The hashtag – #BoycottTanishq, on an advertisement released by a famous jewellery brand, has led to a debate on the present state of interfaith marriages in our country.
Before we try and understand what influences the acceptability of interfaith marriages, it would be beneficial to know some legal provision related to it. Article 21 of the Indian constitution, gives us the fundamental right to life and personal liberty. Under the same article, every citizen of our country has the right to marry a person of his/her own choice. The legal provision of Special Marriages Act, 1957, facilitates the interfaith marriages in our country.
The acceptance of Interfaith marriages is a societal process, as the society progresses the acceptability of interfaith marriage increases. There are some general trends related to acceptance of interfaith marriages, which may be accepted by most of us.
First, in my opinion, the tendency to support interfaith marriages increase with the level of education. As holistic education imparts liberal thinking and raises the acceptance level of interfaith marriages.
Second, I think in some cases, the economic situation also increases the acceptance of interfaith marriages, wherein our society, which is still dominantly patriarchal, the acceptance of economically well-placed groom will not be a barrier.
The above two factors easily support the general trend of interfaith marriages being more common in urban areas than in rural areas. Third, the socio-political factor also plays a role, where the direct and indirect pressure from the peers of one’s caste/religion/affiliations restrict the ability of an individual to accept an interfaith marriage. Indeed, the third factor is the most prominent and overrides the above two factors.
A Fourth factor, which is worth pointing out, is the need for conversion to other religion for marriage, also inhibits a family to accept an interfaith marriage.
The acceptance of interfaith marriages will definitely increase with the increase in the level of education, as it will influence the first, second and third factor. For the fourth factor, it is worth mentioning that in a judgement in 2017, the Supreme Court stated that there is no legal provision of conversion of religion on marriage, and a person is free to profess the religion he/she wishes, irrespective in which religion he/she married.
Also, it will also be agreed by most of us, that and open society with liberal thinking are the ones which are the most developed and have a better standard of living. And yes, interfaith marriage is not a necessary condition for the path towards more development and a higher standard of living. But it will also not be wrong to say that opposing the interfaith marriages on one pretext or the other, is definitely a degenerative, regressive and illiberal view. The reasons for this trend are pretty obvious.