Amidst the spirit of tolerance that favours intercommunity/interreligious marriage in India, an issue that rears its ugly head is what religion would a child be if the parents are not of the same faith?
Since deep down inside, most people really do feel that way, it is important to deliberate on the openness in the Indian mindset or the lack of it from the point of view of religion, tradition and society. What is the success rate and how does one truly feel about inter-religious relationships and marriages in India?
Having a successful marriage entirely depends on how a couple deals with the ups and downs of marriage, how adaptable they are and ready to stretch themselves to accommodate their partner, how they relate and respond to each other and deal with situations and issues in their married life, not on whether they were raised with the same religious customs and beliefs.
Earlier seen as too radical, mixed marriages are rather commonplace. In fact, waking up to this global phenomenon, the Indian society is witnessing more successes than catastrophes in mixed marriages nowadays. Some of the reasons that mixed marriages are thriving are discussed below.
Strength of character.
Couples who are sure of themselves and confident about what they want in life are seen to wade through the complications by successfully integrating their cultures and bringing up their children with a blend of principles drawn from their cultures.
"What's the big deal, anyway?" attitude.
As long as they feel that they did nothing wrong by going for a mixed marriage, didn't compromise their children's happiness, or feel they did nothing to warrant society's censure, they are not going to let wrong notions about intercaste/intercommunity/interreligious marriages affect them or their children.
Spiritual vs. religious.
The belief system of couples settled in mixed marriage is reinforced by their keen understanding and recognition of the subtleties of character and spirituality. They believe in maturity and spirituality and gloss over the smaller though rigid differences of communities and religions that often appear to loom large and close in on the marital front.
Discerning and discriminating.
A values-strong upbringing helps family-conscious individuals to make a correct choice regarding life partners. It helps them strengthen their understanding and respect for all castes, communities and religions. This leads to little or no caste/religious conflict. Such couples expose themselves to both the cultures/faiths.
Appreciation of individual differences.
People going for mixed marriages appreciate individual differences and treasure their positive traits.
Strangely enough, the concept of mixed marriage has not sunk in many Indian families staying in India and abroad. Parents advocate arranged marriages with the logic that if it worked for them, it will work for their children as well.
Exposure to people from other castes, communities, religions and race in modern cities raises the chances of young people marrying someone outside of their caste, community or religion.
Parents fearing the worst about marriages that raise issues of caste, creed, religion and race in future, create an identity crisis for apparently confused children go all out to choose life partners for their children and create opportunities for prospective bride and bridegroom to meet at a temple or Indian social functions.
Advocates of the arranged marriage system blindly believe in the matching a couple's religion, caste, creed and horoscope, in an effort to stack the odds in favour of marital adjustment. They bring into the picture another dimension of adjustment, that is, having to fit into a whole new culture if you marry out of community.
Though these claims seem to have no rationale behind them, most members of the older generation refuse to grow out of it, choosing to remain in denial.
Those against mixed marriages also associate such marriages with loss of identity for the kids. They feel caste, customs and religion in an overbearing way dictates one's life and acceptance into the community. Children with parents from different castes/communities/faiths do not have a sense of belonging, nor a sense of identity.
T here is still no guarantee that marrying the person of the same caste, community and religion will give you a great marriage.
Mixed marriages can actually pleasantly surprise you. Those marriages that society had shunned has actually gone on to witness years of marital harmony.
If parents keep open lines of communication, and allow their children to freely talk about what's going on in their lives, stay by them in their struggle to adapt and ensure they are not confused, there may be more acceptability on both sides.