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Friday, April 22, 2011

Offbeat Marriage Site

Our friend, Mrs. 4B, had a great interview in a website about "challenging" marriages (i.e., those that are inter-faith, inter-cultural, inter-ability, etc.) I was happy that the site also rightfully pointed out that really any two people from different families are coming from at least subtly different cultures.

Here is Mrs. 4B's interview.

My favorite highlights:

"In retrospect, we look at the wedding as a hurdle we had to jump over. When people ask us about the wedding, we often say that since our marriage survived that wedding, we will be able to get through anything."
"We both have our superstitions and little rituals that make us comfortable, whether it’s my saint medals or the Ganesh idol on our dashboard. Those tend to be the things that show up on a daily basis."
"One man openly mocked our marriage and basically called Mr. 4B a race-traitor. Because of social rules about politeness to older people, especially men, we were required to just sit there and take it, even though we were seething."
"I think that a lot of the comments I get from her [mother-in-law] as wells as from my husband’s aunts and uncles comes from a deep insecurity about themselves. They are so insecure that they need validation at every level to prove that Maharashtrian culture is better than any other. There are several 'lecture uncles' that I can count on to give me a speech about the superiority of Maharastra or India on any subject from food to women’s rights to dogs. Ever since an uncle got mad at me, in all seriousness, for teaching Chini her commands in English instead of Marathi, I’ve realized how ridiculously insecure he was."
"I think that we have both had to become secure and confident in our own beliefs and values. If we both came out of the same culture, we might just do certain things without questioning their value or understanding why we were doing them. When we have a choice between two ways of doing things, we get to make a choice about what works best for us."
"Don’t give into the idea that respecting your spouse’s parents or culture means letting them call all the shots or have their way every time. Your partner fell in love with YOU, not a version of you that tries to live up to his parents’ ideas."

I like this website, I think it's a great idea. I am rather disturbed, though, by the woman who runs it and her inconsistent goal.

On the front, the website seems to have the agenda of supporting people in having unified marriages despite coming from very different backgrounds. Once I started to read more, though, there were many posts whose agenda was to push a Biblical idea of what a good marriage is (and what a good wife is).

The creator of the site is a 7th Day Advantist and instead of letting that be the colorful background of her story of inter-faith marriage and its challenges, she uses Bible quotes to tell us that open marriages are bad and that Evolution is just a theory that shouldn't be taught in schools. (Not that I would want an open marriage, but I fully support people who choose to do that. I can't know what works best and makes the most sense for everyone).

I hope that the site will grow more towards showcasing many different couples and how they make inter-something marriages of all kinds work.

I just went back over there and my comments on a couple posts that she seemed to be proselytizing her views rather than giving an honest discussion of offbeat marriages were erased and she added this:

"P.S. Some of my writings and advice are influenced by my Christian point of view. I hope you still find them helpful even if you aren’t a Christian and pick up the ones that can possibly be applied to you."

I thought I made good and rational comments, particularly on her post about whether to raise her children believing in Creationism as she does or in Evolution as her husband does. Rather than actually create a plan for what they will teach their children, she just spends the whole post talking about why she's right. Doesn't seem like good advice for a fair marriage to me...

But I also don't want to be mean to her, as it does seem like her heart is in the right place and she's working on building something wonderful and valuable.


  1. Hence, they call it "religious indoctrination".

    The problem is the religion's view of "arguments" as the prime cause of "blasphemy". Because it is "written" in the "bible", it "must" be true. You cannot "argue" on it any further.

    This is an important case of "maya" only that restricts us from understanding the real world.

  2. I've had this problem many times because I don't see the Bible as a source of absolute knowledge. I end up having very circular arguments with people, i.e., "It says ___ in the Bible." "So? It says ____ in the Gita." Not much basis for a rational and engaging discussion where we could actually learn anything :(

  3. Both of your comments are so true.<3

  4. Saying that it says "so and so" in "this book" is not a substantiation for any claims. Just like one does with wikipedia, you track the sentences down to their "references", like a "source" from a reputed wire service.

    How can anyone do the same with these religious texts - bible or gita?

    That's why(in hinduism), the gita is not the final word. We've been given all these study materials(shruti, smriti, tarkam etc) to figure out things by ourselves. To do that, one needs to argue with oneself. And nothing is certain; one hindu's belief can be challenged by other hindu's.

    Pinning the bible against the gita or vice versa is not an argument but a clash of ego's between two dogmas.

    The catholics cannot argue beyond dogmas and there's a reason for that. One example for such behaviour comes from the story of adam and eve, who were put on earth by god as "innocents". They were specifically instructed by god to abstain from engaging in any open discussions or arguments to figure things out(here, "argument" is seen as a synonym to "immoral" behaviour). Adam and eve are tempted by curiosity(serpent aka satan) and hence, end up disobeying god.

    Man's disobedience of god's command ends with a terrible curse and god's son volunteers to become the sacrificial lamb.

    So for catholic's, to engage in a blasphemous argument can be equivalent to adam and eve's disobedience of god's command.

    The hindus can move past the scriptures to reach a logical end in an argument though the catholics cannot do that because then the substantiation is not through christianity and hence etc etc.

    Monotheists do not like their beliefs to be challenged. It can dislodge their belief in faith completely and can affect their whole lives. A hindu should avoid arguments with these individuals primarily because their arguments are limited within the confines of their scriptures while a hindu's aren't. So it's better to withdraw oneself with a random excuse instead of catching them with something totally off guard.

    Sometimes being adharmic in the short term serves dharma in the long term and sometimes insisting on being dharmic in the short term implies serving adharma in the long run.

  5. I am really glad that there is not a final source of written authority in Hinduism. I think it is a lot more open to growth because of that.

  6. Fertility Rituals

    Marriage is one of the biggest fertility rituals Known in Indian culture. When two people get married. they are said to enter grihasta ashram where they are expected to bear children. satify their sexual urge, earn money and follow religious practices. Hindu marriages profess the idea of coming together of the energies and paving way to a new creation.

    Offering of Grains

    Throughout India, one thing that remains common to all communities is offring of grains in wedding ceremony. Mostly rice, puffed rice or whole grains, these grains are fed to the sacred fire in different ceremonies.

    Importance of Shiva's Bael leaves

    Holy Bael leaves are proffered in several ceremonies before the wedding and after it. In many communities in india, before the wedding day arrives, Bael leaves are placed in earthen pots which are topped with different kinds of cereals. After the wedding, the sprouted seedlings are then released in a flowing river or a pool. This ritual is performed to invoke blessings of Lord Shiva upon the married couple and pray for their progeny.

    Vishnu's pious Lotus

    As per mythology, at the time of creation of the universe, while lord Vishnu was pondering over the creation of mankind, a pious lotus rose out of his navel. On that lotus was seated Lord Brahma who paved way to the creation and illumination of the universe. Thus, lotus remains symbolic of procreation, birth and fertility. It is Therefore, offered during wedding puja to the gods to confer potency upon the couple. Also, At the time of a Hindu wedding, the bride and the groom are given the stature of Goddess Lakshmi and Lord Vishnu because they represent the eternal companionship and exemplify how a relationship between husband and wife should be.

    Nose ring

    Usually seen as a piece of accessory, almost all brides sport nose ring on their wedding day. In some communities, girls are told to get their nose pierced before they tie the knot.

    Sacred coconut rituals

    Across India, since time immemorial coconut has enjoyed its association with human fertility in a sacrosanct manner. In Gujarat, there is a ritual of bride presenting a coconut in a customary way to the groom at the time of the marriage. Here coconut is symbolic of the progency of the couple that the bridegifts the groom. Of all the fruits, coconut is most closely related to human skull because of the three marking on its base that resemble human facial features.

    The mantras of virility

    During saat pheras in a Hindu marriage, there are several mantras that are chanted for progency of the couple. While the first phera is for a long lasting companionship, in the second Phera, "Kutumburn rakshayishyammi sa aravindharam", the bride promises the groom that she will fill his with love and will bear children of him.

    The History

    There was a time when potency was considered as the be all and all of all activities. The earliest ritual of fertility among Hindus can be dated back to the Harappan civilization where it has been discovered that people worshipped clay figurines of a mother goddess who represented fertility. Several phallic symbols representing gods in sitting position wearing bull's horns (Bull being a universal symbol of male potency) have also been found at the sites of indus Valley Civilization. As the world evolved and ancient civilizations paved way to the modern societies, marriage started being considered as a mandatory ceremony before women could conceive. Also, the idea of marriage was propelled by the thought of having the family legacy move ahead; so that families could get heirs.