Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Inter-religion Marriages – Know the Issues Behind

India, despite its economic and scientific advancements, is still continuing with its social reforms. Though, it was able to eradicate some of the age old evils such as sati, child marriages and dowry system by enacting strict laws and stricter punishments, it is yet to introduce changes in the age old customs, related to, inter-caste marriages and inter-religion marriages. Despite the efforts of the government, social reformers and other leaders’ inter-caste marriages and inter-religion marriages are still considered as taboo in India.

The impact of globalisation and the abolition of caste systems have certainly increased the percentage of such marriages and they are slowly gaining social acceptance in India. But, such acceptances continue to pose other complications. Unlike the marriages that take place within the caste and religion, the people who undergo inter-caste or inter religion marriages, need to take certain precautions, to safeguard their personal identity. Especially, they need to be aware of the issues and rights, related to upholding their religious identity, following of the rituals and assuming the surname after the marriage.

Upholding religious identity:
Though, some of the couples who undergo inter-religious marriages are wisely able to sort out the issues, related to continuing their respective religions and worshipping respective god/gods, most of the others have problems, in adapting to such changes. In an inter religion marriage, It is often the bride who suffers the most. Instead of leaving the decision to the conscious of the bride, she is often forced to change the religion, in the name of family interest. Instead of the bride taking a decision on changing her religion, it is often the unanimity among the household including the spouse, influences her decision. The bride should realise that it is her choice, to follow the religion she has followed all the years. This issue, if sorted out well before the marriage, will avoid much of the heartburns after the marriage.

Following the religious rituals:
Every religion follows its own set of rituals and adopts different beliefs. What is right for one religion need not be right for the other. It is essential to understand the importance of various festivals and rituals, followed in each religion and show interest and respect to them. It will not pose much problem for the couples ,who decide to respect the religious faith of the other. The rituals include wearing the right type of dress, preparation of food and others. Also, sorting out of the issues and taking an unanimous decision related to the religion to be followed by the children, helps in smooth sailing of the marriage life.

Assuming the surname after the marriage:
It should be remembered that India is one among the few countries, where some of the tribes and communities follow matriarchic system, where female is the head of the family, while others follow patriarchic system having male as the head of the family. Though, during the earlier times the law required the wife to assume the surname of her husband, the dispute in assuming male name in the communities that follow the matriarchic system, warranted a family court act correction in Bombay High Court. The court clarified ‘“a wife, who has not changed her name after marriage, by publishing in the official gazette, may continue to use her maiden name”. Though this has come as a breather to many women it was equally disputed by many.
Ultimately we must remember that it is only the mindset and give and take policy of the people who undergo such inter-religion or inter-caste marriage helps in keeping the marriage intact and surviving for years.