In November 2012 I traveled to Nepal to hear the stories of a young couple who had married across caste lines. Their life in Nepal may seem foreign, but at the root of their story we see struggles that are not so different from what many face here in America.
This Thursday, March 27 I will present a multimedia documentary, Untouchable Love, about inter-caste marriage in Nepal at the Camden Library at 7 pm.
The story centers on two young dance teachers, Nisha and Raj, keeping their relationship a secret. When her family learns of their elopement they go to great lengths to stop it. They do not want their high-caste daughter to marry an "untouchable," the lowest rung on the social ladder of the caste system. Their story offers a surprising discovery of freedom.
The presentation uses a mix of photos, audio, video, animation, and live narration to tell the story. It’s like a cross between a documentary video and a PowerPoint presentation.
In the process of researching inter-caste marriages I learned the caste system is not unique to Nepal, and can be found in over twelve countries. Unions between different castes are still taboo in Nepal, despite new laws. Many of those at the bottom of the caste system suffer from everyday inequalities, as well as horrible acts of violence and injustice. Some untouchables call themselves dalits, meaning “broken people.”
I decided to tell Nisha and Raj's story because I wanted to show audiences how discrimination can be subtle. There are so many disheartening stories of the struggles dalits face such as rape, violence, aggression, and institutionalized discrimination. Untouchable Love is a story of hope in the midst of those struggles. Nisha and Raj represent an emerging trend in Nepal and Southeast Asia, and their story reveals a new Nepal where people are judged, not by caste, but by their hearts.
Attendees can enjoy a cup of Nepali tea before the presentation. A question and answer session will follow the half-hour presentation.