Romance has been breaking down racial barriers in India with a sharp rise in inter-community marriages and relationships in the last two decades. The young men and women of today are quite receptive to the idea of inter-religion/inter-caste marriage. However, this reality still has not been embraced very well. That makes Janani Ravindran wonder what is the best part of an intercultural marriage and what are the challenges that the married couples face adjusting to the new culture.
Ankeeta is a hybrid of Kumaoni and Punjabi, while her husband is a Punjabi. She was born and brought up in Delhi while her husband is based in Mumbai. Until her marriage, she had never seen Mumbai. The first two and a half months were very difficult for her and she even contemplated walking out and going back to Delhi. Fortunately, common sense prevailed and she decided to give it a chance. “I am glad that I did that,” says a happy Ankeeta.
It’s surely difficult for both partners to get adjusted in another culture, state or religion at the beginning but as time passes and one learns to get through the good and bad of both, new doorways open. It’s always difficult to adjust in a different environment, but then testing one’s limits is what life is all about. Some experiences are good, some bad but to survive through bad and bring out the good is what is required. “Challenges are always there and so getting through those challenges is important and to gain experiences, because it’s life and not a competition – that’s what required, the sportsman spirit,” feels Joyeeta Talukdar.
Madhuri Maitra seems pretty affirmative of our Indian society and feels that “after a few years, it hardly matters. Everyone is one big family, if they wish to be.”
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Though Sid’s wife and he are from different communities, he feels that it has definitely helped open both their minds by exposing each to new worlds, the way certain things are done and of course, sometimes even the way events are celebrated. His Diwali piece serves as a testament for this. “If you’re ready to accept it and experience new things, it can be an eye-opener. The downside is that a lot of things can sort of start to bug you – especially in the case that my wife’s community is ridiculously patriarchal and it really bugs me. There are also differences in our mindsets and the way we tackle finances due to our background and culture too,” informs Sid.
Of course, none of these are irreconcilable differences, and if you’re ready to make it work, it will. And you may even learn something new in the process.
Marrying outside your community, region or religion means being exposed to a whole new world – up close and personal. As both spouses are outsiders to the other’s eco-system there is a lot of critical approach. “For us, it has been good. Allowed us to assimilate the good of both – in this case the Marwari business acumen, love for socialising, a sense of fraternity, the amazing desserts, and Malayali love for thinking, reading, talking and of course our fish curries – among the many. And often I get special attention for being ‘the exotic Malayali’ bahu,” confesses Nisha with a wink. On flip side, Nisha adds, “Being from another community exaggerates the existence of some prevalent flaws – like patriarchal attitudes, religious differences, for women often – attitude towards their work and career, role expectations and sometimes, even food. I guess it varies from couple to couple, how they choose to deal with these conflicts. But I have seen these often being the cause for irreparable differences between couples.”
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Even though today’s couples are quite open for inter-religion or inter-culture marriages, many parents still think of it as taboo. Maybe they must take inspiration from our Bollywood couples who include Shahrukh Khan and Gauri, Saif Ali Khan and Kareena Kapoor, Aamir Khan and Kiran Rao, and Genelia D’Souza and Riteish Deshmukh.
Inter-religion marriage, though a tough job to be accepted in Indian societies even today, can surely be successful if the couple decides to make it work. Inter religion or intra religion, go for the person you want to be with and live happily ever after.