The bride converted to Islam

Hindu womans conversion and marriage to Muslim man in Karnataka exposes the dark side of Indians
Voices Religion Monday, April 18, 2016 - 14:54

A Hindu-Muslim wedding was solemnised on Sunday in Mysuru according to Islamic tradition. The Hindu bride converted to Islam, the parents of the couple blessed them and under normal circumstances the celebrations should have gone unnoticed. It was a private affair.

On a good day, everything is everybody’s business in India. Advice is free and in some cases violence is willingly provoked. For many people in Mandya, the town where the couple comes from, this was not a good day.  The bride, according to them, was committing a grave error, so it was society’s responsibility to knock some sense into her and her parents. The father of the lady was spoken to. Processions were taken out in the town, bands called for and tyres were burnt amply suggesting that agent provocateurs were at work. The marriage took place in Mysuru under police protection. What next? What next is the question all of us must ask because either by omission or commission, we are all party to a dangerous slide towards premeditated violence in our society?

The News Minute was lambasted for reporting on the turmoil in the town. In particular, people took exception to our reports that a local Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader had advised the parents against allowing their daughter to take this step. Once the vulgar and ugly comments passed – most are unprintable – and it was clear to all that the marriage will proceed as planned, came the judgment cloaked as knowledge and wisdom.

We are past masters in judging others. This time the narrative went something like this. The bride will soon wear a burka, mother multiple babies, live a life in captivity and realise that she has no legal recourse because of the absence of a uniform civil code. She will be subjected to Sharia laws. One person went to the extent of saying her head would be found somewhere soon.

There was more. Many suggested the couple should have opted for a civil marriage so there was no conversion. In other words, why was a mutual respect marriage not acceptable to the Muslim family? It is a matter of no small irony that people who cannot respect choices made by other people lecture the world on mutual respect.

The running commentary over the Mandya - Mysuru marriage shows us up as inquisitive and aggressive peeping toms, keen to raise doubt and division where none exist. They also show the nervousness and violence that solemn occasion like a marriage can provoke if it is beyond the comprehension of local townspeople. The discomfort Indians have with people choosing their life partners is palpable. Love is taboo if it doesn’t fit. Not too long ago, a Dalit man was hacked to death in the middle of Pollachi town near Coimbatore as his new bride pleaded for help. Their sin against society was that they had fallen in love and married.

India cannot afford to alienate its Muslims either by making a mockery of their practices or pitting one Muslim against another. To do so would be to play with fire. Reports of ISIS cells across the country worry Hindus as well as Muslims. Neither can India take its Hindus for granted most of whom, like India’s Muslims and people of other faith, shun violence. Navigating between alienation, responsibility and ownership is not easy, but among the religions in the world, Hinduism is very qualified to do what it has done best for centuries – accommodate, change, grow, question, teach and debate.

India’s hope is not its politicians. We the people must seize the opportunity whenever and wherever we can to quell fears and demolish doubt. Pushing people into a corner by finding fault with them is not the way to go. The Mandya couple should have been left in peace.

PS. India’s dream girl and BJP lawmaker Hema Malini married Dharmendra who remains married to his first wife. In order to remain ‘lawful’ and not be bigamous, he converted to Islam for a bit. They harmed Islam and Hinduism. 

Correction: The headline of this article was previously 'The inter-faith marriage in Karnataka exposes the dark side of Indians' which was erroneous. TNM regrets the error. However, the text of the article clearly stated that the bride had converted to Islam before the wedding. The headline has been corrected.  We thank readers for pointing out the error.

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