Maoist revolutionaries promoted inter-caste and interethnic marriages, but many couples now find themselves facing social taboos and uncertain legal status.
When Vawinra Rai, 32, married his girlfriend after four years of dating, he found out firsthand that the revolutionary society he hoped for is a long way off.
During their decade-long armed campaign, as well as during the transitional period that followed the signing of peace accords in 2006, Nepal's Maoists supported marriage across castes, seeing the breakdown of traditional social barriers as a step on the way to an egalitarian utopia.
Rai, a Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) official in the district of Panchthar, put those views into practice. His 20-year-old bride, Vadrika Shankar, is a member of the ostracised Dalit caste, often referred to as untouchable.
Their love story has come at a painful price.
Enraged society and family members disowned Rai after his wedding three months ago and even performed death rituals, as though he had passed away. In the eyes of locals, marrying Vadrika was a grievous sin. Fearing for their safety, the couple had to leave the village of Lumfabung – where Rai headed the village committee -- and move to district headquarters last month,
"The decade-long war has ended, but the inhuman and severe social system remains unchanged and we are suffering," Rai told Khabar South Asia.
According to Tilak Pariar, co-ordinator of the newly-formed Dalit wing of the CPN(Maoist), such stories are not uncommon. Cross-caste marriages, he says, frequently took place among cadres of the now-defunct People's Liberation Army (PLA).
"Marriage between cadres at war time was very natural as intimacy and age demanded," commented Tilak Pariar, "The party also promoted it and even organised a 'progressive group marriage' to float the message of cultural revolution in society."
In the long run, however, it couldn't deliver on its vision of a revolutionary Nepal that would accept such marriages, Pariar said. And the couples who dared break social taboos were left to bear the cost.
According to Aruna Rayamajhi, executive editor of the Janadesh weekly, many of these marriages have ended in divorce as the pressure became too much to bear.
Compounding the problem, she said, the women affected cannot employ the legal system to protect their rights, because their wartime wedding were never registered in a government agency.
Marrying outside the strictures of tradition left many women vulnerable, Rayamajhi said, without any family or social network to assist them in cases where the husband turned out to be abusive or dishonest.
Some wives, she said, have faced misery on two fronts -- emotional and physical abuse from husbands, combined with rejection and hostility from family members unhappy because couples were not of equal caste.
"Hundreds of interethnic couples are in problematic situations mainly because of deviation seen in the male partner," Rayamajhi told Khabar.
"Cadres overwhelmed by calls for inter-caste marriage did it to prove themselves as revolutionary," she said. "But many of them turned to be opportunists who victimised women in our patriarchal society."
Even for loving couples such as Rai and Vadrika, the road ahead is a challenging one. They can only hope that in time the taboos will weaken and attitudes change.
"How much nicer it would be if our family could accept us," said Vadrika." But the situation is such that I can't expect so."