I am back after a long break. As promised, this post is about religion. Most Indians are very sensitive about religion. This sensitivity to one’s religion is common considering several religions with radical viewpoints co-exist in our country.
Being of a religion is not as much a problem, as it is to convert your religion. It has often invited trouble, as many innocents would realize hard way.
Conversion of religion is no longer uncommon in India. Attempts to formulate a law to stop the conversions are a common scenario in any Indian state. It happened recently under a ‘secular’ Congress state government of Himachal Pradesh.
Though the reasons for religion conversions can be varied. There are some who do it to garner hype. Remember writer Kamala Das (sadly at this point of time I am unable to remember any of her books and poems, all I remember is some flippant columns written by her for newspapers), she converted to Islam with pomp and show when she acquired a Muslim lover. (Sadly, this lover spurned her later, and Kamala Das was back to denounce Islam. I am not aware of her current religious status.)
Dalits and other so-called ‘lower’ caste citizens who are ill-treated by so-called ‘higher’ caste Hindus convert to Christianity and Islam all the time.
There is a third category as well—young couples whose love transcends the boundaries of religions. It is this third category that sparked off this post.
Anticipating the opposition from their families and societies, these young couples from different religions often elope, convert, and marry. There is not much that they can do there. A Hindu marriage requires the two individuals intending to marry to be Hindus. Nikah happens only between two Muslims. There is a Special Marriages Act for people who marry across religions. But it requires a long bureaucratic process that requires a month’s notice wherein the danger of anyone objecting their marriage can not be ruled out.
Such a love story took the nation by storm this month, courtesy our news media of course. Priyanka and Umer became talk of the nation. It seems Umer, a muslim boy, converted to Hinduism (rechristened to Umesh after conversion) to marry a Sindhi girl in MP. People in their no-so-modern neighborhood were outraged. So much that the local police detained Umer’s brother for inexplicable reasons. It seems Umer’s other brothers have also married Hindu girls who willingly converted to Islam.
RSS, or was it Bajrang Dal created agitations over the issue. They alleged conspiracy and argues why couldn’t Umer’s father accept his son’s conversions and accept his Hindu daughter-in-law when he already has two daughter-in-laws who converted to Islam after wedding. RSS and Bajrang Dal called a band and floated a new organization called Hindu Kanya Suraksha Samiti to protect Hindu girls from being preyed by guys of other religions.
New diktat for women comparable to those in Taliban’s have been announced that prevent them from using mobile phones, wearing scarves (Muslim women wear scarves, you see) or riding two wheelers. Hmm, Hindu culture is being well defended.
One day, it could be you or me. If one day I decide to elope or marry outside my religion, my personal matter (at best, I may call it my family matter) may any day become the talk of the nation, a political issue with vested interests of the bigots.