Being casteless: A Kerala couple’s 3-generation encounter with a leaky religion


There’s no room for religion, caste or ‘love jihad’ in Fasuluddin and Agnes’ nearly 50-year marriage

Fasuluddin and Agnès with their children and grandchildren

In this age of hatred and animosity based on caste and religion, where ‘love jihad’ and ‘narcotics jihad’ are common expressions, a family in Kerala stands like an oasis, offering hope for humanity. The ‘Casteless House’ at Kallumala near Punalur in the Kollam district of Kerala is now in its third generation.

It all started around 50 years ago when Fasuluddin, now 72, fell in love with his Christian neighbor – a social shock in the 1970s. When Fasuluddin and Agnès decided to get married in 1973, there had religious obstacles that they had to overcome. They did it with enormous willpower and trained two generations with rationalist beliefs.

against all odds

Fasuluddin, who holds an automotive engineering degree, was in charge of taking transport contracts for the Food Corporation of India (FCI). When the respective families heard of his romance with Agnes, there was a lot of noise and Agnes was placed under “house arrest”.


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Fasuluddin moved the High Court of Kerala with a habeas corpus petition, and the court granted a writ on October 29, 1973. Justices Sadasivan and Y Khalid heard the petition, asked if the couple wished to marry, and told the parents they could not force their daughter to stay at the House.

“Her parents took her to court and after that we lived together. Both families were wary of our relationship at first. Much of the resistance came from the Jamath (an Islamic council), of which I was a member,” Fasuluddin said, recalling his union with his wife nearly half a century ago. Jamath authorities issued circulars asking members not to visit their homes, and Fasuluddin was ousted from Jamath. “They asked my relatives not to visit me and for at least three years none of my relatives visited me. However, we decided to continue, hoping for the best,” he said.

Amid all the animosity over his relationship with Agnes, there was never an allegation of love jihad, and the overwhelming protest came from his own community, Fasuluddin said. The Jamath committee summoned him and asked him to convert Agnes to Islam, he recalls. “I was reluctant to convert anyone. In fact, we received community fulminations for our decision. This pained us and we decided to sever our ties with religion, giving up going to church. I was a believer and Agnès too. She had even decided to join a convent to protest against not being allowed to marry,” he said.

Say no to religious rituals

“After these harsh experiences and following mental conditioning after reading the works of (rationalist author) AT Kovoor, we decided to sever our ties with the Church and cut ourselves off from religious rituals,” said he declared.

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Fasuluddin further recalled that stones were thrown at his house following the protests and there were fears that they could be physically assaulted. Looking back, he said, he could understand the Jamath’s concerns – the members feared one of them was going astray and took it upon themselves to correct him.

Recounting her experience, Agnes said: “Since then, I have never visited a church to pray or participate in rituals. However, later when some relatives died or when we were invited to weddings, we got into the habit of visiting the church. However, the religiosity in us faded away forever.

Fasuluddin and Agnes

There have been attempts by the clergy to persuade them to come to church, she said. Fasuludddin recalled that since she knew about the slander against them at the time of their marriage, she never asked him if she could go to church. “And I never encouraged her either,” he said. “Since then, I never thought of going to church for religious purposes. We thought that instead of practicing religion, we had to live well,” said Agnès.

Names without caste or religion

Their distrust of religious symbols also carried over to their children. In protest against divisions based on caste and religion, they named their eldest son “casteless”. “When he was admitted to school, we filled in the religion column with ‘nil’,” the parents recall. “We never trained them to adhere to any religion.” The second son was called ‘Casteless Junior’. Their third child, a girl, was named “Shine.”

“At the time of marriage, they also ruled out religious factors,” Agnès recalled. Casteless is married to Sabitha, who is again from an interfaith marriage – her father is Muslim and her mother is Christian. Casteless Junior (CPI city councilor and former city vice-president) is married to fellow college student Rajalakshmi. Shine is married to Che Guevara, a 3D designer and the son of atheist Muslim parents. All three marriages were solemnized under the provisions of the Special Marriage Law.

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The grandchildren were also given non-religious names. Casteless’ daughter is Alpha Casteless and her son, Indian Casteless. The daughters of Casteless Junior are Alpha Casteless Junior and Agna Casteless Junior. Shine’s daughter is Alida Che Guevara. Alpha, Agna and Alida are students at Toc H Public School, Punalur. All grandchildren were cared for without any religious sentiment.

don’t miss religion

“They (her parents) were isolated after the wedding with a small group of friends who supported them morally,” recalls Casteless Junior. He added that he and his siblings had no problem practicing no religion. In fact, they were proud of their parents’ decision not to follow any religion, he added.

Fasuluddin reflected that none of his children or grandchildren had a soft corner for any religion and could see all people devoid of religious angles. “I myself may have a tinge of religiosity in me since I was born a Muslim and practiced it for some time, but I can assure that none of my children or grandchildren have that feeling. because of his non-religious upbringing. They all see every individual as a human being,” he said.

Reflecting on the amorous jihad controversy, Fasuluddin said it is highly unlikely that people would opt for interfaith marriages for an ulterior motive, including to increase a community’s numerical strength. “In the context of North India, I cannot say. But in Kerala, such an incident never happens,” he pointed out.

“If anyone thinks that way, it’s totally wrong. There’s no point in this controversy other than creating community issues.

A happy third generation

Indian Casteless, son of Casteless and third generation member of the family, shares the sentiments of his parents and grandparents. “Like my name, I wish India, my country, to become caste-free as well,” he said.

His name is quite special, and he knows it. “All are curious when they hear the name ‘Indian Casteless’. Many would befriend me,” said Indian, who is a student at the Indian School in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates.


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