Inter Religious marriages.

I feel, Inter-faith marriages, where no religious conversion is involved, can undo a lot of the damage that Communalism and Patriarchal disapproval of Choice Marriages do to the society.  Do you agree? Then why is there such little information about the Special Marriage Act?

R. Nithya shared the link to her article – When Religious Identity Trumps Love in Building New Relationships

Before Zeba and Amit got into a romantic relationship, they had already been good friends for over a year; however, during that time, the idea of being in a romantic relationship with each other was always dismissed and cast aside as the religious divide seemed unbridgeable and the idea of ever being together as a married couple seemed an impossibility.


Since they were an inter-religious couple, they felt a court marriage was the way to go. So they consulted a lawyer to learn about court marriages. The lawyer, however, advised them against a court marriage by telling them that the process was long, complicated and fraught with bureaucratic hurdles. He instead suggested to opt for an easier route and get married at an Arya Samaj Mandir.

“If I had known then about the Special Marriage Act, or if the advocate had informed us about it, I would have married under that,” Zeba said.

The Special Marriage Act of 1954, unlike religious personal marriage laws, allows a person to marry without converting to his/her partner’s religion.

More links:

Supreme court has made it clear that a girl above 18 can marry or live with anyone of her choice.

Love Marriages spoil the Family System of our Nation.

What would you not change for love?

Marry Or Live With Anyone Of Your Choice.

Four kinds of marriages in modern India. Which ones would you ban?

Parents should choose the boy for a girl aged below 21, as it is they who bear the brunt of an unsuccessful marriage – Karnataka HC

Religion cannot be thrust upon a child or a spouse?

The Gujarat government has asked courts not to register marriages unless there’s parental consent in writing.[link]

The Aamir Khan Column: More honour in love


44 thoughts on “Inter Religious marriages.

    • What’s sad is that it is considered “special” for two people to get married without both being in the same religion. You’d think bringing religion into it was the exception. Oh well.


    • Two of our Brahim friends applied for special marriage act application along with their muslim boyfriends who were both brothers the court babus sat on the files for months and months it was their way to stall the efforts of muslim men of corrupting hindu women.
      When DG went to get an affidavit that she was married to so and so the lawyers who sat outside the court under the tree and carried his office in one briefcase told her she cannot have a different last name than her husband. The language of the affidavit demand we both have same last names. DG wanted to break his head and that Godforsaken now ex was quoting this idiot lawyer everywhere.
      Yes, the lawyers, judges and other functionaries of this system are all not only patriarchal but also represent majority community and operate from their personal interpretation of the secular rules.
      Desi Girl


  1. I really do not understand why at all there is a necessity for a “Special Marriage Act” or the “Hindu Marriage Act” or any other such Act that has special provisions based on religion. As far as the government is concerned, marriage is a legal contract, with legal implications such as right of survivorship, ease of application for visas, taxes, etc. What has any of it got to do with religion? Irrespective of how you get married, you should always have to take a legal document from the government to validate your status that does not depend on any ceremonies or the lack of it.

    That said, I do believe that inter-religious marriages will bring progress because such marriages by definition are not traditional, and hence it is probable that the non-traditionality will reflect in other aspects of marriage too – like spouse equality, secular child rearing. It is also a good reminder that no matter what traditions or religions we choose to follow, we are all human beings that have more in common than being different from each other.


  2. If I were to marry, I wouldn’t dream of marrying under the Special Marriage Act 1955. If there were no other option available, I’d simply opt for a live-in relationship.
    The SPA 1955, inherits from the Hindu Marriage Act 1955, along with fault based provisions for divorce, which is a bureaucratic nightmare if the marriage starts to go sour. For both men and women, but especially for men since the SPA is even more regressive than than the HMA, when it comes to maintenance and alimony provisions.


  3. In my opinion, these marriages can work only when :

    1) Neither partner is really “religious” in his / her lifestyle. Their religion merely gives them a group identity which they don’t want to let go of. They don’t really formally practice their faith.
    They can marry under the Special Marriage Act.

    2)The partners are either practicing Hindus, Christians, Jains, Budhists who agree before hand that neither seeks the other partner’s conversion and also agree to expose the children to both faiths and leave it to the children to choose either religion, or remain “irreligious” when they become adults.

    3)Both are atheists and don’t practice any faith. Their marriage is hardly an inter religious marriage.

    But, if one partner is a Muslim, (a practicing Muslim, I mean) will his faith allow him to marry a non Muslim, unless the other partner agrees to convert? Even celebrities have converted (sometimes just to get recognition for the marriage among the Muslim partner’s relatives and family), and for succession rights to property, though they may not formally practice the faith after the marriage.

    I wonder if the Parsi and Jewish community will recognize the marriage if one partner is from outside their fold? Among Parsis, even conversion of the Non Parsi will not be acceptable (Please correct me if I am wrong here)

    Such marriages can work if the couple is prepared to go it alone in society and are non-religious in their outlook.

    Inter religious marriages, when both partners are sincere in their respective faiths, is an uphill struggle for both. If they maintain contact with their parents and relatives after the marriage, the problems are likely to get compounded. Of course there may be exceptions but these will be rare.

    I, personally, in my time would not have married anyone who was not a Hindu (of any caste or linguistic group, or even nationality). I would only be willing to be a close friend of any person, of any religion or nationality.

    I won’t attempt to advise others, even if they ask me.


    • I have seen marriages happening under SMA, and have also seen the guy and his family forcing the girl later to convert. One case was such where the girl(hindu) and her family got them married in the house with a registrar present. The guy(you will all guess who)’s family broke relations. Then the girl got pregnant and the guy’s mom wanted him back. The guy started getting pangs. But they would accept her only of she became a practicing one. So to avoid a divorce, she did it. The guy’s family never visits the girl’s although the girl’s do. When the granddaughter comes over, aunty doesnt do pooja so that she doesn’t get confused and doesnt want her visits to stop. So what do we say here?


      • I would say interfaith relationships are complicated. I would say, it would be brilliant if people put faith in their children/family and their choice of spouses and treated them like human versus like aliens.
        And I would also ask, how much is this really different than a mil asking her dil to stop wearing certain clothes or stop working or stop visiting their parents that happen in socially sanctioned arranged marriages or same faith choice marriages?


        • Hmm… I feel, this is a way bigger issue than not letting a dil wear jeans… This is one issue where i would actually divorce my husband… Its my opinion, absolutely mine….


        • I have a sister who married a Christain 2 kids they divorced. the children are so confused, the daughter loves all Hindu rituals, likes prayers, clothing etc but pressure from her dad and grandparents stop her.
          KIds really get confused in inter religious marriages, they get exposed to both relgions…. sad eh…


        • @lakshmi – I respectfully disagree. I think it really depends on the parents asking the child to choose one or the other – that is where problems arise. If parents were open to everything and did not force their child/pressure them to choose then there would be no confusion or guilt. Faith is faith, god’s message is the same in every religion no matter what they practice.


        • @Lakshmi, it’s quite normal in India for Hindu kids to go to catholic schools (I did) and no one worries about how the kids get confused. Some of my hindu school friends wore a cross or liked visiting churches.. and it was no big deal. To me, there is nothing sad about this.

          In fact, it’s good that kids understand there are choices and develop their own thinking.. rather than being born in one religion, only ever learning about that and never exploring their own views beyond it.


      • The problem here is to do with how unequal marriages tend to be for women than to do with the interfaith factor. The interfaitth factor only heightens everyone’s fears and insecurities rather than causing them.


        • This. Our extreme concern about the woman’s subjugation or troubles in an inter-caste or inter-faith marriage highlights what everyone knows.. that marriages, in their current form, are unequal.


      • Replying to your comment down this thread.
        Why are we not appalled to the same degree when a mil forces a dil (born into the same religion however who is agnostic/atheist) to carry out religious rituals she does not want to?
        And freedom of choice is freedom of choice – whether it be what I wear, what I eat, what religious beliefs I want to align myself with.


    • I am at loss to understand how a person who holds religion at prime importance in his/her life falls in love with a person from a different religion ( which the first religion explicitly forbids) and then tries to emotionally blackmail the other person to convert!

      And I will never understand why government allows different succession rights for different religions under these ‘Acts’. Succession rights should be based only on court issued legal documents or by establishing biological relationship.


      • that is why UCC ( Union Civil Code) should come into force… You cant have different rules for people of different religion.. Indian laws enacted in light of religion is going to be subjunctive to Women as all religions tend to be Patriarchal.


    • I would think if people actually believed that they should not marry out of religion, they would not go out and procure themselves a spouse who is unacceptable to them.


    • 2 close friends of mine were married and one was a christian, they were married amidst drama and much more, were together for many many yrs and then got married and after about 8 yrd of marriage one of them cheated ( dont know the exact deal) , and the the other found out and hence the accused one committed suicide. All the families and their dog blamed the inter-religious marriage for this mess, so i still shout myself hoarse that this has nothing to do with religion, one partner lost interest – simple. and yes i would have got a divorce first but hey we all make bad choices and in my opinion it was a case of cowardly behavior, easy way out of one’s problems. but then who listens, they are held up as an example of not to have an inter-religious marriage while in front of all families the various arranged horoscope matched marriages are crumbling like dust 🙂 huh idiots.
      I’d rather my kids marry whom they love and are happy with irrespective of religion,color, nationality. If after 10 yrs you fall out of love, you fall out of love. such is life.


  4. Hi, any marriage conducted through religious ceremony can still be registered under the Special Marriage Act. Check the local body website for details, for example the MCD in Delhi. You need two proofs of marriage like the mandir certificate, marriage invite, wedding photos for example, passport photos of each of you, two witnesses and maybe address and id proof. Not a complicated procedure but takes time due to administration efficiency. We have done it ourselves several years ago so takes patience but gets done.


    • NO NO NO!!!!!!!!!
      Try marrying a Kashmiri. Special Marriage Act does not apply.
      I have never gone through anything so ridiculous in my life.
      Had I known getting married to a Kashmiri in India was such an arduous & assinine process I would have taken him to Las Vegas & had the usual American ‘civil ceremony’ before a judge.


  5. Will inter-religious marriages (w/o conversion) undo communalism? Not sure. I think for communalism to go away, we have to stop being so religious. I’m born Hindu and yes we do celebrate some of the non-offensive festivals but I think I’m agnostic at heart. Deeply religious people make me uncomfortable. Relying on a holy book – written 1000s of years ago, one that hasn’t been updated to reflect current times and fit current needs, one that doesn’t recognize that the world has come a long way in recognizing human rights, oh and the author is unknown/unverifiable, interpreted by people claiming to be scholars but are not open to any kind of discussion – relying on such a book is to me a scary notion. So, I don’t really think these marriages will help fight communalism. What will bring down communalism is rational thought and a strong belief in the inalienable rights of every human being. For that, we need, not religion or religious heads, but common sense and a a good law and order system.


  6. Interfaith marriages where no religious conversion takes place can undo a lot of damage of communalism and patriarchal disapproval.
    For whom? For that particular couple? I am not too sure.
    I think it was very poor form of the lawyer not to tell zeba all her options. However, I have come to realise most people have an agenda even when it comes to other people’s wedding/marriage. People seem to have a very specific idea of what a wedding should be about, what a marriage should be about.


  7. I think people assume inter-faith marriages are this big complicated thing – it is, only if you make it. My husband is a hindu (tamil iyengar) and I am Catholic. Hubby is a strict vegetarian and I am not. We do both of everything, we celebrate Christmas and Diwali. God is god.
    We have been together for 8 years and have never had a single fight about it.


    • Agree with this. It is complicated if you make it complicated. If you respect your partner and their belief and don’t force each other to follow “your way”, I don’t see what’s the problem.

      Not only inter religious, I support cross national/cultural/racial marriages. Time, we got over our differences. I feel more Indian women should go out their race to marry. Patriarchal men have no incentive to change because there is more pressure on the women to get a guy and that too with minimal effort. Doing this would make them improve for sure 🙂 Break the cycle!

      I am not aware of the different marriage acts in indian constitution but now i do not see a need for different acts for different religions. Marriage is something legal. As long as they hae a govt. certificate & way of tracking, why do they need so many marriage acts? Cut down on the constitution and acts and be effective on the few acts that we have.


  8. I never understood what is the use of Religion in all Govt Forms …Also whats the problem with a No Religion status ? If everyone has problems at least those people with No Religion staus will get uniform civil code.


    • firstly,religion should not be given importance legally…….no where government should mention or ask for religion…..and even in schools religion of a child should not be made compulsory……as they usually mention while taking admissions as well as in leaving certificate………no minority no superior religions……then only the competition among people of different religion will stop…..this will help the couples of interfaith marriage to bring up their children without religious barriers or conversions…….


  9. This is all about allowing people to be individuals and not conform to a system of hierarchy. If we simply let each other be, rather than expecting the woman (or man) to ‘adjust’ into the other’s ‘culture’, this is not a complicated issue. If we don’t let each other be, then simple differences like diets can become a tool of oppression even when marrying in the same religion.

    I agree that that communalism and patriarchy will be death a huge blow by inter-religious and even inter-caste marriages. The oppressive caste system will simply break down if inter-caste marriages become the norm. Also I think if inter-religious marriages take off in a huge way (without pressure on the woman or man to convert), religious extremism and fundamentalism will become less prevalent. All good things, if you ask me. 🙂


  10. To me god is god, As long as you stick to your beliefs and let him/her stick to their choice i don’t see any issues. What i dont get are the idiots who fall in love and go after someone of a different religion but after marriage cannot tolerate that , if you want to change your partner then he/she is not the one for you . simple.

    As for parents opposing inter-religious marriage , they need to learn not to force their ideas on other adults ( even their kids) , But it’s mostly i feel the fact that you didnt ask them to pick your spouse, their fear of looking bad in societies eyes that makes them disapprove, and indian parents are conditioned to expect 100% obedience from a child, the great indian ponzi scheme and the older is smarter logic in play . 🙂


    • DG was married to one such idiot who along with his parents brought examples and proofs, look so and so started following her husband’s rituals after marriage. We are not asking you to convert just don’t practice your faith in our house.


  11. May be the sucession acts will make more sense if the history of how they came in effect were discussed. May be they were necessary to keep the country together at the time of independence.

    Marriage to Kashmiri is a different ball game. Kashmir is treated as a very special part of India with its own restrictions. Forget marriage , one should look into how to buy a house in Kashmir. you can’t understand why it is different without understanding how kashmir was incorporated in india


  12. I think inter caste and race marriage is a good thing as long as people understand each other. After all, it’s our lives and it’s up to us to decide what’s good and not society. I am in favor of cross cultural marriages and it’s high time to stop this racist drama.


  13. Interfaith marriages are only complicated if:

    a) other family members interfere with the marriage at any time.
    b) if both/1 of the marriage partners are strong believers in their faith and do not all exercise a higher, tolerant approach of daily practice of their faith.
    c) if the couple lives with 1 of their parents.


  14. Good topic! My husband is Hindu and I’m Chinese christian and we’re both Canadians happily married. We had to elope because his family refused to let us marry and never had the wedding we wanted but it’s all good as most of our friends are in interracial and Interfaith marriages and had spectacular weddings celebrating their backgrounds! We never had issues with our faiths and celebrate everything as well with our kids! Yes I have pressure from his side to convert and become vegetarian but my husband has protected me from all the drama for many years now and does not want me to change one bit. Our kids will grow up obtaining the best of our worlds and will allow them total freedom to practice and marry whomever they want. What more can a parent ask for if their adult children are in joy filled marriages? It all comes down to loving and respecting one another’s choices really.


  15. Pingback: Is it possible that the ones whose disapproval is dreaded the most are those who are most likely to express disapproval (and occasional approval)? | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

  16. I am a Hindu and my husband is christian. We go to temples and churches. We got married in Hindu way In India with the support of our entire family and Christian way in US without converting. We have Hindu Gods and Jesus and Mother Mary in our pooja room along with Shirdi Sai. Kids love to go to temple and church. But my friend had to convert to christianity for getting married to his christian girl friend in India and he don’t believe in God. I think India’s curse is too many religion and caste and subcaste which causes communal riots eventhough scientifically there are progress.


  17. my fiance is a hindu and i am a catholic. he is expecting me to do marriage in christian and hindu types. i am more interested in christian wedding ly and he is angry for i told i am not interested in hindu marriage. what am i supposed to do.


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