A Bhagnari father, to whom I addressed the question of how so many Bhagnari girls are marrying outside the community, responded that Bhagnari girls don't seem to like Bhagnari boys, because they smoke, drink, gamble, stay out late nights, and are fairly boisterous in their behaviour.
The daughter of this gentleman is married outside the community, and is settled abroad.
Bhagnari girls, he mentioned are well-behaved, conscious about acquiring a good education and qualifications, and are respectful to elders.
I honestly don't know if this friend was making too sweeping a generalisation, laying so many charges of delinquency on young Bhagnari males. But I am seriously concerned about the fact that a fair percentage of girls from our community appear to be marrying outside the community. This is my individual perception. At the same time, there is a trend of Bhagnari boys getting linked and tying the knot with non-Bhagnari girls.
Social mores and attitudes change, and today's parents are happy if their children, girls or boys, are able to find suitable matches either on their own, or with their parents' help, within or outside the community.
"We are happy if they are happy", is the oft-heard refrain one gets from parents. And there's no question about stepping in and stopping children from settling down with a partner of their choice. "It is a question of their life, we think they know best, we would not like to become spoilers" is the sentiment I hear from people.
But we, as a community, perhaps, within a generation, could possibly end up losing our identity. We don't really have the numbers to sustain ourselves. Communities across India are trying to hold on to their identities, and the politics of identity (caste, language, religion and region) plays a big role in social, economic relations and elections.
Bhagnaris who have settled abroad in places like Canada, USA and Australia have an aching need to connect with news about Bhagnari community. But one doubts their children have any such attachment to Bhagnaris or Bhagnariyat. Because they are largely cutoff from the community, and besides close relatives, do not seem to have any strong linkages with Bhagnari youngsters of their own age. For that matter, we as a community have given up our strongest bond of Bhagnariyat, our mother tongue.
What do you feel about this issue? This post is an attempt to get Bhagnaris to debate this issue. Write in your views to this blog.