The Indian parents of a gay man threw him an elaborate traditional wedding, in a ceremony that clearly defied their home country’s attitude to homosexual relationships - but has inspired people across the globe.
The two grooms performed all the standard rituals of a traditional wedding, including exchanging flower garlands and getting matching henna tattoos of each others initials.
Vijay and Sushma Agarwal, the groom’s father and mother, emigrated from India in the 1970s and said they were shocked when their son came out as gay in 2004, but refused to turn their back on him.
Rishi told Scroll.in that he only plucked up courage to tell his parents about his sexuality after he finished his accounting studies at university, having been brought up in a strict Hindu household.
He said: “It was a tough time for me. It struck home - the feeling that I am never going to have [a family wedding] - marry the person I love, and share that. It was hard to accept.”
Homosexuality remains illegal under threat of punishment in India, and being gay is still very much a taboo subject among the majority of traditional Indian families.
Rishi’s concerns were compounded by the suicide of one of his Sikh schoolmates after the boy’s parents rejected him on account of his homosexuality.
Instead, Rishi’s father told him: “You’re still our son and we love you. This is strictly our baggage, which we bring from India.”
Vijay told of how he was turned down by seven Hindu priests who refused to marry the couple in a traditional ceremony.
Once Rishi came out, the couple realised five of their friends’ sons were also gay.
Sushama told The Star: “Nobody would talk about it. They just keep hush, hush, hush. Our community is very hidden in these issues.”
Rishi and Daniel recently decided to share their story to show the possibility and hope for future acceptance of homosexual relationships in India.
Rishi said: “Unfortunately others have not had such good support in their lives.”
Public discussion of homosexuality in India has been inhibited by the fact that sexuality in any form is rarely discussed openly.
Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code makes sex with persons of the same gender punishable by law.
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