INTER-FAITH MARRIAGES IN INDIAN SOCIETY
Anyone vaguely familiar with ‘Bollywood’ the hub of Indian cinema has read about interfaith marriages of celebrities. The recent wedding of Saif Ali Khan with Kareena Kapoor is an example that celebrities are least bothered with this issue. Perhaps the underlying notion is a common cinematic dialogue; “an artist has no religion.
Whatever the reason may be; the rest of the society is not at par with the conduct of celebrities when it comes to this sensitive issue. Interfaith marriages are not easy anywhere in the world but the rest of the habitants of this blue ball have progressed much better than their Indian counterparts.
After the Second World War; a Jew marrying a Christian was unthinkable and for the majority even a grave sin. Today in United Kingdom or USA this matters hold little relevance and examples of interfaith marriages are in abundance. The underlying factor is that grip of religion on society in general has weakened. Clergy controls little thanks to a truly secular system and Government.
The same is not true for India; in India despite being the world’s largest democracy and a secular country has not yet embraced secularism in letter and spirit. It is true that several religious groups exist in India but all of them more or less are more religious than actually thought. The Hindu religion is still dominated by the Brahmins and Pundits maintain control over the temples. But their domain stretches beyond the temple walls as common people hold in great reverence the clergy and they are often considered a medium through which ‘God’ or ‘gods’ will answer their prayers.
When we focus our attention to Moslems or Christians living in India; they have the same regard for their clerics. Perhaps being a minority they feel that it is essential to maintain close liaison with God through their ‘Molvis’ or ‘Pastors’. The bonding also is facilitated by occasional discriminatory incidents in the society. Thus religion is deeply embedded in the Indian society and its people.
We are concerned with the religious implications of interfaith marriages; our purpose is to understand the social stigmas associated with the whole issue. It is a known fact that Christians consider marrying a Sikh or a Hindu a grave sin and vice versa. Our Indian Law however prohibits no such relations or marriages in any form. But laws are made for people and when people in general do not value or agree with the law; its enforcement often remains a fantasy.
We do not advocate nor disown the practice of such marriages. However there is an ugly truth buried deep down in the ground that violence follows interfaith married couples like death follows its victim. Everyone is free to do as he or she pleases and this includes the measures necessary for creating a congenial environment so that an individual can do as he or she pleases without fear of repercussions from any quarter.