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Sologamy: India woman’s plan to ‘marry herself’ sparks debate

Sologamy, a wedding ceremony where people marry themselves, has been a growing trend in the West over the past few years. It has now reached Indian shores.

Kshama Bindu has a traditional Hindu ceremony due to take place on the evening of 11 June in a temple in the city of Vadodara, in the western state of Gujarat.

Decked up in her red bridal outfit, with henna on her hands and vermilion powder in her hair parting, the bride will do the customary seven rounds around the sacred fire, she tells me on the phone from her home.

Pre-wedding rituals such as Haldi (where turmeric mixed with oil is applied on the bride) and sangeet (music and dance) will be held earlier in the day. After the wedding, she will visit Goa for a two-week-long honeymoon.

The only missing component from all the celebrations will be: a groom. That’s because Ms Bindu plans to “marry” herself in what is perhaps going to be India’s first case of sologamy.

“Many people tell me I’m a great catch,” the 24-year-old sociology student and a blogger said. “I tell them, ‘I caught myself’.”

By marrying herself, Ms Bindu said, she would be dedicating her life to “self-love”.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

“Self-marriage is a commitment to being there for yourself, to choosing the livelihood and lifestyle that will help you grow and blossom into the most alive, beautiful, and deeply happy person you can be.

“It’s my way of showing that I’m accepting all the different parts of me, especially the parts of myself that I have tried to deny or disown such as my weaknesses – be they physical, mental or emotional. For me, this marriage is really a deep act of self-acceptance. What I’m trying to say is that I accept myself – all of me, even the parts that don’t look pretty.”

Her family, Ms Bindu told me, have given their blessings and will be attending the ceremony along with her friends.

“My mom said, ‘Oh, you always think of something new.’ But my parents, who are very open-minded, took it in their stride. They said, ‘As long as it makes you happy, we’re fine with it,'” she added.

The idea of “marrying” oneself first made news nearly 20 years ago when Carrie Bradshaw, a character in the hugely popular American series Sex and the City, raised it. But the show was a comedy drama.

Since then, reports say there have been hundreds of such “marriages”, mostly by single women. Brides have walked down the aisle dressed in pristine wedding gowns, carrying a bouquet, sometimes with families and friends cheering them on. And in one highly unusual case, a 33-year-old Brazilian model “divorced” herself three months after her “wedding”.

Businesses have also proliferated in many parts of the world, catering to the trend, offering wedding kits, including rings, vows and affirmation cards that say things like “Hell yeah, I’m awesome”.

But since such stories are as yet unheard of in India, news of Ms Bindu’s impending nuptials have become a talking point.

A mental health expert I spoke to seemed “surprised” by what Sologamy represented.

“To me it seems like a very strange concept,” said Dr Savita Malhotra, former dean and professor of psychiatry at PGIMER hospital in the city of Chandigarh.

“Everyone has self-love. You don’t have to break it up or create an external replica to demonstrate self-love. It’s intrinsic to all of us. And marriage is about two entities coming together.”

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The news has also started a debate on social media. Some applauded her saying she would be an inspiration to many, but most people just tried to wrap their heads around the concept of sologamy.

One woman on Twitter wondered what was the need for marriage if there was no-one else involved. Another said it appeared that Ms Bindu was just trying to run away from family responsibilities.

Some even criticised sologamy as “a bizarre and sad act” and blamed it on “chronic narcissism”.

To her critics Ms Bindu has “only one thing” to say: “It’s my decision to marry who I want – whether it’s a man or a woman or myself. And by marrying myself, I want to normalise sologamy. I want to tell people that you come into the world alone and you leave it alone. So who can love you more than yourself? If you fall, it’s you who are going to have to pick yourself up.”

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