Why Chetan and Megha are planning a simple wedding

Why Chetan and Megha are planning a simple wedding

From a wedding card with imbibed seeds that grow into Marigold plants to performances including Sufi, Vachana, and folk music, actor Chetan and Megha’s wedding is slated to be one-of-a-kind

Five years back at a social gathering in Bengaluru, a few mutual friends introduced us to one another. Megha was working as an engineer and I was already acting. In spite of residing in the same city, our socio-vocational spheres were worlds apart. Yet, we found a meaningful connect: social service. Megha, who was involved in the social work wing at her company, had been educating underprivileged children, fundraising for flood relief victims, and spearheading environmentally-conscious initiatives.  I had left the US to do grassroots mobilisation in Karnataka in 2005, had been uniting progressive forces that included farmers, labourers, women, subaltern, LGBTQ, students, and youth from across the state.  Our friendship began to grow stronger because of our shared priorities and overlapping dreams of an equitable, ideal world.

Two years ago, we began to discuss the possibility of a life together. We knew that each could make the other better, more complete.  Since philanthropy and activism lacked a structured curriculum, we knew that we could best serve the public by joining minds and hearts. Megha decided to actualise her passion for human rights law and received a diploma in the subject from National Law School, Bengaluru; she is currently studying law here in the city. I began to take activism more seriously along with my film career and started consolidating equality and justice-minded personnel from across the state. 

Since we both always valued the institution of marriage, we hold that marriage should not be rushed into for superficial, societal reasons but considered when we find that compatible, conscientious partner.  As we started working together on issues of poverty-stricken nomads in Hyderabad-Karnataka to marginalised slum dwellers in Bengaluru South, we realised two things: One, we were deeply in love and secondly, we could never find a more suitable life companion than the other.  It is when the heart and mind coalesced that we mutually agreed for marriage.

Wedding will take place at Vinoba Bhave Ashrama

Now that the hard part of finding the right life companion was complete, we began planning the relatively easier process of wedding and its festivities. Equality, simplicity, inclusivity, and social consciousness have been essential aspects of our philosophy; hence, we felt such tenants should be captured through our nuptials as well. Neither of us subscribed to religious rituals especially those that placed the bride and/or the bride’s family in subordinate positions, so we agreed to have a registered marriage in the sub-registrar’s office through the Special Marriage Act. Also, we both understand the negative filial and societal effects of big, fat, lavish weddings and how so many middle-class and poor families are forced to borrow money for their children’s marriages just to imitate a small section of wealthy individuals; we felt that if anything should be duplicated it ought to be simplicity and service-mindedness. For six months, we searched across the city for the appropriate venue whether that be a school or a hospital and were pleasantly surprised when we found the Vinoba Bhave Ashrama, which was housing/educating underprivileged children and taking care of the elderly in the heart of the city. We felt that by renovating the ashrama from compound rebuilding, to overall repainting, to wall art drawing, to room infrastructure

repairing etc, we could both create our own unique, aesthetic wedding space that had all the ingredients of our ideology entwined and ‘give back’ to present and future ashrama residents so they can live a more respectable life.

During these divisive times, we hoped to create a wedding celebration that captures the essence of our Karnataka-ness and Indian-ness — that being multiplicity and diversity.  Hence, we have selected Sufi, Vachana, and folk music as well as vibrant tribal dances from the Siddhi, Koraga, and Lambani communities. Also, since we are both inspired by the egalitarian ideals of self-respect icons such as the 12th-century Sharanas, EV Ramaswamy Periyar, Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar, Phule wife-and-husband, etc., we agreed to take vows of values that would symbolise our dreams and aspirations. 

An example of our vows, which we intend to have initiated by a member of the transgender community, would be that on a personal level we will both take care of one another’s parents in a mutually loving way and that on a professional level, we will both work to rid society of all discrimination whether that be caste, class, gender, race, etc.

Wedding card symbolises nature

Finally, Megha’s idea of an eco-sensitive, hand-made invitation card with imbibed seeds that grows into a Marigold plant when placed in soil and watered has made waves not only in Karnataka but across Telugu-speaking regions as well. Our seed paper card symbolises nature, inclusive growth, and a small piece of our idyllic vision that each attendee can make hers/his.  We also intend to gift everyone who joins our marriage celebration a concise book regarding the Indian Constitution, which can be a reference and blueprint to build the society that India at its best represents.

(The author is an actor and activist)