Thursday, June 23, 2011

Religious Conversion for Marriage: A Message to Dharmics

Religious Conversion for Marriage: A Message to Dharmics

Religious Conversion for Marriage: A Message to Dharmics
Dilip Amin, Ph. D -

Summary: The proud Hindu parents and youths need to learn to simply say “NO” to a religious conversion request (Baptism, Bris, Shahadah/Sunat; BBS) for an interfaith marriage involving a Christian, Jew or Muslim. This is a true test to help identify a potential religious fanatic. By saying NO to the BBS request, one will increase chances of a guilt-free and long lasting happy married life even if it is an interfaith marriage.

Proselytism and religious conversion of poor and less fortunate Hindus in India is of major concern to many, however silent religious conversions of most educated and blessed our young adults and their children in the West has not raised eye brows of most.

Thirty eight percent of marriages of Hindus, Jains and Sikhs (Dharmics) in America are to Christians, Jews and Muslims (Abrahamics). Forty five percent of Muslims in America marry to non-Muslims. However, there is a limited tolerance for Hindus and Hindu practices of praying multiple forms of the God in Abrahamics’ exclusivist supremacist monotheist religious beliefs1, 2, 3, 4. For this exact reason they expect conversion by the BBS of the Hindu spouse. It is unbelievable but still true today that many marriages in Christian churches and to a Muslim there is a must requirement for religious conversion of Hindus by Baptism and Shahadah, respectively, to the faith of intended spouse. In some cases, a Christian or Jew may not ask for a religious conversion for marriage but will certainly ask to declare the interfaith child as a Christian by Christening/Baptism or Jew by Bris circumcision ceremony, respectively.

Considering divorce rate in interfaith marriages is estimated up to 70%, why would a Hindu gives up birth religion for some intolerant Abrahamic? If Mahatma Gandhiji has to rewrite his famous statement today, probably he would say…“Your religion is like your mother. Just because your intended spouse is demanding that you adopt your mother-in-law as your dear mother, you are not going to abandon your birth mother!”

In all most all cases, the Abrahamic love mate will start by telling a Hindu youth that “I don’t care for all these BBS rituals,” “It is only a formality,” and “do it just to please my parents or grandmother” but don’t underestimate the inner desire of this Abrahamic. Don’t be in a wrong impression that the BBS is a hollow ritual devoid of meaning. Further, the religious conversion is not a onetime event; you are setting a new tone for your life. If you feed a shark, it will come back again for more food. Similarly, religious conversion for marriage will be followed by the expectation of a declaration of faith for your children via Baptism, Bris or Sunat. Later, you may be forbidden to practice your own religion so children would not learn and follow it. Also, your spouse or his/her family may not like to be part of a Hindu religious ceremony while at your parent’s home. When your fantasy love period ends and it transformed into a routine married life, then these issues will become sore points in your life.

Consider the BBS as a “tip of iceberg.” Let’s take example of the Bollywood star Sharmila Tagore. She converted to Islam to marry Mansur Ali Khan and changed her name to Begum Ayesha Sultana. All her 3 children have Muslim names and were raised as 100% Muslims. Their son, Saif Ali Khan's wife, Amrita Singh, had the same fate as Sharmila except later she got talak (divorce). Further, if Kareena Kapoor marries to Saif, probably the same saga will continue. For your daughter (or son), do you wish for the same religious fate like Sharmila? Would you not say “no” to the “unintended” BBS and divert the love Titanic away from a major disaster?

If your doctor tells you that you have a high cholesterol or blood pressure, would you not be concerned about future massive heart attack or stroke? A request for the BBS of a Hindu for marriage should be considered as an alarming sign for a major trouble coming 15 years into your marriage life.

If your intended spouse (or in-laws) is expecting the BBS religious conversion, especially for your children, then you have one of two choices: 1) accept his or her Abrahamic faith and be prepared to give up your birth religion and cultural heritage completely or 2) clarify that you have pride in your birth religion and ask for equality by denying the BBS religious labeling request. Promise only what you mean. A married life based on misleading assurances or lies will have serious consequences later for both. The married life is a long journey; do not start in a wrong direction.

Many times, without realizing long term consequences, Hindu youths may opt to accept a new religion just to please their intended spouse and in-laws. Further, in many cases, the Hindu parents allow Hindu children or grand children to convert to the other religion just to please their in-law. There could be 101 reasons to say “no” to Abrahamic’s proselytism tactics, while there is not one good reason for a proud Dharmic parents to say “wonderful son, go for the BBS” other than parent’s lack of courage to speak out.

These days, most Abrahamics are not religious fanatic, are open minded and thus will not expect the BBS from the intended Hindu spouse. But you want to make sure the one you are dealing with is not an intolerant for what you are. Keep in mind that the “tolerance” and “open mindedness” are not measurable characteristics and could change with the wind. However, the denial of BBS is a simple litmus test to find out the “true color” of the intended spouse. So Hindus youths and parents need to learn to ask a simple question: is there any expectation for the children of this marriage to have Baptism, Bris or Sunat?

Love is often not a planned event. Further, love is said to be blind to religion. If so then why only a Hindu is expected to be blind? Check if it is the love of his or her Abrahamic faith or a love for you comes first. It is Dharmic parents’ responsibility to guide their love-blinded children for equally of both faiths. The BBS has no place in an interfaith marriage with equality.

In many cases, when a Hindu adamantly deny the conversion for marriage and for their progeny; the other party considers and will understand it. When there are other options available, why not ask for it? Bollywood star Rhitik Roshan and Suzanne Khan kept two religions out and got married by a civil wedding, and it is an admirable act. A similar message has been given in Jodhaa Akbar, Gadar and Namastey London movies. If the BBS, which is nothing more than a religious conversion, is an absolute requirement from your potential Abrahamic in-law, why you will want to tolerate some one’s intolerance for what you are? Further, by submitting to the BBS request, you are nurturing and propagating Abrahamic’s intolerance practices against other innocent Hindu youths.

Marriages are made in heaven; however very high percent of interfaith marriages end in divorce. With such a high failure rate, why one would want to give up own birth religion irreversibly? In many cases, a divorce costs lot more than the marriage. The BBS promise will certainly have legal consequences, and after the BBS, Hindu will find difficult to win a child custody case against an Abrahamic. Check with your lawyer and view this video before submitting to the BBS request.

When it comes to college education, Hindu parents will do anything possible to make sure their children have noting but the best. For example, if their son or daughter gives up a high flying medical carrier for a bar tender job and finds a real joy of life, the Hindu parent will sure to give hell till the child changes his or her mind. Similarly, if a Hindu young adult becomes a cocaine addict, the parents will not support it by saying that “we want to see you happy and you decide what ever is right for you.” Contrary to that, when it comes to religious conversion for marriage many Hindu parents have no guts to guide their children or courage to face the Abrahamic in-law. In this Obama’s tolerant America, it is time for a “change.” It is time to say NO to the BBS.

In general Hindu parents are great bargainers when it comes to purchasing a car or a house; why not use the same negotiation skills when your son or daughter selects an Abrahamic interfaith marriage mate? One needs to respectfully deny for conversion by stating that we are Hindus and wish to remain exactly the same after the marriage. More specifically, tell your potential in-laws that we will not tolerate Baptism for a church wedding or Shahadah for Nikaah, the Islamic wedding. Further, proactively tell them that we will not tolerate Baptism, Bris or Sunat religious circumcision label for the grand children, especially when there is no scientific merit to the circumcision. Your tolerant potential in-laws will surely consider your request. At least one should ask just to learn of their “true color.”

If your Hindu daughter found a handsome and well educated Hindu and if that intended spouse later asks for - - $5,000 dowry - - as a pre-condition for the marriage, what would you think of that guy? Probably you may ask your daughter to reconsider her decision with the fear that this junwani (old timer) may bring more troubles later in her life. Similarly, why any one should tolerate if some junwani Abrahamic asks for your - - religious pride as dowry - - for the marriage?

Many parents tolerate the intolerance and accept the thought of religious conversion for their children thinking this is an easy fix to the marital grid-lock. Further, there is no risk to their prestige in the Hindu community since no one will find out. However, time will come when for these proud Hindus, now grandparents, will have a guilt feeling seeing their grand children following a different faith. It will not be pleasant for these proud Hindu grandparents to drive their Abrahamic grand children to a Church or synagogues or Mosque/Madrasas for religious education. This guilt feeling will get worst when time comes to pass your hard earned life estate for the benefit of the believers of the Abrahamic faith. At that time you may wish, instead of this “my way or no ways” BBS deal; the grand children had an option being Hindus.

You may be a Hindu for hundreds of generations. Is your Abrahamic son or daughter in-law worth so much that you are willing to end the Hindu heritage now? Was that the dream you came to the West with?

The BBS is a social evil for interfaith couples. No youth will bring up the talk of BBS in an early dating period with the fear of being labeled an intolerant. To present the BBS demand after years of romantic relationship is an ugly form of proselytism. No honest Abrahamic youth believes in imposing the BBS on their intended interfaith spouse; however they end up doing it because of pressure from their intolerant community and religious institutions. Unfortunately, instead of enjoying the most quality time, the couple has to resolve the BBS issue by uncomfortable discussion just before their marriage. It is hoped that soon there will be an end to the BBS religious conversion practices for interfaith marriages.

Well-informed and well-thought out decisions for selecting a life mate will certainly bring long lasting happiness in a married life, even if it is an interfaith marriage. But most importantly is that one wants to make sure you will have the freedom to follow your traditions and raise your children to do the same without threats to this liberty created by the Abrahamic in-law and his or her religious institutions. One of the most important things a Hindu, Jain, Sikh or Buddhist parents and youths need to do is to pro-actively say “no” to the BBS religious conversion practices of Christians, Jews and Muslims.