Naomi Schaefer Riley has this to say to conclude her article in the New York Times – “So while I recognize that the diminishment of religious institutions and a rise in marital instability could be among the long-term effects of interfaith marriages, I cannot wish for the tide to ebb. Nor do I think it will.”
In India, there are two types of marriages as shown in the cartoon on top. My own marriage is what was called a Love Marriage because, our parents and families had nothing to do with our selecting each other to get married to. Mine was also an interfaith marriage. I am a Hindu and Urmeela was a Methodist. Neither of us were practicing any kind of religion at the time of our marriage. Our son Ranjan for want of a better alternative calls himself a Hindu and believes that Ganesha looks after him. I disagree. Ganesha has provided Ranjan with me to look after him.
My interfaith marriage lasted a little over forty years and was what could have been called a successful marriage. We had no confusion about what rites or ceremonies to follow or festivals to celebrate. We did them all including Muslim ones as one of our very close relatives converted to Islam to marry a Muslim girl. Once Ranjan grew up and started going to college, we stopped following all rites and celebrating all festivals as we found them to be totally meaningless. I still do not.
In my family, interfaith, inter-caste, interlingual and international marriages are quite common and no one bats an eye lid when someone announces a marriage which could fall into any one of these characteristics. We also do have the arranged marriages and that too is perfectly acceptable. We also have one same sex marriage within our family and so that too is part of our tradition. We now also have live in relationships within the family without anyone batting an eyelid about them. All in all a crackpot family in the eyes of traditional Indians.
All Indian families are however not like us. Most of them are orthodox when it comes to marriages and all the negative things about marriages that Naomi writes about happen more within the arranged and same religion / caste / language etc combinations. Somehow the interfaith marriages seem to survive longer and in better condition. Or at least they seem to within my sphere of experience and observation. There are however commentaries that I keep hearing about or reading about that both arranged and love marriages have 50/50 chance of success/failure.
Our society, particularly in urban India is undergoing major upheavals and there is a lot of flux in all institutions including that of organised religion and marriage.
We live in interesting times and with increasing globalisation and wealth even events like the clip below have become passe!