Ties of FAITH
checks out some interfaith marriages in a society where religion
still plays an important role when it comes to choosing a life
Navreet, a Sikh from Kashmir, who got married to Milton, a Protestant, walks down the aisle with her father
Hrithik Roshan and Suzanne Khan had an interfaith marriage
Shah Rukh Khanís wife Gauri is a Hindu
Mohan Krishnan, a Hindu, with Sikh wife Maneesha Singh
Kamal Dash, a Brahmin, and Loveleen Kaur, a Sikh, married against their parentsí wishes
Nupur Amarnath, a Brahmin, with husband George Koshy, a Christian
Imran Khan recently got married to a Hindu girl Avantika Malik
Alice, a Hindu, is married to a Sikh, Manav Inder Singh Guram
Hrishant Goswami is anchoring Channel Vís Love Kiya Toh Darna Kya
IN India, both
marriage and religion are sacrosanct. Can the two mix and live
happily ever after? What is the fate of interfaith marriages in
the Indian society? Is there an acceptance of such alliances?
Are religious differences a cause of matrimonial discord? What
are the dynamics of such a marriage vis-ŗ-vis the couples and
their respective families?
sociologist Zafeena Suresh, "The concept of marriage has
undergone a change due to increased spatial mobility and
emphasis on individualism."
Dr Simmi Waraich,
Consultant Psychiatrist, Fortis Hospital, Mohali, adds,
"The increasing number of late marriages and nuclear
families are the reasons why key matrimonial decisions are in
the hands of todayís youth."
Mohan Krishnan, a
Hindu, got married to a Sikh, Maneesha Singh, this January.
Theirís was a workplace romance that got solemnised at a court
wedding. Says Mohan, "Parental support helped us in being
able to take such a decision in peace."
About rituals of
which religion were followed while solemnising their marriage,
Maneesha comments, "We are against following rituals. Since
we are self-reliant professionals, we organized the court
proceedings and the reception too!"
On whether such
marriages are on the rise, Mohan Krishnan says, "We do not
think such marriages are anymore visible now than they were
previously. Surely there is more transparency about preferences
for individuals to make a more informed choice."
This sentiment is
echoed by newly weds Nupur Amarnath and George Koshy, who got
married in March this year. The groom is a Syrian Christian, and
the bride, a Hindu Brahmin. Both media professionals had met
each other at a friendís place.
On choosing a life partner
from a different religion, George says, "I think religion
should be excluded from matrimony, business and politics. Faith
is a bad way to judge a personís character.
What we were
looking at were issues of compatibility and understanding. I donít
believe in organised religion but in spirituality and in being a
good human being."
Is the tide
Is there a change
in the matrimonial cosmos, or is it merely a flash in the pan?
Have we been able to shatter our bourgeoisie mentality of
finding a socially "appropriate" match? Yes, it is
true that in a country with 1.21 million people, the same-faith
matchmaking saga still continues. Says Dr Waraich, "The
Indian parent is over indulgent and invests immensely in his
child. Consequently, the Indian child is comparatively less
individualistic and does take social harmony into account while
taking such decisions.
Ours is an intrusive society and so, even
the Ďloveí marriages at a majority level are of the
same-faith variety, barring those in metros or among Indians
living abroad. Though there is a certain practicality attached
with same-faith marriages, but interfaith marriages is a trend
that seems inevitable."
So when faith
succumbs to love, does the story of the star-crossed lovers have
a happy ending? How do their respective families and most
importantly, the couples themselves resolve their religious
Kamal Dash and Loveleen Kaur, former a Hindu Brahmin
and the latter a Sikh, met at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New
Delhi, in 2004 and tied the knot against the wishes of their
parents in 2009. Kamal elaborates, "There has been stiff
opposition from my family, which has been extremely painful.
Acceptance from both families has been superficial and that has
caused tension in our lives."
"Our parents were unhappy, firstly because we married to a
partner of our own choice and secondly because we had an
We do try to understand their perspective
and try to balance it with our need to live together. So we try
to be happy and intend pursuing our creative and professional
Is this the secret
of post-marriage happiness in an interfaith marriage? According
to Zafeena, "Understanding issues of an interfaith marriage
is extremely important even before the marriage takes place.
Faith of children, family ties and security are some major
issues that affect the marriage."
Kamal and Loveleen
speak of their marital balancing act, "We strongly believe
that God exists and we pray according to our traditions. We both
go to our respective places of worship.
We both do yoga and
study Hindu and Sikh scriptures." Kamal believes that when
they have a child; he/she will be given a common interfaith name
and the freedom to choose her religion.
couple is that of Navreet Michelle Milton and her husband, who
belongs to the Army. Navreet is a Sikh from Kashmir and Milton
is a Protestant. Recounts Navreet, "As a child I was
exposed to all religions and customs, so my parents did not have
any objections to the alliance.
But my relatives stiffly opposed
this match." Navreet, who got married in 1999, believes
that to balance religious equations in the family, one religion
has to be given priority, which, in their case is of the fatherís.
Navreet adds, "Yes, my sons do go to gurdwara and church
but I wanted them to identify with one religion; so they have
been baptised. I also, purely by choice, follow Christian
She concludes that each marriage is unique,
though perhaps more adjustments have to be made in an interfaith
one, but it does not work if the compromise is one-sided.
Does love conquer
Though there is
intense media exposure about the celebrity inter-religious
marriages, yet this trend remains limited to page 3 circles and
There still exists social anxiety and ill-reception
of such alliances. Channel Vís Love Kiya Toh Darna Kya
is a show where much in love GenNext couples try to woo their
parents into accepting their partner, who may be of a differing
caste or religion.
Prem Kamath, General Manager, Channel V,
says, "This show is a reflection of the obstacles and
issues faced by a majority of Indian youth in their personal
relationships. We try to help such couples break the barriers of
We have had couples from cross-country love, to
inter-caste conservative matches. Though some family members
have agreed to give time to the children yet, in most cases,
accepting such relationships becomes a no-no for families."
So even the
younger generation, with a superficial freedom to choose a life
partner, have to bear parental rejection.
Alice and Manav
Inder Singh Guram is a couple who had an interfaith match, much
before this trend became the in thing in the media. The bride a
Hindu and the groom, a Sikh, were classmates till they decided
to tie the knot in 1992.
Elaborates Alice, "My family was
not overtly religious, so there was no question of opposition.
Yes, there were some adjustments that I had to make post
marriage, primarily because I had been exposed to a cosmopolitan
Sometimes, though there isnít overt rejection of the
inter-religious ties but when you scratch the veneer of
acceptance, then peopleís reservations peep through. Such
alliances, therefore, are more conspicuous in metros."
alliances are on the vrise or not is debatable, but we are still
bound by the unwritten societal norms. Each of these couples has
tried to balance the cultural, social and religious equation of
their marriage in their unique way.
There isnany blueprint to
ensure the success of such a marriage; but whatever be the case,
one can safely say that a marriage, among other things, still
remains a matter of faith!
Dr Simmi Waraich, a partner should not impose oneís
religious choices on the other. Here are some more tips to
smoothly navigate an interfaith marriage:
- Understanding, respecting and accepting each otherís
religious beliefs will help overcome marital obstacles.
- In a
marriage, mature communication is integral. It is best to
communicate to each other of oneís religious leanings
and the role that they would play in life, post marriage.
parents on both sides can not only bring wisdom to the
table but will also ensure a stress-free environment.
- A well
chalked out plan of action will leave less room for errors
of judgment. Post marriage, there are issues that may crop
up that may cause friction, like planning holidays, family
functions and having children.
- In an
interfaith marriage the key to survival is tolerance and
acceptance of each otherís religious rituals and
traditions. Not making an ego issue of simple belief and
practices is the mantra to follow.