This is the story of all the new age couples that tie the knot inspite of belonging to different religions. Take the case of 28-year-old Sarah Aikara, a Catholic and an accounts supervisor with O&M. She met Ankur Jain (28), a Jain at their workplace and cupid struck them. After 3 years of dating, they decided to tie the knot. "Initially, both our parents were apprehensive, but later when we had a court marriage this May, they agreed to the union," says Sarah Aikara Jain. This month, they got hitched again in a traditional Jain ceremony followed by a church wedding. Sarah says, "None of us have or will get converted to the other's religion. We both have a cosmopolitan outlook and respect the other's religion," she says.
Inter-religion love marriages are a common tale but an inter-religion arranged marriage is a little tough to digest in our country. 37-year-old Joel Abraham Solomon, a Jew got married to Sunita Chandane (37), a Hindu this June after a matrimonial search of 12 years. "Being a Jew, it was very difficult to search for a good alliance in my own community, as we are a very few in the city," says Solomon, a homeopathic doctor. He adds that Judaism is a very strict religion and his wife would have to convert into Judaism to enter the synagogue or even celebrate festivals. "Initially, we searched for a match in our own community, but when things didn't shape up, I posted my profile on matrimonial sites," he says.
When Sunita said yes to Joel, the only clause she kept was that she wouldn't get converted to Judaism. "The Jews in Maharashtra have imbibed the culture very well. We speak Marathi at home. Our food habits are similar to the Maharashtrians. Moreover, our marriage ceremonies are also similar with the haldi and mehendi, so it wasn't so difficult for Sunita to adjust in our family," explains Solomon.
"In my case, my parents didn't complain or have a problem at all when I told them that I love a Catholic boy," says 26-year-old Arya Anil, a Hindu, who works as a sub-editor with ASAPP media. It was a mutual decision that Arya and her husband Anil took of not changing their respective religions. Arya agrees that adjusting to a new set up is a bit difficult. "The customs and cultures are different. Simple things such as celebrating birthdays are different in both the religions- we celebrate one by visiting the temple and having a holy bath, whereas in Anil's family they bring in the birthday at 12 in the night," she says. Sarah Aikara Jain differs in opinion. She feels that even if she was married to a Catholic boy, adjustments would have had to be made. "Some things are different, such as touching elders' feet. But these things can be followed easily. Me and my sister would celebrate Rakshabandhan and Diwali earlier, so adjusting is not a big deal," she says.
In 29-year-old Shweta Mistry's case commitment was the point in consideration more than religion itself. Born to a Punjabi father and Keralite mother, Mistry, a Hindu had no religion based hassles. But her childhood love Carl Mistry, a Parsi, who she knows since standard 9, was a commitment phobic. "He proposed to me but said that he didn't know how the relationship would head," says Mistry, a PR consultant. Interestingly, even Carl's parents had a love marriage, his father being a Parsi and mother, a Catholic. "One fine day, Carl realised how much he loved me and we got hitched," she says with a smile. Their parents were very supportive and they follow their own religions. The couple had a typical Punjabi wedding ceremony and celebrate all festivals- be it Christmas, Diwali or Parsi New Year.
When it comes to deciding about which religion will their children will follow, the couples are still in a fix. "Nowadays, as many people are marrying outside their communities, kids will not face any identity crisis. We have decided to teach our children about both the religions," says Jain. Mistry says that she hasn't decided whether to have kids, so the question of which religion they will follow doesn't arise.
In this age of globalisation, when we celebrate all festivals and mix up with a friend circle comprising of various castes and communities, it has become easier to marry outside the religion and yet keep the identity alive.