‘My Ritu didi is getting married today
And I’m going to dance in her baraat all the way!’
Ritu Weds Chandni by Ameya Narvankar is a Queer own-voices Indian picture book about a young girl named Ayesha who is positively ecstatic to attend her cousin’s wedding to another woman and to celebrate the joy of their love.
My introduction to this book occurred when I came upon Charvi’s (It’s Not Just Fiction) list of five books she wishes she had read as a kid, and after having the pleasure of reading through Ritu Weds Chandni myself, I wholehearted feel the same way.
As a Queer member of the South Asian community, dreaming of my perfect wedding day to a woman whom I love dearly is as exhilarating as it is terrifying. This thirty-five-page picture book captures the root of these fears’ existence perfectly. Yet, it also does something else. It shows us that there is hope and a beautiful light on the other side. That not everyone is hateful and close-minded, trapped in their conservative bubbles of prejudiced ideals of love and companionship, and some of those kind open-minded and compassionate individuals are people whom we would least expect to understand: children.
The story of a young girl who is brimming with excitement to watch her cousin marry a person whom she loves dearly, and how this child helps to make sure that nothing stands in these ladies’ path was marvellously motivating. The sense of adoration and enthusiasm that Ayesha feels pours off the pages via the vibrant and lively papier-mâché style artwork and the cute way she speaks in rhymes, maintaining a melodious, sing-song aura typical of South Asian wedding celebrations. I hope that this is the first of many more LGBTQIA+ South Asian picture books about love and acceptance of Queer individuals as the recognition of Queer identities and relationships needs to be normalised within such a derisive community now more than ever before.
Ritu Weds Chandni is a fantastically inclusive and heart-warming tale that is a must-read for all parents and children alike. The introduction to same-sex love and marriages is done in a sweet and accessible manner that shall help children to see all the shades of romance and companionship of the world. It also portrays the power that a single individual can garner with their voices and fortitude towards marriage equality, which is far too rare in children’s literature. For anyone wanting to raise more awareness and support for the LGBTQIA+ community, this is an excellent place to begin.
Please note that I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review, courtesy of Yali Books.
Publication Date: December 2020
Publisher: Yali Publishing LLC
Genre: LGBTQIA+ Literature, Indian Literature, Picture Book
Page Count: 35
Content Warnings: Homophobia.
GoodReads: Ritu Weds Chandni by Ameya Narvankar