Kolkata, the capital of India’s West Bengal state, has just seen its first transgender wedding. Tista Das, the bride, and Dipan Chakravarthy, the groom, got married in a traditional Bengali ceremony in August 2019. It is now being known as the state’s first ‘rainbow wedding.’
“It’s a bond of love,” said 38-year-old Das, who is an activist and actor. “It’s a bond of liberty also. And this is the solidarity of our souls.”
The rainbow wedding comes a step forward for the transgender community in both, West Bengal and India as a whole. Their lives, living on the periphery of Indian society, have been well documented and condemned. Only in recent years has progress been made. In 2019, the Madras High Court ruled that a trans woman could be recognised as a ‘bride’ under the Hindu Marriage Act.
Das also spoke of her struggle for years to reconcile her identity as a woman “in this brutal society.” Her struggle, like so many other transgender people, was only heightened by India’s history of discrimination and intolerance towards the community. India’s Supreme Court only recognised members of the transgender community as a ‘third gender’ in a landmark court ruling in 2014. “It is the right of every human being to choose their gender," the court had said at the time, in granting rights to those who identify themselves as neither male nor female.
Das’s mother was the only parent at the event, and has reportedly been supportive of her journey from the beginning. Chakravarthy’s family has not accepted their son. But the couple—both of who have undergone sex reassignment surgery—was otherwise surrounded by family, friends, and other members of Kolkata’s transgender community who were thrilled at this historic moment.
“I attended the wedding as Tista has been a long-time comrade in our struggle,” Ranjita Sinha, member of the West Bengal Transgender Board, told India Today.
Das and Chakravarthy met at a transgender legal clinic, where the groom works. They got engaged in April 2019, on India’s National Transgender Day of Visibility.
“I always believed love has no gender and Dipan and I have proved it,” said Das.