The couple has responded to comments made by a section of the Kodava community criticising their decision to wear the traditional Kodava attire.

Dr Sharath Ponnappa and Sundeep Dosanjh Sundeep Dosanjh and Sharath Ponnappa / Photo by Kam-Reh vision
news LGBTQI+ Sunday, October 11, 2020 - 14:08

After photographs of a gay couple's wedding in California, in which they were seen in traditional Kodava attire, drew homophobic comments from a section of the Kodava community, the couple has responded to the criticism and asked the community members to "open their minds and engage in positive dialogue over the issue.”

Dr Sharath Ponnappa, a Kodava, married Sundeep Dosanjh last month and in one of the wedding ceremonies held on September 26, the couple wore traditional Kodava attire. This led to objectionable comments from a section of the Kodava community including from the Madikeri Kodava Samaja President KS Devaiah who called the couple's actions as "against Kodava culture." He found support from a few other traditionalists within the Kodava community. The comments were made after photographs from the wedding were shared widely on social media in Kodagu district, the native place of Kodavas. 

The couple had earlier declined to comment on the criticism from a section of traditionalists in the ethno-lingual Kodava community, but on Sunday, they decided to break their silence and hit back at the homophobic comments made against the photographs from their wedding. 

“We knew there would be dissenters, but we’ve literally been fighting against homophobia and for acceptance since the day we were born. We are fighting to survive and be treated the same as our peers. However, we proudly choose to live our truth, celebrate our same-sex marriage and encourage the dissenters to open their minds and engage in positive dialogue to understand that all humans are created equally and deserve respect and love,” the couple said in a statement.

Read: Kodava attire worn in gay wedding in the US has traditionalists upset

The couple had invited the media to the wedding in an attempt to spread awareness among Indian members in the global LGBTQI+ community. “Change is inevitable. Mindsets will evolve (history is proof of this). When it comes down to it, there are two sides that every person on this planet chooses to be on with regard to every single thing: the right side of history or the wrong side of history. We are living our truths. The choice is yours to make if you’re on the right side of history and choose to join us or if you continue to be on the wrong side of history,” they said.

Sharath and Sundeep had also received heart-warming support from others in the Kodava community including popular fashion designer Prasad Bidappa and actor Gulshan Devaiah who said that the couple's decision to wear Kodava attire is a mark of their respect for Kodava traditions.

The traditional attire is worn on special occasions like weddings and festivals by Kodavas. "I look at the picture and they look beautiful and all that matters to me is the coming together of two people who love each other. I see the fact that they decided to wear the Kodava attire as a mark of respect and celebration of the Kodava traditions,” Gulshan Devaiah had earlier told TNM.

In December 2019, Sharath fell in love with Sundeep after meeting the latter on Instagram. At the time, Sharath was an emergency-medicine psychiatrist at Rhode Island Hospital in Providence, USA. He has been living in the United States for the last 13 years and has now shifted to Sacramento after taking a job there.

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