Ask women what we want before banning conversions for and after marriage in India

Urmila Chanam
Posted November 17, 2020 from India
In my wedding dress with my father moments before I walked down the aisle in an old fashioned Christian wedding
In my wedding dress with my father moments before I walked down the aisle in an old fashioned Christian wedding in India.

Conversion at the time for marriage is being banned in India. This move seems to have been sparked off after an advertisement from Tanishq jewelry projected a Hindu- Muslim intermarriage which was met with stiff resistance from several segments of the society in India which alleged that a Hindu woman was shown in a Muslim husband’s family (Hindu-Islam conversion) and questioned if the same permisibility existed for Muslim women's conversion to Hinduism or other faith after marriage (Islam- Hindu or other faith). Caste, community and different faith intermarriage came to spotlight as a subject for national debate following which Tanishq withdrew the advertisement and gave a public apology.

When women get married, they believe in the union of body, heart and mind and do all they can to integrate into the life of her husband. I studied the Bible and got baptised after marriage, it was not just about my faith but wanting to believe in one thing together as man and woman and learning that the beliefs resonated with me much deeper than anything else before. We do many other things in the journey of love to build that foundation. Even though my marriage didn't last and I returned to the society which is largely Hindu, I have remained a Christian and raised my child in the same faith. If conversion for or after marriage was only about power play, hidden agendas and demography, I would have jumped on the first opportunity to disown my current faith. By choosing to remain a Christian even after separation should open people's eyes on how conversions for marriage are spirituality and relationship related decisions. By believing otherwise, people are only discrediting the wisdom of women and interfering in her agency to build her relationship with her God and her man.

Women can decide for themselves who they want to marry and what faith they want to practice. A policy to curb her freedom of choice in something as major as relationship, marriage and faith should not be considered without consulting women from all walks of life. Also, the motive of this move has to be questioned and discussed because the states that have decided to adopt this policy also happen to be states with a history of gender inequality.

 

This story was submitted in response to Share On Any Topic.

Comments 7

Log in or register to post comments
Jill Langhus
Nov 18, 2020
Nov 18, 2020

Hello Urmila,

How are you doing, dear? Thanks for sharing this interesting challenge. I hear what you're saying, and agree, that women should be consulted before banning this practice. I love your wedding photo, by the way:-)

Hope you're well and having a good, safe week.

Urmila Chanam
Dec 02, 2020
Dec 02, 2020

Dearest sister Jill,
You know sister, when we look at this aspect of rights and freedom to choose a life partner irrespective of their faith in isolation people may fail to view it as a women's right issue and may get sidelined to believe its religious and political with one religion trying to outnumber the rest in numbers. We can assign this alarming trend to rubbish women's issue as a non-issue to patriarchal society. Hope sense prevails. I am doing well sister and you too take care of yourself.
Love and hugs,
Urmila Chanam,
India

Jill Langhus
Dec 03, 2020
Dec 03, 2020

Hello Urmila,

Yes, I can see that.

Great to hear. Thank you!

XX

Karen Quiñones-Axalan
Nov 18, 2020
Nov 18, 2020

Hello, Urmila,

It is my first time to see a bride wearing a pink wedding dress. I love your bouquet, too! What a lovely bride you are. I agree. Women should be given the power and the right to choose their faith. This is freedom of choice indeed. Thank you for raising your voice on this issue.

Urmila Chanam
Dec 02, 2020
Dec 02, 2020

Dearest sister,
You have made a great observation on the color of my wedding gown- baby pink. In the church I got married, a Baptist church, it is a norm that only virgin brides wear the white gown. In my case, I had three weddings- first was in the registration office under the Special Marriage Act, second was a Hindu custom wedding from my parent's side and third and last was a Christian wedding in the church spanning over few months. Hence, the pink gown.

Speaking about the blanket ban on faith based conversions at the time of marriage, few protests have emerged and lot of public debate is happening on why we should not have a law like that which takes away the right of freedom of choice from a woman. I hope sense prevails.

Thanks for reading my piece sister and leaving your comment.

Much love and hugs,
Urmila Chanam
India

Nini Mappo
Nov 19, 2020
Nov 19, 2020

Hello Urmila,
I have learnt something about the Indian society today. I find it concerning that religious conversion within a marriage should be a topic for public discussion requiring a public apology. I also find it interesting that conversion for/after marriage is also somewhat expected. But it's true that faith is a personal matter, and should remain so.

Urmila Chanam
Dec 02, 2020
Dec 02, 2020

Dearest sister Nini Mappo,
In Indian society, a girl after marriage resides in her husband's family house with his parents, siblings or even other senior citizens/relatives with only few exceptions of nuclear families. Traditionally, the norm is the wedded woman tries to adjust in the customs and traditions of the family. The pressure on her to convert her faith may be verbal, non-verbal or just perceived by her but it is ever present. Now in Christianity, "marry in the lord" means marriages are desirable when the life partner is a Christian so even in this faith, the non- Christian spouse converts because of the requirement of the Church. Couples can still get married without conversion but the Church will not facilitate it. In all, couples do try and convert to keep peace, integrate into the new family. Hope I could explain the complexities.

Much love and prayers,
Urmila Chanam