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Live Updates –HT Brunch Social Media Star of the Week: India Love Project – brunch feature

(Clockwise from top left) Gayatri, a Tamil Brahmin and Milan, a Mallu Christian married each other after a decade-long wait; Saheli Maity and Yogesh talk about overcoming their personal differences in their story; Kalki and her partner, Guy Hershberg share their cross-country love story; Sudipa and Tridip Mandal, an inter-caste couple, narrate their secret wedding; Alisha and Abhiraj Purandare’s tale is about embracing each other’s religious customs; and Sreeya Sen and Vikram D’Souza speak about overcoming an unconventional age gap with their tale!

HT Brunch Social Media Star of the Week: India Love Project – brunch feature

As the conversation around interfaith and inter-caste marriages gained ground in the country in the recent months, three journalists – PRIYA RAMANI, SAMAR HALARNKAR and NILOUFER VENKATRAMAN– founded the page India Love Project (ILP) on Instagram which touched 22.9k* followers within the span of a month. But what makes it the HT Brunch Social Media Star of the Week are not solely the numbers, but the love stories it tells through successful marriages, sans senseless debates… through the engagement it puts out.

“We had been thinking about this idea for over a year as a fully-loaded website, with longer stories and legal support, etc., but never found the time or money to do it. After the ad, we decided to be millennial in our approach and just launched it on Instagram,” says Priya.

Love love stories! 

The project birthed two weeks after a popular jewellery brand pulled down an advertisement showing an interfaith alliance which faced huge backlash on social media. “We were a little surprised with the response and the positivity that poured in,” says Priya. “What’s not to like in real love stories?”

“The [quick growing] number of followers are an indication that we are not so homogenous in our love choices”—Niloufer Venkatraman, co-founder, India Love Project

How do such initiatives help build dialogue? “The numbers are not our focal point, but they are an indication that such a project was needed and that we are not so homogenous in our love choices,” says the project co-founder Niloufer. “Maybe, in these strange times, ILP can contribute to changing the narrative from hate to love.”

Stories of strength 

The first post on the page was by Niloufer, of her Parsi mother and Tamilian-Hindu father. Since then, there has been a steady flow of stories, including some featuring celebrities like Kalki Koechlin and her partner.

What about trolls or hate messages? “The few trolls who bother us are slapped down by the couples themselves, the rest we just restrict.”

The page is also a source of support for couples who need help. “We put out a call for legal and counselling aid and now we have a bunch of volunteers who we connect with couples who need help.”

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From HT Brunch, December 13, 2020

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