Marriages losing ‘self-respect’ by ‘Dravidian maya’- 2
by Thamizhchelvan on 02 Oct 2009 9 Comments

Self respect marriages – only for cadres
E.V. Ramasamy was of the view that marriages arranged by parents without the consent of their sons and daughters and with huge age difference between the bride and groom, lacked self-respect. He conveyed this view many times through his speeches and writings. As the founder of the self-respect movement and having encouraged, conducted and blessed hundreds of self-respect marriages, he gave a rude shock to his colleagues and cadres, when at the age of 72, he married 26-year-old Maniyammai, not as a ‘self respect marriage’ but as a ‘Registered Marriage’ in front of a government official. His colleagues and cadres perceived it as an act of hypocrisy, which exposed his true colours.

DMK founder and former Chief Minister Annadurai was among those who severely criticized EVR for this duplicitous act. He wrote a series of columns and editorials in his mouthpiece ‘Dravida Naadu’ (Dravidian Nation) expressing his anger and anguish. M. Venkatesan reproduced these columns in his book “EV Ramasamy Naickerin Marupakkam” (The other side of EV Ramasamy Naicker, pp. 118 to 137). 

Rama Arangannal, another EVR loyalist, was also critical of EVR’s second marriage. Senior journalist Subbu, in a serial titled “Poga Poga Theriyum” (Know in due course) totally exposing the Dravidian Movement and its leaders on says, “Rama Arangannal, who likes to act as per his conscience, expressed his opposition to EVR’s second marriage in a unique manner. He compiled the speeches of EVR featuring his views on age-differences of marrying couples and published them in EVR’s own party organ “Viduthalai” (Freedom), as he was Associate Editor at that time. Ultimately, the agitated EVR sacked Rama Arangannal. This incident is a milestone in the journey of Dravidian leaders”.

Despite marrying a woman with a huge age difference as second wife, and showing scant regard to the ‘self-respect’ ritual, EVR continued his campaign for self-respect marriages! In an issue of ‘Viduthalai’ dated April 20, 1962, he wrote, “In ‘Register-Marriages’ the couples only say that ‘we would live as husband and wife as per law’, but in our self-respect marriages, the couples say that, ‘we have our life-contract as companions and we vow that we would share all our good and bad with equal respect’. Do not our self respect marriages ensure equal rights?” (M. Venkatesan; p. 137) 

Legal sanction to self respect marriages 

With the advent of self-respect movement, hundreds of ignorant cadres of Dravidar Kazagam, mesmerized by their leaders’ eloquence, yielded to self-respect marriages. They also forced their family members to have such marriages in front of their leaders. These self-respect marriages have been going on for more than 40 years without any legal sanction! But the ignorant cadres were not aware of this and ultimately lost their self-respect in front of the general public who follow Tamil Hindu cultural traditions with utmost sincerity. Only after coming to power in 1967, Annadurai arranged legal sanction as Chief Minister.      

Annadurai tabled an ordinance in the state assembly recommending an amendment in the ‘Hindu Marriage Act, 1955’ naming it “The Hindu Marriages (Madras Amendment) Act, 1967 and forwarded it to the President of India after the assembly passed it. The President gave his assent on 17 January 1968. It was mentioned in the Government Gazetteer as “Self Respect Marriage Act” on 20 January 1968 and incorporated as section 7-A in the Hindu Marriage Act - i.e. in Central Act XXV of 1955. 

The Dravidian cadres, under the spell of ‘rational’ addiction, added with the joy of their movement capturing power, never felt the urgency or importance of getting legal sanction for their marriages or regaining their lost self respect. Fortunately, legal sanction was given retrospectively, thereby clearing all self respect marriages which happened over 40 years. 

Self-Respect of Christians and Muslims

But there was and is still a big anomaly, which never came out into the open! The hundreds of cadres who had self-respect marriages included Christians and Muslims! Apart from losing self-respect in front of their community, they have not realized the consequences of their foolish act. They failed to note that the Government brought an amendment only in ‘Hindu Marriages Act’ and not in ‘Indian Christian Marriages Act’ or ‘Indian Muslim Personal Law’, because of which their self-respect marriages lack legal sanction. This is a huge blunder, which remains unresolved. 

Advocate S. Swaminathan, practicing in Madras High Court says, “The amendment was made only in the Hindu Marriage Act of 1955 and hence the self-respect marriage gets legal sanction only for Hindus. Till today, the self-respect marriages of Christians and Muslims have not been legally sanctioned, as no amendment has been done in the Special Marriages Act”. The entire legal fraternity seems to be in agreement on this. Ironically, the champions of the Dravidian Movement, who fight for “social justice” in anything and everything, failed to ensure the same in their own pet project of ‘self respect marriages’!

It is pertinent that the Church was against the self-respect movement from the beginning and that the Catholic Diocese warned all those having a working relationship with the self-respect movement. Gradually, Christians who were involved in the movement came out of it fearing severe action from Church authorities. Writer and journalist Subbu documented these in his serial. (

The best example was AT Pannerselvam, a Christian who was one of the founder members of the self-respect movement. Heeding the warning of the Diocese, he slowly left the movement. It is alleged that Christians who publicly had self-respect marriages in the ‘august’ presence of their leaders, secretly had traditional wedding performed by priests in the Church. 

Muslims also followed had secret traditional weddings after a self-respect marriage in front of their leaders. The enrolment of Christians and Muslims in the self-respect movement declined in course of time, possibly due to the hatred towards atheism in both religions. But their religious institutions clandestinely supported the anti-Hindu activities of the Dravidian movement. Such a stand was helpful to achieve their political objectives. Though they were not receptive to the rationalistic and atheistic principles of the Dravidian parties and their self-respect movement, they came together on an ‘anti-Hindu’ platform; this is a historical fact which cannot be refuted. That was why the sellers of self-respect marriages conveniently left the Christian Marriage Law and Muslim Personal Law untouched after capturing power. They refrained from making amendments to the ‘Special Marriages Act’! This is enough to prove that Dravidian leaders were hypocrites and their self-respect movement a political ploy against the Hindus, Hindu Religion and Hindu Culture. 

Mere formality and a political tamasha   

The self-respect marriage was nothing but a 50-minute anti-Hindu propaganda after a 5-minute absurd ritual. The cadres, highly appreciative of this farce in the beginning, lost their interest totally after the hypocritical act of EVR. They realized that their self-respect marriage was viewed as a political joke by the general public, as it had no cultural importance. The occurrence of self-respect marriages dropped heavily due to lack of compulsion after Annadurai split with EVR and founded DMK after the latter’s second marriage in 1949. Then, when MGR came out of DMK and started ADMK in 1972, the self-respect marriage lost its relevance totally, as ADMK turned out to be a God-believing party. Now this farce is being practiced only by DK and a few elements in DMK. 

In this context, an event in EVR’s family is worth remembering. After EVR’s death, a marriage took place in his brother EV Krishnasamy’s family, for which his widow Maniammai was invited. As she was preparing to attend it under the impression that it was going to be a self-respect marriage, she learnt that the marriage had already taken place with complete Hindu rituals, and that what was going to follow was only for public consumption. She decided to boycott the event and EVK’s family had to use all its persuasive skills to get her to the function. The incident was reported in DK’s mouth piece ‘Viduthalai’ then.   

Of late, self-respect marriages are looked upon as political tamasha as the actual marriages are conducted in traditional style either before or after the ‘performance.’ Dravidian leaders who bless these marriages as chief guests, use the occasion to unleash diatribes against their political opponents. Another tamasha is the practice of celebrating their leader’s birth anniversaries with a matching number of self-respect marriages, by roping in couples either already married or set up to act as couples! The biggest tamasha is the fact that atheism, rationalism and principles of the self-respect movement are becoming scarce even within the families of the leaders of the movement. 


The current norm is for people to officially register their marriages as they need these documents for visa and other purposes. So despite having legal sanction, self-respect marriages find no takers as they lack documentary evidence. Hence, even within the Dravidian movement, people straightaway go in for a registered marriage.

When the movement was at its peak, the self-respect champions dreamed that even “mixed marriages” (inter-caste) and “love marriages” would follow the style of ‘self-respect’ marriages. Unfortunately for them, such marriages are taking place only in temples and government registrar offices with the most important ritual of mangalsutra. It is good for Tamil Nadu that the culture destroying ritual called self-respect marriage has been reduced to a shambles.

The author is a freelancer

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