Marx, Lenin and Ho Chi Minh watch Engels wed

Marx, Lenin and Ho Chi Minh gathered at Athirapally in Kerala last Friday to watch their friend Engels tie the knot.

But there wasn't a German, Russian or Vietnamese in sight as members of the local Communist Party, CPI(M), attended the wedding at a boutique tourist destination.

Capturing the giants of communism together in a photo frame was momentous. But Marx, Lenin, Ho Chi Minh and Engels were actually Keralites who were named after the Communist giants by their left-leaning fathers.

Mr Engels and Mr Lenin are brothers, while Mr Marx and Mr Ho Chi Minh are the sons of a local CPI(M) activist, reported the Malayalam newspaper Mathrubhumi. All four men are active CPI(M) members.

Mr Marx even flew back from the hyper-capitalist Gulf city of Dubai to attend the ceremonies when Mr Engels, a native of Athirapally in Thrissur district, got married to Bismitha, also from the same place, at the Panchayat Community Hall.

"Of course, it is very rare to have all the giants in communism come together in a single frame," joked Mr Engels.

Communism remains in vogue in Kerala, where the CPI(M) has governed for much of the last six decades. Many followers of the party are given revolutionary names such as Marx, Stalin and Trotsky.

According to Mr Engels, the Athirapally panchayat (elected council) has been a communist stronghold for a long time.

"Every family here is a staunch follower of the Communist party," he said.

"My dad Thomas and Ouseph, the father of Marx and Ho Chi Minh, have been friends and neighbours. They are die-hard Communists and follow the ideology to the letter,"

Mr Engels has been a member of the Athirapally CPI(M) committee for the past 12 years. Mr Ouseph was its first secretary.

"So, when we were born, our father named us after the German philosopher and revolutionary socialist Friedrich Engels and the founding Soviet head of government Vladimir Lenin," said Mr Engels.

"However, my two younger sisters have normal Indian names."

For Mr Engels, the name has never been a problem. "I have been an active member of the CPI(M) and was with the (left-leaning) SFI (Students' Federation of India) since my school days," he said.

"However, the same can't be said about my younger brother Lenin. He is not into politics,"

Mr Engels' wife was also with the SFI during her college days. She is not active in politics now.

As for giving his children communist names, Mr Engels said: "As a staunch communist, I would like to follow my father's trend. However, this is a decision that I won't be able to make all by myself. I would need my wife to agree to it."

India leant more towards the Soviet Union during the Cold War and Russian monikers including even Pravda - the name of the USSR's state newspaper - are not unheard of, particularly in the south.

Tamil Nadu's Chief Minister is M.K. Stalin, named by his father M. Karunanidhi, a former chief minister, in honour of the Soviet dictator.

A wedding in that state in June saw Socialism getting married in front of brothers Communism, Leninism and Marxism.

His bride was P. Mamata Banerjee, named by her grandfather after the firebrand politician and current chief minister of West Bengal, who ironically ended decades of communist rule in the state in 2011.


"Of course, it is very rare to have all the giants in communism come together in a single frame."

- The groom Engels


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