Interfaith Marriages

Even in the US, it’s a roller coaster for interfaith marriages

AHMEDABAD: The clamour over ‘love jihad’ grows louder before every Valentine’s Day. However, the apprehension about interfaith marriage is not just an Indian reflex but also an equally big challenge in countries such as the US. Dilip Amin, a native of Gujarat who is settled in the US for the past four decades, has established an online forumdedicated to addressing concerns of interfaith marriages. Amin has recently published a book recounting the experiences of 81 real-life love stories covering Hindu, Christian, Muslim, Sikh, Jain, and Parsi youth primarily in the US and India.

“My survey in 2008 among the US-born secondgeneration Hindus, Jains, and Sikhs showed that of 910 marriages under purview, 38% had partners belonging to Abrahamic religions (Christianity, Islam and Judaism),” said Amin, a cancer researcher in San Francisco.

Personal experiences motivated Amin to study interfaith marriages and to interact with over 1,200 individuals over 12 years. “The opposition to interfaith relationships can be based on political agenda. That doesn’t help young people or their parents take an educated decision,” he said. “On the basis of my interactions, the most asked questions include the need for conversion, following the partner’s belief, and deciding on children’s faith.” He said that a number of observations also apply to Indian cases.

‘Partners should not impose their beliefs How do the couples find equilibrium? Amin said that he always tells the couples to discuss the matters of belief beforehand. “Problems only get bigger after marriage if they are swept under the carpet,” he said. “Such unions are challenging but also beautiful because they connect people with humanity. The partners should not impose their beliefs. Instead of a melting pot, the relationship should be like a salad bowl where the ingredients maintain their characteristics.” He said that the same principles apply to inter-caste marriages. Amin said that one of the users shared the best advice he can offer: it doesn’t matter if a partner is from a different faith; all couples need is to have faith in each other.

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