Tuesday, April 6, 2010
All rivers run to the sea when speaking of religion. That it does not matter what religion you are; that you can get to God by way of any religion. So why are you so worried about what religion your spouse or your children are?
I am a Roman Catholic by birth and my wife is a Hindu. She has a deep faith in Hinduism and very religious. I am not that religious but respect all religions. We love each other very much but neither of us doesn’t want to convert. She feels that her family should be in one belief for her children to be brought up in one faith. But I believe that we can compromise in this by not converting me as a Hindu and she as a Christian and still can bring up our children as good citizens.
Let the children grow. Let them go in School. When matured, let them adapt a religion "of their choice". Let them be good citizens of a State and let him enjoy the adult franchise. Let them select a partner of life. Respect the "Human rights & rights of children".
Even my parents had an Inter-religious marriage. My mother Motubai Rau Valaulikar a Gaud Saraswat Brahman married my father who was a Roman Catholic during the Portuguese regime. My maternal grandmother was from Bhobe (Vaishnav sampradaya) family of Mapusa and my maternal grandmother belongs to Smarth Sampradaya. However these type of marriages too were rare during those times.
My parents too did not convert themselves and practiced their own religion separately though they stayed together. Both my parents have left for heavenly abode. When my father died, he was buried as per the Christian rites while my mother was cremated as per the Hindu rites.
As for me, I read gospel in the church as well as sit for Shree Satyanarayan mahapooja with my wife Savita. We celebrate Christmas as well as diwali. There is Akash Kandil on our house during the Diwali and Star during the Christmas, children also prepare a crib. And during guddi padwa, a guddi outside the house. My wife also celebrated haldi kum kum every year.
With the changing of times, we are getting more and more open and accepting our fellow human beings precisely on their personal qualities. It’s not any more a Hindu, Christian or a Muslim or a White or a Black so to say… well to some extent. Inter-religious and Inter-racial marriages are getting equally acceptable and common. However, to be a success, any marriage requires two people who are respecting, responsible, honest and sincere. When two people meet in matrimony, they should respect each other, especially so if it’s an inter-religion marriage. It is very important to remember that all the religions teach the same basic goodness.
With the changing social scenario, a change in the mindset of the people can be seen, but mostly among the city people. Though people in cities have learned the nuances of caste system and the positives of inter-caste and inter religious marriages.
We are sometimes unnecessarily wasting our precious time in proving that a certain religion is better. In the process, there are instances, when things have gotten very ugly. We actually do not attain anything by proving our religion better than the others. Do we ever create big fights over proving our spouse better than the others, or our children better than the others? Don’t we all know or believe that our children are the best yet we never try to prove it to others. I personally believe we only want to prove something, which we are not very sure of. If one is sure that his religion is better then there is no need for him to feel inferior about it. That’s the way religion should be we know our religion is better – that’s the reason we have adopted it. It is personal – to each its own.
Religion is a way of life. We by the virtue of being born in a certain religious backdrop learn to follow a way of praying or accepting God as Christ or Krishna and so forth. Thus following the teachings. I don’t see the teachings of Krishna any different than that of Christ. How does it matter then which religion is ancient?
The second most important factor in an inter-religious marriage is the religion followed by the children. There is a constant hustle in the parents that the child follows his/her religion. Isn’t it more important that a child becomes a good human being? This can be taught to him by adopting the goodness of both the religions. Here, it’s very important for parents not to be selfish. We should focus on teaching the child good values which everyone would agree is the basis of every single religion. There have been instances, when adults abandon the religion given to them by their parents and adopt some other religion that they are convinced is better. I think we should let our children decide what religion they would like to adopt when they are capable of deciding for themselves.
It is very unfortunate, that the religion has become a business and source of power for some and a reason for conflict among people of different beliefs. It is sad but in the past 22 years of our marriage, most of our Hindu acquaintances have looked down upon Christianity and most of our Hindu acquaintances have suggested ideas as to how I can convert my wife.
Unperturbed, we both have learnt to respect each others' individuality, each others religious beliefs, faith and preferences, thereby making our inter-religious marriage a successful one and this world a little more happier and a harmonious place to live.
True, If we learn to respect others religion and leave them alone with their preferences, this world will be a happier place.