Marriage of the students
In May 2013, there were wedding ceremonies of our few ex-students continuously after Pinky madam (sewing class teacher). May is one of the most big marriage season in all India.
And, I attended wedding ceremony and engage ceremony of our ex-students. The ex-students are 18 years old. In India, female can marry in the age above 18 years old, and male can marry in the age above 21 years old legally, below that age is prohibited. They(girls) are 18 years old, and it is legal. We can say that they won against old customs of child(early) marriage. They were even able to study in a college.
Despite being illegal, child marriage is common in rural area in India still now. Here the area around Bodhgaya is also same. It is said that villagers have marriage ceremony twice. First time in their childhood (around 8 years old), second time after girl had started menstruation (around 11 to 15 years old), before that time girls live with their parents, after starting menstruation girls shift to husband's house. Who to marry is depend on their parents. I think that the reason why this kind of customs have been kept is to maintain marriage between same caste. If boys and girls fall in love by their own mind, the person who he/she loves doesn't necessarily always same caste, rather, the possibility that he/she is same caste is lower. So, I think that parents in villages force to marry their children with same caste before the children become to have feeling of love.
Many girl students quit our school because of marriage forced by their parents between 13 to 15 years old till now. An ex-student who married in 13 years old became a mother of 2 children now, and one of them admitted to our school this year. An ex-student S married in 16 years old, could take matriculation exam on the next day of her wedding ceremony, but gave up higher education. Her husband and his family didn't allow her to take higher education. She was good at study, and had been forced to marry without her agreement, she is hard to accept her marriage life still now.
I and teachers have explained to the parents of our students about the problems of child marriage and its illegality many times on some occasions. The ex-students who married in 18 years old and their parents understood and kept the promise between us.
Pinky madam who is 20s trained herself to be a good bride. And the ex-students in 18 years old seemed to have fears and embarrassment, but accepted their marriage arranged by their parents with slight of hope and feeling of giving up.
A few years of difference.