In a country awaiting the Supreme Court’s decision on legalizing same-sex marriage, an extraordinary wedding in Punjab has garnered attention and stirred debate. Dimple, a 27-year-old who identifies using masculine pronouns, and 21-year-old Manisha exchanged vows in Bathinda city, receiving rare blessings from their families in a traditionally conservative Indian context.
The uniqueness of this union lies not only in its same-sex nature but also in its solemnization within a gurdwara, a Sikh temple, complete with traditional rituals. However, their marriage has faced criticism from religious leaders, particularly Giani Raghbir Singh, the highest-ranking Sikh priest, who decried it as unnatural and against Sikh ethics. This led to the suspension of the gurdwara’s priest, Hardev Singh, who performed the ceremony, and three others.
Dimple and Manisha maintain they provided proper identity proof, disputing the confusion claimed by the gurdwara. Hailing from remote areas where LGBTQ+ rights are seldom discussed publicly, their love story began at a garment factory in Zirakpur.
While India decriminalized gay sex in 2018, same-sex marriages still lack official recognition. The Supreme Court recently heard petitions for marriage equality, awaiting a verdict. In this complex landscape, Dimple and Manisha’s union is both a symbol of progress and a flashpoint for debate, as religious institutions grapple with evolving social norms.