In Payyannur, they call it the "Haryana kalyanam (marriage)". According to local estimates, over 100 women from Payyannur town and nearby villages have been given in marriage to men in Haryana. The latest wedding was between Jagbir Singh, 28, an electrician, and Kamala, 27, a Hindi graduate, on May 31. Jagbir hasn't come alone. The marriage of his friend Ajit Singh, 33, a baker, and Omana, 31, an anganwadi teacher, has been fixed for June 3.
While there is some explanation for Haryanvi men coming here, what about the women? They belong to the most literate state in the country and to accept a groom from a completely different culture, and from what some might call a retrograde one at that? Says researcher C.K. Viswanathan, who travelled to Haryana to understand the phenomenon: "You may wonder why. Can't Kerala girls find suitable alliances here? The fact is that for many it is a question of survival. Isn't it a comment on our so-called progressive state, that a woman can't remain single and has to marry against all odds?" Ex-chairman of the Indian Council for Historical Research, Prof M.G.S. Narayanan, agrees: "It's a fact...abject deprivation often forces local girls to traverse such great distances for a Haryanvi. But if our girls are so much sought after in marriage, I would welcome that."