By Syed Ali Mujtaba
Interfaith marriage between medical doctor couples has been stopped by Hindutva activists in Mangaluru, in Dakshina Kannada, Karnataka.
The bride Dr. Megha, aged 23 is a medical surgeon and belongs to a Hindu family and the groom is Dr. Jafar, of the same age and comes from Kannur, Kerala. The two were classmates and in a relationship.
Dr. Megha convinced her parents about Dr. Jafar and her family met the boy’s family and was happy about their well-being, cultured, and well-mannered status. The girl’s family also met the boy and found him to be very decent and well behaved. The girl’s parents had no issue with the religious differences and consented to their only daughter’s marriage.
Dr. Megha’s father Mohan is reported to have said; “The boy’s parents are good people. They have no issue with religion. They have clearly stated that our daughter need not convert and can follow her religion.”
The wedding invitation was distributed for November 29, 2021, and the marriage ceremony was to be held at the ‘Arabian Beach Resort’ at Payambalam, Kannur, Kerala.
This is when the Hindu religious activities became active opposing this marriage. Some pro-Hindu activists tried convincing the girl’s family, not to marry their “educated daughter” into a Muslim family. The broad-minded parents brushed such ideas aside and wanted to proceed with the interfaith matrimonial ties.
After that several “pro-Hindu leaders” warned the girl’s family to opt out of the wedding and failed to convince the bride’s family, the controversial seer, Sri Rajashekharananda Swamiji, of Sri Vajradehi Mutt visited Dr. Megha’s home and spoke to her parents.
Sri Rajashekharananda Swamiji of Vajradehi Mutt in Mangaluru is known for his Hindutva speeches and “Ghar Wapsi” of Christian families. His firebrand speeches against Muslims and Christians have great appeal among the young and he is much respected among saffron outfit leaders and Bajrang Dal workers.
In the context of interfaith marriage, the media reported that “the seer to the parents and explained to them in detail about the problems that the girl may face in a post-marriage situation to which the girl’s family is believed to be convinced.”
As reported it appears that the parents in order to ward off the seer agreed to his advice but they are incomplete support of their daughter’s decision. The wedding is now being postponed and not called off. The families have decided to conduct the wedding on a later date and are waiting for this storm to blow over.
Analyzing this situation it can be said that one of the templates of the BJP rule is to go for a full-throttled campaign against Hindu- Muslim marriages. Many ‘Love Vigilantes’ have emerged in the BJP ruled states to stop inter-religious marriages.
Women groups have resisted such moves, arguing that under the BJP rule women are being infantilized in the country and being placed under parental and community control. The new diktat from the ‘Love Vigilantes’ is women can no more get protection from society or the state and it is the duty of the family to address such issues.
In other words, women have no right to make reasoned decisions about their lives and their future. Some women group has questioned the protectors of the community asking; if women are allowed to choose a government, why they are stopped from choosing their husbands?
The propaganda against interfaith marriage is due to the BJP’s ideological discriminatory perception about women’s freedom and their way of life in Hindu society. Their guidance comes from ‘Manusmriti,’ a treatise having misogynist in ideas.
In a country of 1.3 billion, where large numbers of women are studying, and pursuing careers, and moving to cities for work, such regressive ideas and practices are an assault on their independent status. Further, the curbing of interfaith marriage is against the tenets of the constitution that encourages egalitarian society that’s above caste and religion and grants, women her freedom to lead a life with dignity.
The BJP government is giving direct patronage to the orthodox, misogynist, and conservative forces of Hindu society. Their ideas are rooted in the ideology of Manusmriti’ which denies women their right to preserve their independent identity. Such forces want to undo the gains Indian women have achieved through their long struggle and they have been able to get it enshrined in the constitution of India.
The ‘Manuwadi’ thinking about women has dangerous consequences on Indian society. It pushes women into the dark ages of patriarchal traditions. These ideas are blocking the progress of the women in their aspirations and dreams which are quite different from the Hindutva worldview.
This is a battle is between progressive forces and those having ‘Manuwadi’ ideas about women. The irony is the state government has shown no intention to keep such regressive forces on a leash and such conspiracy of silence has emboldened the Hindutva forces that are flaunting their agenda against women in India.
Here, it needs to be mentioned; in states like Tamil Nadu, a new culture is developing with regard to accepting interfaith marriages. Normally, such marriages are first registered and the couple signs the register in front of the Registrar. Following that invitation card is circulated among near and dear ones for the wedding reception party and everything happens peacefully and in a consensual environment.
This change in attitude has become a societal norm in some southern states of India but the irony is such progressive ideas are now being torn apart by some regressive forces who have become now become the custodian of society. This is Post- Truth India and the brand new republic.
Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. His forthcoming book Post- Truth India-The Brand New Republic is awaiting publication. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.