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INTER-FAITH MARRIAGES: Faith in Love

  • JWB Post
  •  February 22, 2014

 

When two people fall in love, neither difference in race nor religion can prevent them from tying the knot. Unfortunately, these dissimilarities which begin to become insignificant to the couple are glaring to their families and society.

For the most part, parents of mixed couples do not accept inter-racial and inter-religious relationships, or are at least hesitant about the idea, at first. It will take time before hard times are forgotten and couples can gain support from their families. However, in inter-caste/religious relationships partners are very close as a couple and are devoted to deal with any pressure they receive from their family or society. As a result of committed parents, their children are raised in a very bonded family. The children will have a rich cultural background, which will give them difference experiences growing up. They gain understanding and tolerance of different people at a young age.

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Arthur Blecher, a famous psychologist, says intermarriage parents need to “have a clear plan for how you’ll identify or label your child, make all decisions about the child’s identity as a parenting team, and to acknowledge your feelings and discuss them with your partner” (Glaser 34).

Confession of a child from inter-religious marriage:

“My parents had a mixed marriage. It has been very hard in spite of my parents being very educated and balanced people. They have been married for 18 years, which is truly commendable and though it would be called a success story, I believe that they have gone through a lot and have sacrificed a lot. They loved each other without support from the family and society. But the worst part is that I never knew exactly which religion I belong. Both my parents did not convert, but my mother wasn’t too religious and she didn’t care so I was brought up in my father’s religion. The situation just keeps bothering me about my real identity. I have always felt kind of a misfit as people look at you sometimes with pity, sometimes with sarcasm. Prejudice against inter-religion marriage follows you everywhere.“

When, we talked to Mrs. Supriya Qureshi who was earlier Supriya Parikh, she told her story in her own words:

JWB: How did you meet your husband?

Supriya: I met Dr. Qayamuddin Qureshi when my father was unwell, and he was his physician. He was with my father till the last time, and my whole family liked and respected him for his nature. After my father’s death, when I fell sick, he took care of me and slowly affection developed into love. He proposed me, but I refused at first. Hence, I was not sure of the family’s reaction. I let the time pass, my elder sister got married. My younger brother talked to my mother about our relationships, but she refused flatly. In the course of time my other two sisters got married. I was doing my government job, when suddenly my brother fell seriously ill and had to undergo major head surgery. Throughout the hard times Dr. Qayam was a pillar of strength for me and my family. It was my Naniji and my Tayaji who first talked to my mother and gave their acceptance for my marriage to Dr. Qayam, and finally after the marriage of my younger sister and brother I got married to the man who was a Muslim and who waited for 10 years for me – Dr. Qayam. Today we have been happily married for 11 years now and are blessed with a son.“

JWB: What were your fears while getting into this inter-faith union?

Supriya: When my family accepted our Union, I only asked him one question – What is my future with you? He said he would be with me through thick and thin. He has kept his Vow intact ever since.

JWB: Did you find any difficulty while adjusting in a totally new culture and environment?

Supriya: No, in my view point, every girl marries and leaves behind all her customs and traditions with her parental home in order to learn and adjust in her husband’s home. It was the same for me. I was never forced to follow any custom, tradition or habit. My in-laws have been very supportive and understanding from the beginning.

JWB: Did your son ever question about his belonging to any religion?

Supriya: Once, I explained him everything and cited an example that every tree bears its own fruit, a mango will harvest mangoes. He now knows where he belongs and does not have any identity crises.

JWB: Has anyone questioned you about your decision?

Supriya: Yes, often! I only tell them that I chose to marry a very good Human who understands, loves and respects me as well as my family. He is a good husband, son-in-law and one of the world’s best fathers.

JWB: What would you do if your son decides to follow any other religion or go in for an inter-religion marriage?

Supriya: We have chosen our own path of destiny and would happily help our child to take his decisions. We will tell him all the pros and cons but the final decision will be his.

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It is life’s toughest decisions to go against the values and customs one has been following all one’s life to enter in a totally different world and one should think over few important points before entering in such a relationships.

1. Extreme reactions: Some family members might get very offended and take extreme steps. The only options in this case are either to let time pass for the families to calm down or take help of a matured, sensible mediator to create a talking ground between the couple and the families.

2. Adjusting with different rituals: This is a common problem in arranged marriages too so those going for an inter-religion or inter-caste marriage need not be too worried about things taking a serious turn. Taking things one day at a time and being very open about knowing new things and adapting to change is the best strategy.

3. Difference of opinions while bringing-up children: Even though you and your partner might have accepted each other’s religious values and sentiments, when it comes to bringing-up children, there is a possibility of clashes of opinions. The most important thing to remember always, and keep reminding each other, is that you have both accepted each other with the cultures that you come with for the sole reason of love. This alone should be your outlook while bringing-up kids too. Again, take one step at a time to inculcate this basic value in the children as well. Like, celebrate festivals of both communities and take the kids along to all family functions from both the sides.

4. Dialogue: It is always better to talk openly on all the matters with your spouse from joys of raising a family with Universal Human values of Love and unity to the cremation ceremony after death.

In India mixed marriages are still looked down and wrong but times are changing and we must be flexible enough to change with it. Marriage is a bond between two people and in cases of inter-faith or inter–culture, it is the union of two cultures. It is the beginning of a world where Love and brotherhood form a new culture called Universal culture based on Humanity.

By Ruby Khan,

Jaipur Women Blog Journalist

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