[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Languages
Last Updated: Wednesday, 6 December 2006, 11:46 GMT
Tribe blesses lesbian 'marriage'
By Sanjaya Jena
Orissa

Wetka Poland and Melka Nilsa
The two women have had unhappy experiences with men in the past Pics: Pramod Samantray
An Indian tribe has given its consent to a lesbian 'marriage' in the eastern Indian state of Orissa.

A priest belonging to the Kandha tribe led the ceremony between Wetka Polang, 30, and Melka Nilsa, 22, in Koraput district recently.

Both the women are day labourers and now live together in Dandabadi village.

Same-sex relationships are outlawed in India. The 145-year-old colonial Indian Penal Code clearly describes a same sex relationship as an "unnatural offence".

Sociologists say that a community blessing a same-sex 'marriage' is unheard of in India.

It was not easy for Wetka and Melka to convince their tribe that they wanted to get married and live together - the local community at first fiercely protested at the idea.

The two women then eloped to another village to escape the wrath of their neighbours.

'Unhappy'

After much persuasion by family members, Kandha villagers of Dandabadi finally gave consent to the formal wedding.

Wetka Polang
We love each other very much. We are leading a blissful married life
Wetka Polang

"They [Wetka and Melka] wanted to prove that they can live without the help of men. They also love each other very much. So we decided to forgive them," said village elder Melka Powla.

But the two tribal women had to pay fines to their community to get it to bless their union - they offered a barrel of country liquor, a pair of oxen, and a sack of rice and hosted a family feast.

Eventually, last month, Wetka applied vermillion on Melka's forehead in the tradition of Indian marriage ceremonies before a disari or community priest, said village elder Dalimangi Chexa.

Now the couple say they are happy.

"We are leading a blissful married life. We love each other very much," Wetka told the BBC.

Both the women have had unhappy experiences with men in the past.

Wetka says she walked out of her marriage to an alcoholic after years of abuse.

Melka's family had arranged her marriage with another local man much against her wishes - she managed to break the engagement by telling the man's family that he was mentally "not normal".

The two women now hope to extend their family by adopting the son of Wetka's elder brother.




SEE ALSO
India court rejects gay petition
02 Sep 04 |  South Asia
Gay Bombay comes out
19 Jun 03 |  South Asia
'Girlfriend' causes India storm
14 Jun 04 |  Entertainment
Smashing India's sexual taboos
29 Oct 02 |  Entertainment
Gay couple hold Hindu wedding
29 May 01 |  South Asia
Lesbian film sets India on Fire
13 Nov 98 |  South Asia

RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites



FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

PRODUCTS & SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific