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India’s urban elite not likely to marry outside their religion

October 11, 2007

Kolkata has been in the news lately for the wrong reasons. Rizwanur Rehman, a Muslim youth who married a Hindu girl is believed to have been murdered. However, his death was declared a suicide. His wife’s father Ashok Todi along with the Kolkata Police Commissioner Prasun Mukherjee are suspected of being connected to the “suicide.”

Update: 12/03/08 – The CBI inquiry has confirmed the ‘suicide.’ Even if its a suicide, no doubt he was driven to suicide by the Todis.

In Indian society, inter-religious marriages raise a storm, although this case went too far. Most likely because Todi is a rich man. Only when two people from modern and financially equal families marry do the tensions created by such alliances have a hope of working out. Not otherwise.

Not very long ago, in a small town in Gujarat, a radical political party actually called a bandh (strike) to protest such a marriage. For some strange reason, political parties and the police get involved in such cases, as if it’s a crime for two consenting adults to marry!

It’s in the context of this that I am presenting a tiny survey of a bunch of upper class people, the majority of them college students from an elite college, and their views on inter-religious marriage. Their answers surprised me because I had assumed that the respondents, some of them barely 20, and also from well-off families, would be fairly open to marrying someone from another religion. Ofcourse, this was a theoretical question, none of the respondents were actually in love with anyone from another religion.

I did not do this survey myself. A 20 year old psychology student did. She offered me her questionnaires (not her analysis) about a month ago and since then I have been thinking of writing about it. There were a whole range of questions asked, but I have summarized the responses to only a few. In all there were only 45 respondents.*

(Due to the small sample size, coming to any sort firm conclusion on the basis of this survey would be erroneous. )

The majority of youngsters said they were not religious Only 44 percent (16 out of 36) if twenty year olds termed themselves as religious or above average religious and the rest said that they were not at all or not really religious. In fact quite a few said they were non-believers/atheists.

About half of the older people said they were religious5 out of 9 adults over the age of 40 said they were religious. Only one person claimed to be a non-believer.

Muslims are the most devout
The sample size was very small…but well, out of 11 Muslims, 9 said they were religious, which is 80 percent.However, only 9 out of the 25 Hindus, about 36 percent, termed themselves as religious or above average religious.And only 1 Parsi out of 4 Parsi respondents said they were religious and only 1 Jain out of the 4 Jain respondents said so.

Not too high a gender difference
12 out of 22 males said they were religious and 9 out of 23 girls said so.

Most youngsters were not willing to consider marrying outside their religion and also said that their parents would never agree to an inter-religious marriage.
I was surprised to find that only 44 percent, that is 16 young people out of the total of 36 said they would ever consider marrying someone from another religion.And about 66 percent said that their parents would never agree to the match (26 out of 36).About half of those who said that they would consider marrying outside their religion, said that their parents would not object. The other half then were willing to battle it out!!

More boys willing to take the plunge outside their religion than girls
Interestingly, 68 percent of the guys (15 out of 22) were willing to marry girls who were not of their religion, but only 47 percent (11 out of 23) of the girls said they would.This could be because in the patriarchal society that we live in, women realise that they might have to adjust far more than the men, even if they are not asked to convert. In fact most youngsters who were willing to marry out said that they would not insist on their partner converting…but ofcourse one has to keep in mind that none of them were actually involved in a inter-religious relationship. This is what they said they would do if ever in a such a situation.

More Hindus agreeable to marry outside their religion
56 percent of the Hindus (14 out of 25) said they would consider marrying someone of another religion, but 44 percent (11 out of 25) said that their families would never consent.Only 18 percent of Muslims (2 out of 11) said they would consider marrying someone outside their religion, and the two who said they would were quite sure that they would never ask their partner to convert.

Surprisingly, only 1 out of four Parsis and only 1 out of four Jains said they would ever consider marrying outside their religion, this inspite of their not being very religious. I mean, on the face of it, it’s natural if a religious person is reluctant to marry outside his/her religion, but in India community also seems to play a major role.

Although the sample size is very small, I think that for Parsis and Jains the feeling of community is very strong. This is from my personal observations of Indian society. In any case, all the Jains said that their parents would never consent, and only 1 out of the four Parsis said that parents would consent.

Well, so that was a brief summary of the findings. It’s significant because these people are the well-to-do educated elite, many of whom live in South Mumbai. But the majority of them are wary of an inter-religious marriage…barely 20-21, but they already feel uncomfortable with the idea! Is this indoctrination? Is it the fear of being unhappy? And in fact were those youngsters who said they would consider marrying outside their religion, simply being politically correct, and would never do so in actuality? Your guess is as good as mine.

*Note:-Total number of respondents:45.
23 F and 22 M.
25 Hindus, 11 Muslims, 4 Parsis, 5 Jains.
36 students and 9 above the age of 40

Related Reading: Why people are religious
Hinduism does not encourage conversions
Are burqas catching on in India?
What role do “Gurus” play in our life?

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52 Comments leave one →
  1. October 11, 2007 8:58 am

    Two points:
    1. Being literate and being educated are two different things.
    2. ‘Education’ is not going to lead to rationality in one’s thoughts and actions. Philosophy (whether stated or a subconscious ‘sense of life’ ) is.
    People with degrees and doctorates are also known to be as superstitious and irrational as illiterates. To give priority to caste or religion when making a choice of a partner is, in my mind, irrational.
    And Rizwanur’s unfortunate death just underlines for the nth time how corruption literally kills.

  2. October 11, 2007 10:43 am

    Thanks Rambodoc. Yes, it is sad isn’t it that education and a ‘liberal’ upbringing doesn’t necessarily make people mature. The problem is that even if a couple decide to take the step, our society and their own families try to ensure that the couple is never happy. Murder may not be the result everytime, but constant interference from relatives can destroy relationships.

  3. October 11, 2007 11:10 am

    There is no need to be politically correct. here Saying that ‘I will not marry outside my religion’ is not something bad. It’s just a matter of personal choice. Also, it’s not as if not marrying outside your religion will be detrimental to society or that it will spark off violence between communities. No way. Only the violence of the type that happened in WB has to be condemned. Not personal choices of individuals.

    Similar is the case with renting your houses. If you do not give it to someone, whatever be the reason, nobody has the right to question that as long. You have to be more careful, instead, in renting out you houses to people with questionable credentials.

    Seeing surveys like these and elaborate articles about it expressing ‘deep concern’ for the results that they give out, only gives me the impression that these people need to be given better jobs.

  4. October 11, 2007 11:26 am

    Harish, no one is questioning anyone’s personal choice. In fact it is usually those who do not want to marry outside their religion who tend to question another’s choice.
    This whole post is about choice, freedom of choice without interference of society and family.
    And btw, I think that these issues need to be brought out and more elaborate surveys done. This is indeed nothing. We need to know who we are…to not want to know or not want to discuss these issues implies that people do not want to see all the sides of the issue.
    No doubt we need to know who we are, and why we do things…whether what we do or think is right or wrong is another issue, BUT we need to know. And also no one has a right to condemn another’s choice of subject, because that shows something by itself. It shows the attempt to curtail freedom of thought.

  5. Vivek Khadpekar permalink
    October 11, 2007 11:48 am

    Rizwanur Rehman’s story is particularly shocking because it happened in a city renowned for its traditions of humanism and intellectual inquiry. If it had happened in a village in Haryana (or even in Gujarat of Maharashtra for that matter) it would have been reprehensible but not as shocking.

    As for the title of this blog, I am not sure what “urban elite” means. Does it mean elite in terms of education and civilising influences or only in terms of economic status? If it is the latter it goes without saying that in anything involving inheritance or transfer of wealth, families tend to cluster together with others of similar standing. And any notions of rebellion the young may harbour are quickly scotched by the threat of being cut off from an inheritance.

    However, that is not how I understand “elite”.

    Elite is an ambiguous word. It can mean both money and education or only one of the two. It can in fact mean anything…even political elite. Elite as a word has far reaching connotations but I think my post (people who did the survey) did explain the title, explained who I was talking about. Nita.

  6. October 11, 2007 12:06 pm

    the figures aren’t surprising at all….but i think if it were conducted in south India there might be a difference….I have a feeling that there is a different mind set here,where only the “status” of the person is seen….

  7. October 11, 2007 12:06 pm

    Cannot add anything significant to Rambodoc’s comment, except to highlight how Indian society raises the price one has to pay if one chooses to be rational.

  8. October 11, 2007 12:06 pm

    Nita: This murder would be called an “honour killing” in the UK and it is so alien to the culture here that the Asian communities apparently practising it – and I am glad I do not meet them – get a lot of press every time it happens. Now many speak against it openly with the support of other Asians who feel awful about these goings-on.

    I agree with Rambodoc. Education is something different from literacy and degrees. I doubt very much that these youngsters will put their wedding certificates where their mouths are, when the time comes.

    The second factor may be ‘arranged marriages’ and perpetuating a particular way of thinking. When parents look for a matrimonial match, they do not go out of their community and comfort zones. Even when they advertise, things like caste, religion, “gotra” and God knows what elements of social taxonomy are listed, so is it any wonder their progeny grows up knowing only _that_ to be the right way? (This btw also ties in nicely to the parenting and religion meme. Somebody should ask all those saying they are religious what they mean by it. Have they studied their religion? Do they think of “Gods” as religion? Do they equate ritual with religion? What?)

    Thirdly I do think the state plays a part too. We have separate laws covering marriages of Hindus, Muslims and so on. If this is a secular state why do we not have just one law? This ties in with the next point..

    Fourth, practices of specific religions that restrict freedom of choice in religion may also be a factor. Hindus often convert to marry Muslims which – I am open to being corrected – may be due to Muslim religious practices. People who have abused this practice so they could openly engage in bigamy include Dharmendra and Raj Babbar (in public domain). BTW others cannot really “convert” to Hinduism so does that make Hinduism a closed religion by design?

    Fifth may be a factor I have written about – emotional dishonesty and lack of openness in parent-child relationships in India. I believe strongly that as children get older, they should ‘bring up’ their parents, by keeping them abreast of new things in the world. Most do not do that. Since parents play a key role in our lives even after marriages, that is a potential problem. So a good open relationship with parents helps. Lets say a person wishes to marry outside his religion and his parents object. What will he do? Marry anyway? Give up the alliance? Or convince his parents? I would wager my money on the last one happening _least_ often… Sometimes an open relationship between parent and child is required BEFORE a child makes them confront their own biases. If the only debate/ disagreement one is ever likely to have is about marriage, then it wont work, will it?

    Just my 2p. I start writing a new chapter today (literally) and I have a mega backlog of comments on my blog 😦 And I have 12 hours before I switch off the study lights for dinner and bedtime…


  9. October 11, 2007 1:30 pm

    There might be some loose parallels between India and the US here.

    According to “The Social Organization of Sexuality: Sexual Practices in the United States”, the most likely people in America to reject inter-faith marriages are Christian fundamentalists. Christian fundamentalists in America tend to fall nicely into Rambodoc’s description of people who, even if they are literate and well-to-do, are not usually well-educated.

    Perhaps interestingly, the authors of “The Social Organization of Sexuality” found, as in your survey, Nita, that men were more likely to be open to inter-faith marriages than women.

  10. October 11, 2007 3:04 pm

    Very interesting! Can you pass this request to your friend who conducted this survey? I would love to know, how many of the respondents would not mind it, if in the future, their own kids married outside their religion. It would be great if she could include this question in her next survey.

  11. October 11, 2007 4:59 pm

    Vishesh, I guess status matters everywhere. Even in this case Rizwanur was a middle class boy so that complicated matters. But ofcourse religion is the major thing…

    Shefaly, yes parents want to arrange the marriage of their kids and that is why they have that same religion/community preference. In fact what is disturbing is that these biases are being passed down from one generation to another!
    I can understand perfectly people wanting to marry people with similar thinking and in fact such marriages will have a better chance of working out…but what many people do not take into account that it is possible to find a similar thinking person from another religion.
    People assume that those from a similar religion will share the same values and it may even be usually so…but not always! In fact one can share similar values and thinking with those who have a similar educational background. And a young woman with modern thinking will be happy with a man who is modern in thinking as well…whatever their religions.

    Paul, yes fundamentalists is a good word. Anyone who rejects (strongly) another’s inter-religious marriage can certainly be termed as that. What business is it of theirs anyway? And where parents are concerned, sure they can try to point out what they feel are the pitfalls in the marriage but not beyond that. One very good friend of mine (hindu) was in love with a Christian boy and do you know what her father told her? I will divorce your mother if you marry him! Ofcourse she didn’t and it was sad, because they were both equally educated, both modern, both in the IT industry, both well-travelled with similar hobbies too! Today this friend of mine is married unhappily to a Hindu who though ostensibly modern (lives in the US) has some very backward ideas on what women should do or not do. Well, now it’s too late for her.

    Anshul, most of the respondents were very young…some of them just 19! Whatever their ideas on it now, everything changes when one has one’s own kids.

  12. October 11, 2007 5:28 pm

    That’s a very sad story, Nita. Love is such a precious thing, such a life-affirming thing — to stand against it and divide lovers is sometimes nothing less than evil.

  13. October 11, 2007 6:06 pm

    Shefaly, I forgot to answer that one very important point of yours…about what religion really means. Frankly I feel people confuse it with rituals. Doing a pooja means you believe…or that you are pleasing God. But I have seen too many really bad people offering prayers for to fall for this! God and rituals have no connection. Which makes religion redundant I think.
    I do not think that God is pleased (yes I do believe in God, I am an agnostic) by offerings of flowers or even prayer. I believe He/She is pleased if I lead a good and pure life. I guess this thinking sets me free. But at the same time let me say that there a lot of good people who are religious and overall I do respect another’s religiosity. But I respect noble qualities even more, which I feel are unconnected with religiosity.

  14. madhurisinha permalink
    October 11, 2007 6:48 pm

    Not only inter religious, but inter state (but same religion) marriages are also frowned upon especially in Hindus. Yes not to the same extent but it is still there.
    Vishesh, i do not completely agree with you about a different mind set in South India. I was raised in Bangalore and i can tell you that South Indians are not open to inter religion marriages. Most of my friends who belonged to Kannada Brahmin and Tamil Brahmin families, did not feel that inter religion marriage was an option. Also my Kerala Christian friends did not fall in love or get married into other religions. The religion and caste system is more rigorous in south India than in Bengal.
    And that is why i feel sad that the Rizwapur case occurred in Kolkata.
    I agree that ignorance about other religions is a massive factor in being unable to open up to inter religious marriage alliances. I also agree with Shefaly that an open relationship between a parent and a child is a must.
    I agree that this is a personal choice, but this survey just proves that even today families and parents provide no options to the children to choose from.
    Thanks a lot Nita for bringing this up.

  15. wishtobeanonymous permalink
    October 11, 2007 7:24 pm

    Nice post and research once again, Nita.
    A few people from my community had to elope to be married to their lovers from a different religion. Some of them have been accepted and some of them have been forever banished from their homes.
    I have an aunt who is a muslim and she is not accepted by her family though I don’t know how her relationship with her relatives is now. I have also noticed that in most love marriages of these kinds, the partners are very tolerant towards each other’s religion though there may have been occasional cases of conversion. I have a friend who is a Hindu who is married to a Christian. Both husband and wife practice or atleast observe some rituals of both religions.

  16. October 11, 2007 8:40 pm

    Madhuri, thanks. Yes, I feel that ignorance leads to prejudice. It is sad that in our country there is so much of it even amongst the younger generation. Do you know that in Mumbai Muslims and at times even Christians find it difficult to get homes on rent in some localities? Sure, I believe that one should have the freedom to lease one’s house to whoever one wants, that is a personal choice…but these people are stopping neighbours too! Whole housing societies come together and decide these things. It is literally a slap in the face of democracy and freedome of choice. I wonder why our nation is not moving forward in this respect…

    wishtobeanon, thanks. Yes I agree the couple themselves can be very understanding of each other. I too know a Christian woman married to a Muslim and she practices christianity and he Islam. But she has to do it in secret…! But they have managed to put up a facade in front of relatives…its sad but for them its the only way.

  17. October 11, 2007 8:45 pm

    I was surprised when I heard a friend of mine critisizing the girl for going to the police with the complaint. According to her she put her parents in a difficult position. There are many more literates like her who have the same opinion.

  18. October 11, 2007 8:57 pm

    Prerna, I think you mean her parents?
    Well, yes I agree, our society will blame the children for putting parents in that situation. Even grown-up children are supposed to obey the parents and not ‘shame’ them and their personal happiness can go take a jump!
    Yes, its sad, and I wonder why these attitudes are not changing…I think basically it stems from selfishness. Parents want obedience from kids and want them in their control, for selfish reasons.

  19. Vivek Khadpekar permalink
    October 11, 2007 9:10 pm


    //Do you know that in Mumbai Muslims and at times even Christians find it difficult to get homes on rent in some localities?//

    Why only Muslims and Christians, even Hindus who are non-vegetarians are not welcome in many neighbourhoods in Mumbai. This is common enough in Ahmedabad, but it is very shocking to find this in a supposedly cosmopolitan Mumbai.

    Speaking of Ahmedabad, the 96 flats forming the co-op in which I stay account for approximately 20% Christian households. But one Hindu North-Indian member presumes, on behalf of everyone else, that Muslims are not welcome. He would like to incorporate this into the bye-laws, which some of us have resisted, successfully so far. But we are a pathetic minority, so who knows what will happen in the future.

  20. October 11, 2007 9:23 pm

    Vivek, absolutely. In fact I mentioned that in my reply to Madhuri. Its absolutely shocking and appalling and I have no words for it!! Some people have got together to proclaim non-vegetarianism as a disease!! While they are welcome to follow their lifestyle, to stop others is a crime! Like you said people who protest are a minority and they can’t do a thing!!

  21. October 11, 2007 9:43 pm

    Vivek and Nita:

    Vivek’s story re Ahmedabad does not surprise me at all. When I was at IIM-Ahmedabad, I remember some riots and some bandh, but the nature of our splendid ivory tower isolation was such that we only found out when the mess manager told us that only potatoes, rice and dal would now be available.. Hmm.

    My observations in life show this simple trend:

    Everyone discriminates against things or exercises control over whatever (little) is in their power.

    In Upper East Side co-ops in Manhattan, if you wish to buy a flat worth a few million dollars, the co-op society examines ALL YOUR FINANCES. Including homes owned, sold, assets, cash, marriages, children, pets and so on. Then they may decide to turn you down in which case you cannot buy the flat. That is it. No recourse. End of.

    South Indian landlords object to North Indian renters as I found out when I lived in Bangalore. Some landlords wanted me to come back home at 7 pm (I worked in the IT industry so this was laughable and I did laugh out loud!). Some wanted me to share a room with some undergraduate girl whom I did not know when my budget was at least 5 times hers. Some told my Kannada speaking colleagues who went with me that all North Indians ate onions! OMG Onions! Tut tut! I went to see some 15 flats, kept up my job and then gave up. Having spent 4 months in a hotel – where they made me dinner outside the menu – I lived in a company guest house with no cooking facilities for the rest of my tenure there.

    So Indian parents exercise control over their children, sometimes directly, sometimes through emotional blackmail, sometimes through grand children. Objecting to inter-caste or inter-religion marriage is just one of those tools.

    Anyway back to writing…

  22. October 11, 2007 10:08 pm

    Nita, in my informal midnight hostel chats, when a few years ago I brought this up, I had some really interesting answers. When I asked them if they would be willing to marry outside their religion, among those that said no, there were a few that said that they had the freedom to but would choose not to marry outside their religion out of personal choice. I of course called them hypocrites but they defended well.

    I got a few gems when I followed it up with what about your kids. They included –
    1. Forget religion, I won’t let my kids marry outside my caste!
    2. It’s fine if my kid marries a non-Hindu as long as the non-Hindu is not a Muslim!
    3. If the kid is a boy then it’s fine, if the kid is a girl then she will have to marry a Hindu. (and I was like wtf!)

    By the way, all these came from guys from the so called Hindi belt. These were very well educated Indians from a premiere institute. I have had some amazing answers on dowry questions too but that is off topic.

    Anyway, that was why I was curious what the present responders think about what they will do with their kids even if it has nothing to do with what they might actually do.

  23. October 11, 2007 10:21 pm

    To everyone here:

    I think it is clear that we have a problem. What troubles me more is the absence of any real solutions. What can I as an Indian in India do about it? Other than blog and comment?

  24. madhurisinha permalink
    October 11, 2007 11:11 pm

    Well Anshul, blogging and commenting is a right thing to do. You have to make everyone aware of situations.
    The steps that i will take is that i will reason with my family members when and if such oppositions to inter religion or inter state alliances arise in my family.
    I have personally married outside my state and native language. But we are both blessed with very considerate families. Few people who grumble will always grumble so…
    I think we can start with our own families.

  25. Vivek Khadpekar permalink
    October 12, 2007 6:33 am


    “Hmm” … indeed!

  26. October 14, 2007 12:16 am

    interesting and detailed indians are family centric….
    though the sample survey was small the fact that this happens was not unexpected to me …
    Each case has its own perils and has to be looked at on a case by case basis
    for a riswanur there is 10 nilofars and that is a big barrier

  27. Rashid permalink
    October 14, 2007 4:44 pm

    Here i would like to notice that in muslim religion one benefit is that we can have marriages as many as we can .
    In our neighbour only my uncle 47 yr married with a hindu married woman of 29 yr having her young daughter with them. It came to know to us that the woman was already had an affair with my uncle knowing that he was of different religion and she was married.Being younger too to my uncle she agreed to tie knot with him and left her Hindu husband.
    Still i dont kow why hindu girls and women are ready to engage with us knowing that we can bring another beautiful girl for marriage.

  28. October 14, 2007 5:37 pm

    I know muslims who would never marry twice even if their religion allows it and i know hindus who have two women in their life. true, muslims might be helped by their personal law, but the fact is that it boils down to character of the person. If a man wants to leave a woman, no one can stop him, whether he is a hindu or a muslim.
    there is no guarantee that nilofar would have married a hindu man who would have been faithful to her.
    if one is talking statistics, yes I too would be interested to know how about how many men and women stick to one partner in their life (I’m talking two at a time)…and you know what, I doubt whether any one religion will win here. Well, that is what i believe because in all the muslim families i know, none of the men have married twice.

  29. October 15, 2007 12:39 pm

    Marrying out of one’s religion isn’t a bad thing at all. That said, most people opt for same religion/caste marriages because the homogeneity of backgrounds makes it easier for people to get along. In a country where arranged marriages still outnumber love marriages, I’m not surprised that statistics turn up like this.

  30. JOJI Achangadon permalink
    October 23, 2007 1:04 am

    hi, nita,
    hats off!! You have been BOLD enough to bring such an INTERESTING as well as productive topic for discussion.
    INTERESTING, because myself read all the comments followed in one sitting. i think, that could be the fact with most of the INDIANS who really want that India should shed some of its backdrops in order to achieve the perfection of the so-called Super Powers. They have enough of their own backdrops, but they trickly use their reach of modern technology & money to hide it from the world community. India was and is enriched with unsurpassing qualities of Spirituality and Religion than any country in the world; i am sure that no other country in the world can deny it!

    BOLD, i told; because you brought this topic on the net community rather safely. I think that you can assume the aftermaths if you could bring this topic on a live stage among the people or on a live telecast!! i mean, violence has a worse effect than so-called ‘freedom of thought’ that you used towards Mr.Harish. Doesn’t he have the same rights?! violence sometimes silence the subject itself. there may be no more advocates for it! Is it not pathetic? then, rationalism & prudence is much more important than advocating for a cause.

    And; yes, as you admitted it; still there are many unanswered questions in this world. Believers reason it as God directs the world and He knows EVERY answer. while Unbelievers project their own comments. Whatsoever, those questions remain unanswered!!!

    If this is the situation, what really is the solution; as Anshul asks and Madhuri sinha answers almost a right answer: yes, we should start it cleaning from our own families.

    Dear Madhuri,
    do you know what a big price you have to give to start it from anywhere? You should discharge EXTRA BOLDNESS! because ‘your own’ (as you may have assumed your relationships with ur family members. in fact ‘they’ are not real. I am not advocating it first time. GEETA tells, BIBLE tells, KHURAN tells, and almost all the religions in the world explicitly affirm it. other religions implicitly. ‘AATMA’. why i used Geeta first; u know? because it is widely known as telling about Aatma.) yes, back to the subject; your own husband, children and all those close may oppose u! nothing to embarass!! Even in such a most diificult situation can you really stand up for your thesis? This is the million dollars question. And if you can stand up to that I SAY this topic of Nita on Rizwanur has won.

    i agree with u when u say “If this is a secular state why do we not have just one law?’

    where u told, “Some wanted me to share a room with some undergraduate girl whom I did not know when my budget was at least 5 times hers”
    don’t u think
    that it is some other kind of descrimaination that u show to others? think…rethink…

    yes, everyone has their own freedom and our own reservations; likes, dislikes. still we SHED some of our rights or freedom for the rights & freedom of the community that we live in, the country that gave us everthing and continues to give us prosperity and protection………
    there we WIN when we join hands to boldly fight the inequalities of the society sacrificing our own interests wherever we can, starting it from our own HOMES to build a better country, a BETTER community so that though we may die and diminish for that cause’

    our coming generations will praise us for our BRAVE FIGHT and they will start enjoying the fruits of it; and wow! what an unequal pleasure in it!!
    DO remember; many of the rights and happiness that we enjoy today are the fruits of such earlier attempts of our ancestors. Hats off to them!! Thus, the wheel of generation rounds and rounds endlessly!!!……………………..
    So, if anyone is not that much bolder to be ready to die for this cause let him NOT ADVOCATE for it! otherwise, it is futile and waste of time.

    India is Secular, will be Secular. Always have thousands of Religions, Castes, Gothras, Languages, Regions, Sexes and all that separate the people. But they won’t separate India.
    Rizwanur case is just an exception; not a general rule. I am not underestimating it. Surely it is something underlying an evil from the part of the culprits whoever they may be. And it should be wiped out from our community and as far as I know the concerned authorities are doing their best in this regard. If one part fails in Democracy the other part will rectify it to the best desired! That is the beauty of DEMOCRACY!!…….
    Hats off to Democracy and its founder. No other form in the world is that much!

    If we can do something in strengthening & speeding up the process of justice available to all affected in this case WE SHALL surely do it! As single we can do little; as joined hands we can ACHIEVE EVERYTHING.

    (thank you, nita, again for bringing up such a wonderful topic)

  31. October 23, 2007 1:15 am

    JOJI, thanks for your appreciation. I agree, we should all do something about this, and one way is to try to convince our extended families and friends of this foolhardy thinking. But deep rooted in this is another thing…our grown-up kids are not really grown-up.
    One instance is this: Chiranjeevi’s 19 year old daughter ran away from home to marry a boy who is not earning. While Chiranjeevi should have not stopped her from meeting this boy, to marry a boy who is supported by his father is an immature thing to do. This is not an inter-religious marriage ofcourse, but parents of the girl are dead against it. Not because of the boy isn’t earning I am sure, but because he must be not as wealthy. Perhaps if Chiranjeevi (he is a no 1 telugy actor) had allowed this girl to date her boy-friend and told her that wait and give it time the girl might not have run away….the problem is that in our society parents want to control their childrens’ lives and this drives their children to do things they shouldn’t.

  32. Nidhi permalink
    October 24, 2007 1:03 pm

    i wish people of our parents age would read these comments and open up their eyes to see the world we live in today. I am a Hindu in love with a Muslim guy and I am going through the same trouble of convincing my parents. I do not know how but I am threatened that I would be a matter of shame if i did so. Its my life and I know the guy will stand by me through thick or thin. I am not even a resident of India so I do not understand which society would my parents be ashamed to face?

  33. October 24, 2007 1:38 pm

    Hi Nidhi. It does seem unlikely that you will be able to convince your parents..but if you are sure that the guy will stand by you even if his parents oppose the match, then it’s a great and wonderful love. And if you are living outside India, you are right, you don’t have to answer to the society here. Best of luck.

  34. Nidhi permalink
    October 25, 2007 9:31 am

    Hi Nita, thanks for your support but I really feel that I am in a distressful situation. I love this guy a lot but my own parents do not even want to discuss this topic. They are anti Muslims. Well, even I was not a big supporter of Islam or for that matter I dont have any Muslim friends besides this guy. But now that I have fallen in love with this guy, I am ready to explore and understand Islam. Not all muslims are staunch, restrictive or irrational. I understand my parents unwillingness to change and to accept some1 from a new faith – but they are not even open to a dialouge. My family realises that there is nothing about this guy that they dislike other than his faith. But what beats me is that, it will be me who will have to live with him and his family, it will be me who will have to adjust, and when I am willing to do that, why does it affect my parents? Can’t they just ignore his faith and talk to him like they would as if he were my friend? Why should I lose the love of my life – just because of a different religion, that I am ok with. At the same time, I worry about my weak hearted parents and how they would respond to all this and that they should take care and be fine and not cry over my situation. I feel so helpless. Here two of us are praying to two separate Gods to get things done – but it doesnt seem to be working!!

  35. October 25, 2007 10:15 am

    Nidhi, please realise that your parents love you, although they may be wrong in their decision not to support you in your love. They think they are doing what is in your best interest, so when you say that:
    “But what beats me is that, it will be me who will have to live with him and his family, it will be me who will have to adjust, and when I am willing to do that, why does it affect my parents?”
    I think the answer is obvious. They love you and they imagine you will suffer.
    Only you know best how rigid your parents are about their anti-muslim stance but I suspect they are very rigid from what you say and won’t change.
    At the same time I hope you are at least 21 Nidhi and hopefully both of you are earning. Whether you marry a Muslim or a Hindu is not the point, the point is whether you are economically independent. If you are not then I would suggest you postpone your decision to marry.

  36. Nidhi permalink
    October 25, 2007 10:23 am

    Well just to assure you, yes I am 25 and both of us are settled working in good paying jobs and will be able to lead a happy, decent living. I wonder if it would be right to go against my parents wishes and be with the guy!

  37. October 25, 2007 10:25 am

    Nidhi, thanks for that reassurance and it makes me feel better to say that if I were you I would go ahead. As long as you don’t doubt your man, and my impression is that you don’t.

  38. JOJI Achangadon, permalink
    October 28, 2007 3:14 am

    i fear whether this discussion board is being reduced from a social forum to the independent problems of single people?

  39. December 17, 2007 10:04 pm

    Even doctors and scientists believe superstitions like gods and souls and spend a lot for marriages and rituals. They believe that natural sciences are different from social sciences. In past, I too believed that promotion of scientific temper eradicates superstitious beliefs but I differed my opinion after reading telugu novel “Janaki Vimukti”. In that novel, Satyam and Prabhakar believes that scientific temper can smash all superstitious beliefs including beliefs on man and woman relations. Later, they differ their opinion. They understand that understanding the society is more important to get rid of superstitions and fundamentalism. Satyam’s sister Janaki deserts her harasser husband and starts new life with Prabhakar without formal marriage. Prabhakar will be successful in make Janaki to shun her superstitious beliefs. Janaki Vimukti novel is also going to be translated into English and will be released with title “Emancipation of Janaki”. Most of the elite class people won’t agree for intercaste and interreligious marriages because they don’t want to lose their family reputation. But some youngsters get ready for intercaste and interreligious marriages because they think that freedom is more important than reputation. Recently, daughter of famous telugu cinema actor Chiranjeevi married a middle class boy. She too knows that her marriage can cause bad reputation to her father but she understood that freedom is more important than the so called reputation. Though she understood a little about society, she dared to break social norms for her marriage. I appreciate her courage as a progressive thinker.

  40. Sahil permalink
    December 25, 2007 11:47 am

    Where was this poll taken? Cosmo Mumbai? You’ve got pretty high scores that’s why I’m asking!

    Come to the hinterland of India and I doubt if we can get similar figures. In the context of India, inter-religious marriages are very risky -unless both families are open-minded, it’s not going to head anywhere. Most Indians depend on their parents, families and community well until their 30’s..possibly their whole lives…I remember one incident in which a Hindu girl secretly married a Muslim guy and it almost led to a communal riot…ultimately, the court marriage had to be annulled and called off..the girls’s parents had her sent abroad for further studies (she’s invariably going to find another Muslim guy there 😉

    This poll is only valid for liberal circles within cosmo cities. We have a long way to go before achieving full acceptance for inter-religious relationships. Thanks for reading.

  41. December 25, 2007 5:35 pm

    @ Sahil:

    Definitely this poll is a metropolitan poll, in fact of a city in south mumbai, which automatically makes it only for the “liberal” crowd! This is mentioned in the post.

  42. April 22, 2008 6:23 am

    Religion and caste differences are not different from class differences. In almost all the countries, most rich people wont approve of their children marrying poor people. If you say money is an essential thing and religion and caste aren’t, I agree with you. But you will have tough time explaining this to Indian public. So i guess what matters most is that you are a good man, and people who care about you and whom you care are good. Forget about others.

  43. April 22, 2008 6:34 am

    I think that south people are more conservative. I have some brahmin friends who are strictly religious. Some of them are so staunch that even eating onions is strictly forbidden in their homes.

    P.S I am from south (A.P)

  44. Kimball permalink
    May 21, 2008 4:00 am

    You must be the change you wish to see in the world. Mahatma Gandhi

    I am a U.S. citizen who has worked against bigotry and social injustice of every kind for most of my life. One most important part of our fight for political, social, and economic justice is to practice equity at a personal level and to then demand it from others. If we claim to want justice but cannot practice it ourselves, then how can we ask it of others?

    I agree that Christian fundamentalists here in the U.S. practice rituals similar to those allegedly based on “religion” in countries all over the world. However, many if not all of these rituals are meant merely to maintain the inequitable social structure, and not demanded by God. These people simply manipulate their religion to support abhorrant social practices. in the end it is all about a socially constructed class and keeping oneself in and others out of a political and economic position you were born into and kept in by others practicing the same acts.

    I am in love with an Indian man whose parents will surely never approve of our relationship. He has already told me that without their approval we cannot be together, as he doesn’t wish to hurt them. I have a son myself, and I personally cannot imagine exerting control over his choice of a life partner or over his chances at happiness with love and marriage. Is there not some innate, nurturing desire for your child’s happiness and for your child’s love for the partner of their choice that overrides these classist social structures? I have heard arguments on both sides, and I find the arguments by parents lack logic or reason, and that the methods behind persuading their children to marry a partner that their parents choose, versus the partner the child chooses, are often implemented with exceedingly unhealthy psychological games, games that would be considered abusive if perpetuated by any other party.

    I would like nothing better than to persuade or convince his parents that our relationship will provide happiness to him, but I don’ t believe that it is possible.

    We are both educated and employed with successful careers, both financially independent of our families, and both living in the U.S.

    No matter what happens in my situation, I will add this to the list of injustices that I will fight against for the sake of others.

    Kimball, the truth is that parents who want to force their kids to marry someone they choose are not interested in the personal happiness of their progeny…and you will understand this if you study the Indian culture. Its a community’s happiness, the family’s happiness which counts and the individual is meant to sacrifice his personal happiness and find happiness in the group happiness. Community is more important than individual. Not all Indian families are like this, but the traditional ones are and they firmly believe that their decision will result in the long term happiness of their progeny. That is the Indian culture for you. Its sad that you did not realise that your man came from a traditional family…frankly it is he who should fight alongwith you. If he doesn’t have the courage, I don’t think the relationship is worth it. – Nita.

  45. Kimball permalink
    May 26, 2008 3:39 pm

    He stood up against almost his entire family and came home hysterical, crying, wanting to die. His mother left the hotel and went to another, threatening that she would commit suicide if he married an American girl. The remainder of the family threatened to disown him. He came back so ashamed and beaten down and scared, shaking and crying. I could not believe that anyone would do this to their child. I told him these these treats are just that – like a child who threatens to run away. His mother isn’t going to kill herself and leave her cushy life and husband and children alone if her son marries an educational, successful American. His family isn’t going to give up thier bread and butter, their only son …. how can they torture him this way?

  46. Kimball permalink
    May 29, 2008 7:46 am

    now she fled and took an overdose all without ever having met me

  47. October 31, 2008 6:22 pm

    My simple request to muslim fellows , please for God sake do not engage yourself with Hindu Girls , Have some mercy , Why you are spoiling image of Hindu community . Have some mercy , Have some mercy. My request to Hindu Girls is that you should not make any love affair with muslims, Better you remain unmarried and do some social service . Afterall you have some responsibility to save the prestige of your parents who brought you in this beutiful world . Please get up awake youself and do not read this message just for reading , it hs lot of meaning , problem is you do not understand . My dear sisters understand the problem of your innocent parents , Have some mercy on them . Have some mercy on them . Hope you can understand my simple language and request ful of full sypathy for your poor parents who can not do anything just for your sake since you are their dear daughter .

  48. kiran Dhaliwal permalink
    November 26, 2008 2:28 am

    i think its up to us the new generation to help take our families forward and try make them realise that breaking traditions and change is not so bad and somthing to be ashamed of. Im a 27yr old doctor living in the UK am from a liberal but traditional Sikh jat family and in love with a hindu punjabi boy. because he is not jat my family wont accept him and im finding it difficult to tell them knowing it will break their heart and wont accept it. i just wish our community would start putting their children and their happiness first instead of worrying about society

  49. Kumar permalink
    November 26, 2008 10:24 am


    Its very easy to say about being mature by saying yes to inter religion marriages.

    If we have a survey on inter religion marriage successes than we can know the facts well.

    In my experience i found.

    Inter religion & inter racial marriages fails within few years or months after marriage.

    If the girl is the hindu in a inter religion marriage she has to suffer a lot for the rest of her life.
    As she is not accepted well in a family.She can’t attend functions of the family.As most of the functions will be religious based and the couples comming for the functions will be in traditional attire this will make the girl mentally disturbed.

    Second marriage for the girl involved in the inter religion or inter racial marriage is very difficult again to get married as a traditional arranged marriage.

    More % of guys tend to accept inter religion marriage as even if it fails they will always keep an option of going back to tradtional arranged marriage.

    Rich hindu girls will have less problems as their parents will get her married again to a hindu boy due to their financial background.

    The middle class & the lower middle class hindu girls & boys will be the worst hit if the inter-religion marriage fails..& can’t imagine the plight of their parents.

  50. a.g. permalink
    May 4, 2010 5:26 am

    This makes me nervous. Although, my boyfriend is liberal, he does come from a Hindu home. He has been in the states for years and is very open minded. He talks about marriage all the time. His indian friends have been getting married to women who are not hindu. I personally think it’s because they are white, American and are willing to marry them.

    However, the two of us are taking our time to get to know each other. Defintely a question i should ask. how would you want our child to be be raised? i personally would want my child be knowlegdble and tolerant of religions and choose his or her own path when they become an adult. I don’t want to shove christianity, hinduism, or agnosticism down anyone’s throat. I think it is important to teach the child basic fundamentals-to be kind and respect others, try to do something to make this world a better place, etc.

    btw, i am not indian nor white.But that’s another story.


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