the Roka ceremony is a social evil!

"The ceremony of Roka goes back approximately 25 years ago. Under this, a couple is treated as a kind of a chattel," the Delhi High Court observed

A popular North Indian ceremony that marks the beginning of the wedding celebrations is, Roka. Many Indian families have this small ceremony where gifts and money are exchanged between the bride and groom's family. Many of you may have had this ceremony before your wedding, I remember, I did too.

But did you know that Indian courts feel that this ceremony should be stopped completely?

Yes, you read that right.

Roka: a social evil, says Delhi HC

This pre-wedding ceremony that is carried out (sometimes) amid much fanfare has come under the criticism of the Delhi High Court. The court reportedly observed that the Roka ceremony was “a social evil which needs to be condemned.”

“The ceremony of Roka goes back approximately 25 years ago. Under this, a couple is treated as a kind of a chattel. Its significance is that on the account of money given by the family of the female to the male, it is conveyed to the society that neither would henceforth scout for a life partner – the search for a life partner is stopped: Roka," said the High Court. 

marriage

The court added, "It is a social evil which needs to be condemned. It entails useless expenditure and in many cases, becomes the source of future bickering. A Judge has no means to fly back in time to see what had happened,” said the High Court.

Continue reading to see why the courts made such remarks and whether it may affect future weddings!

The appeal against the ceremony

While the appeal in the court was actually a part of divorce proceeding, it also included exchange of gifts during the Roka ceremony.

The remarks were made by a Bench of Justices Pradeep Nandrajog and Pratibha Ranni, who made these statements while overlooking an appeal by a woman whose husband was granted a divorce by a family court on the grounds of desertion and cruelty.

The court noted that among other issues raised, one included the husband stating that his wife did not like the gifts given to her at their Roka ceremony in 2006. Likewise, the wife also said that the husband's family did not like the way gifts were given to the groom's family.

The couple were married in 2006, after 1.5 years of courtship. They had a son in 2007 and a year later, separated.

The result of the appeal

The justices set aside the ruling of the family court and observed that the man suffered from alcoholism and his allegations against his wife that she did not want a child or left him for her parental home were untrue.

“The girl behaved like any other newly married working woman. She shared her soul and her body with her husband, and even the husband reciprocated. But, unfortunately, circumstances overtook him, for which he is responsible. Alcoholism led to bouts of depression in him. He did not take the antidepressants that were prescribed to him. Therefore, he became irritable, and prone to anger at the drop of a hat,” the court noted.

“We bring down the curtains by holding that neither cruelty nor desertion has been proved. The girl’s desire to live with her husband has been established through her testimony and admissions made by the husband, provided he takes antidepressants,” the Bench added.

What it means in the future

Although these statements maybe a reflection of the reality, this may not actually stop people from performing the Roka ceremony. Most North Indians would continue to celebrate this, albeit more carefully in the future.

Read: Supreme Court: Daughters-in-law should be treated like family and not like maids

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(Image courtesy: Pixabay)

Written by

Deepshikha Punj

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