Little Ayesha is all excited for her favorite cousin Ritu’s wedding. She can’t wait to dance in the baraat ceremony! But not everyone is happy that Ritu is marrying her girlfriend Chandni. Some have even vowed to stop the celebrations. Will Ayesha be able to save her cousin’s big day?
This vibrant book sets the story of a same-sex couple struggling to gain acceptance against the colorful backdrop of an Indian wedding.
I technically don’t read children’s books at all because I don’t have kids and I’m not that interested either. But as soon as I saw the premise of this one, I knew I couldn’t let it go. And it was so beautiful.
As the author mentions in his note, India just decriminalized same sex relationships last year, and there is no legal recourse for such couples to marry yet. And while there is activism and more awareness building day by day, there is still a large part of the country that is either homophobic or indifferent, nevertheless not supportive at all. So to see a desi lesbian wedding depicted in a children’s book is such a delight and a beacon of hope for the future, and I hope we see more such representation in various forms of media in India.
The beauty of this book is that it’s told through the POV of a young girl who is very very excited to be a part of her cousin’s wedding and she doesn’t find it odd at all that her sister is marrying another woman. She is actually flabbergasted about why some of her extended family is missing from the ceremony or why there are protestors on the streets. This just goes to show that children are not born with prejudices or bigoted ideas, and we can easily give them a progressive and accepting upbringing. I also loved how the little girl is innocently fearless and is determined to dance at the wedding baraat, despite anyone trying to dissuade them. It’s so joyful to watch her be so pure and happy.
I also loved how bright and vibrant the illustrations were. The little mehendi details, the tilak ceremony, the gorgeous red lehengas of the brides and everyone’s wonderful clothes and jewelry, and both the brides having their own baraat and coming on a ghodi to the ceremony – it had all the best parts of an Indian wedding, and I love the author’s message that we can have a beautiful ceremony with all the traditional trappings, even when it’s two women getting married.
To conclude, this is a very important, hopeful, and pretty children’s book and I think everyone should pick it up; also read it with your children and maybe you can have some nice discussions with them about different kinds of relationships so that they can have a prejudice free childhood as opposed to the one some of us must have had.
PS: Thank you to Yali Books and Netgalley for providing me with this advance copy. All opinions expressed here are unbiased and solely mine.