Altar is a documentary intervention on the prevailing customs and traditions of a community called Kambalathu Naicker hailing in central parts of Tamilnadu. Out there in wilderness live this tribal society whose customs of marriages leaves you with a truth that the child marriages cannot be dealt with just legislations but with a larger social understanding. This questionable customs continuously enjoying social sanctions in the communities are the focus of the film intervention.
There is no debate on the point that the issue of early marriages and incest is an evil to fight against all odds in terms of child and women rights. But still the film gives an insight into the perception that a marriage in rural India is not just a relationship between two individuals. Marriages as a system essential for survival in the world, where the idea of state providing protection seems, an alien concept to this tribal community. Urban mind tends to ignore this concept of marriage and looks at marriage in its western form. In Europe and America, marriage is a license to have sex and procreate. In this community where child marriages are prevalent, the sexual aspect of marriage is absent at the time of marriage. In fact a child marriage is so essentially different from a normal marriage, and the film tries to explore this aspect.
However, the film listens to the community’s custom and rituals with a quest of more understanding on how these practices exploit the children and women in particular who form the vulnerable sections of the society.
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