Photos: Inside Kannada actor Chetan and activist Megha’s socially conscious wedding

Chetan and Megha gave their wedding guests the Indian Constitution as a return gift.
Photos: Inside Kannada actor Chetan and activist Megha’s socially conscious wedding
Photos: Inside Kannada actor Chetan and activist Megha’s socially conscious wedding
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Kannada actor Chetan recently married his partner Megha, an activist, at an event that was as unconventional as it was progressive.

The couple registered their marriage on February 1 at the sub-registrar’s office in Bengaluru, and the next day, had a reception at the Vinoba Bhave Ashram. And while their wedding was not the traditional “big, fat, Indian wedding” that sees shows of wealth and power, it was an extravaganza – one that showcased the grassroots and culture of Karnataka, Chetan says.

Not only did the couple register their marriage under the Special Marriages Act, but their reception at the Ashram on February 2 saw around 3000 people in attendance. The duo took their “vows of values” led by transgender rights activist and Karnataka Rajyotsava Award recipient Akkai Padmashali, who was present along with her partner.

Ask Chetan about his big day, and the excitement is apparent in his voice: “There were people from so many walks of life – actors, politicians, activists… We were not expecting so many people to turn up. But the fact that they did and in such large numbers from all over the state – it meant a lot to us. There was just a lot of love and affection. Nothing was stiff or formal.”

Among the attendees were actor Puneeth Rajkumar and his wife, Ashwini; politicians Lakshmi Hebbalkar, Dinesh Gundu Rao and H Anjaneya, to name a few. The cultural performances included dance performances by Lambani and the Siddi communities in Karnataka, philosophical and Sufi songs, and songs about the Constitution.

In fact, the return gift to the attendees was a copy of the Constitution. “We wanted people to read the Constitution, to uphold and abide by its values, and to share our ideals of working towards an equal society,” Chetan says.

It was their belief in constitutional values that made Chetan and Megha register their marriage under the Special Marriages Act too. “Neither of us believes in inequality or rituals. We wanted a marriage according to the Constitution,” explains Chetan.

And as for their vows, the couple took three– a personal vow, a social vow, and a nature vow.

Inspired by Babasaheb Ambedkar’s 22 vows, Periyar’s self-respect marriage, and other progressive practices of marriage such as those of the Kuvempu community in Karnataka, the vows the couple took were:

“We both through our own free will & mutuality are taking these three vows of values to validate our marriage union.

Personal Vow: We will live the ideals of love, respect, loyalty, honesty, & equality. We will respect & take care of both of our parents mutually to the best of our abilities. We will support one another through thick & thin as loving companions.

Social Vow: We will work to remove discrimination in all forms and build an equitable & just society.

Nature Vow: We will show compassion for all living beings including plants, birds, animals, and all nature.”   

Even the Vinoba Bhave Ashram where the couple got married was a place chosen by Megha and Chetan because they had a connection with it. Since December 2019, the duo had been working with the children in the Ashram, most of whom are from marginalised communities.

The couple bought all the children new beds, and helped paint the walls of the Ashram with images of people from marginalised communities, the working class, farmers, as well as birds and animals from nature. “When the children wake up to those paintings every day, we want them to feel proud of where they come from – their communities – and not feel inferior because they speak Kannada and not English,” Chetan says.

He adds that he and Megha intend to maintain a long-term relationship with the Ashram and the children in the time to come as well, to support them and help them in whatever way they can.

“We value a socially conscious lifestyle. In the end, Megha and I were really emotional and ecstatic that so many people joined us. We hope that they help us in eradicating discrimination, promoting equal opportunity – especially to women and Dalits – and upholding the Indian Constitution in the years to come,” Chetan says. 

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