Meera Verses Margaret

Meera Verses Margaret: Why Discriminate Against Your Own?

Interfaith marriages have many issues, but within-faith marriages are not without their own issues either. The within-faith divorce rates and the gravity of problems are not less. Some of the root causes of within-faith marriages are unusually high expectations, ingrained social customs, discrimination against women in the Eastern (and Middle-Eastern) cultures, and, a paradoxical human nature to discriminate against their own type. It is time for an attitude change for the people from the Eastern cultures. In this article, some of the main issues related to within-faith marriage in people from the Eastern cultures are highlighted using hypothetical names, Meera and Margaret.

A new fiancé, Meera, may be expected at the first visit to help the mother-in-law-to-be in the kitchen frying samosas (Indian dumplings) while the same Indian mother-in-law-to-be will be joyous if Margaret just eats the samosas she has fried for her. Further, any gift from Meera’s parents will not be sufficient to please the boy’s parents, while the same parents will gladly buy many Indian costumes for Margaret and her entire family at their own expense.

In Eastern cultures, women have traditionally been housewives and expected to be responsible for household chores, and, to maintain social relationships. In this day and age, educated and new generation Eastern women are expected to take on additional responsibilities such as earning for the family. Unfortunately, some Eastern men and their families have not fully adapted to the reality of this social change. Meera may work outside the home but when she returns home after work, she is expected to carry out all household chores, including taking care of children and cooking; while her husband may decide to help where he feels appropriate or just relax. The same Eastern man, if married to Margaret, will gladly take over most house-hold chores including cleaning dishes.

Eastern parents are not used to seeing men working in kitchen or folding cloths after laundry. When Eastern parents visit their son in the West, normally they wish to relax during their vacation. However, as soon as they see their son going into the kitchen to help Meera, the parents will immediately intervene and offer to take over their son’s chores, not Meera’s. The same Eastern parents do not realize that they will never have a chance of living with Margaret for a month or even a few days.

We know a case where a Hindu-American girl married to a Pakistani after religious conversion to Islam; the (former) Hindu is treated like a queen when she visits Pakistan. Contrary to that, her Muslim sister-in-law from Pakistan ends up getting rude treatment from the same Muslim in-laws, in spite of her doing all home chores all day. These Pakistani parents do not realize that the (former) Hindu daughter-in-law, in her mind, underwent a fake-conversion ceremony (Shahadah oath) necessary for the Islamic Nikaah wedding. Further, the Pakistani parents are still unaware today that this couple also had a Hindu wedding ceremony (prohibited in Islam) and their Hindu daughter-in-law is performing Ganesh pooja every day in America.

When there is a within-faith marriage, parents expect to maintain traditions coming from generations. For example, Bangla Desi Raquib’s Muslim-Muslim engagement is in trouble because of the expectations that he purchase certain gifts (clothes) of sufficient value for his wife’s parents in Pakistan. The dowry system is still prevalent in the East, however dowry will not come even in a dream of parents if the engagement is to Margaret.

It is normal to micro-analyze potential fiancé when it is within-faith marriage. For example, a Patel-Hindu contemplating marriage to another Patel-Hindu has to answer if the selected Patel is Kadva or Leuva Patel and whether they are Swaminarayan, Shaivites or Vaishnav. However, the same parents will not know Margaret any more than some German-French.

During the engagement process, the within-faith fiancée undergoes strict scrutiny and background checks. If there were some un-authenticated information that Meera was fluttering with boys in college, it could become a big moral issue. It is a common practice in the Muslim community to display bloody bed sheet after the honeymoon night as proof of the bride’s virginity; and if the new bride does not come through, it could be a grounds for divorce on the first day. Contrary to that, no one will ever dare to find out about how many boys Margaret has slept with prior to engagement.

Most Eastern boys and girls in Western colleges probably purposely date friends from a different faith. One of the main reasons is that in the early 20-s, the within-faith dating may soon escalate to marriage talk that they have no interest in. Further, Muslims and Hindu girls will not consider sleeping with a boy friend of their own faith due to social stigma; however, these girls may be less reluctant with a boyfriend from another faith. Likewise, an Eastern boy may start dating Margaret just for romantic times and may end up marrying her.

Due to the issues mentioned above, should Eastern boys and girls consider interfaith marriage over within-faith marriage? That is certainly not the message here. Interfaith marriages have their own issues. In general, one should expect higher divorce rates in interfaith marriages versus within-faith marriages. Most inter-religious issues will surface only after your children reach ages 5-13 when time comes to decide the “formal” religion of children.

Cultural issues could also add to complexities at later age. As an Eastern man enters late middle age (i.e. 50+ years,) he would tend to go back to his own roots and find that there is nothing of common interest left with the menopausal-Margaret.

In general, compared to interfaith marriages, the gravity of issues is higher in the early years of within-faith married life. If Meera wishes to be successful in a within-faith marriage, she has to learn to deal sternly with in-laws. Further, from the start, Meera has to start teaching the Eastern husband rules of married life. If Meera manages to deal with the issues early on, the rest of married life may improve over the years. Contrary to that, most inter-religious issues will resurface about ten years into married life and religious conflicts will continue till it is a time to perform the final rites.

Time has come for the Eastern parents to adapt to the new realities of life. Generally, parents will have always something to complain about Meera’s choices, be that inter- or within-faith marriage. Those parents should be reminded that the situation could potentially be worst if Mira decides to marry Margaret.

Parents should know that they don’t “own” the child, but that child has come to this world through you, a set of parents. If parents start respecting their children like they do to their boss at work, parent-child relationship will blossom and both will benefit.

Grass is always greener on the other side. Instead of getting stuck on issues in your planned married life, one needs to learn to deal with issues at hand. For example, if a person raised in the Dharmic faith happened to fall into love with a religious person from an Abrahamic faith, the most critical question to address upfront is the formal religion of your children (simply say No BBS). On the other hand, if you are considering a within-faith marriage, look for real compatibility in your intended spouse and evaluate potential negative influences of in-laws in your married life.

Life is never like a rose garden; and even if it is, roses always have thorns. Learn to live and let others live. -Admin


Other articles written by InterfaithShaadi:
Bar Mitzvah for Hindus?,
Torah on Hindus?,
Koran on Hindus?,
Bible on Hindus?,
Hindus, Abrahamics and Intolerants,
Can Allah be the Father God?,
A Jealous and Angry God,
One God, Allah?,
Idol Worshippers: Who is and Who is Not,
Circumcision: Science or Superstition? ,
Saif and Kareena: Religion and Marriage,
Religious Conversion for Marriage,
Ten Points of Interfaith Dating ,
FAQ on Interfaith Marriage,
45% of Muslims Marry outside their faith,
38% of Hindus marry Abrahamics,
Interfaith Marriages: A Message to Dharmics,
Hindu-Muslim marriages,
Hindu girl/boy, Muslim girl/boy,
Hindu-Christian Marriage,
Hindu-Jew marriages,
Marriage laws,
Follow Jesus not the church

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4 Responses to “Meera Verses Margaret”

  1. Kalpana says:

    I am a Hindu-Gujarati (Swaminarayan) in love with a Hindu-Punjabi man. We are beginning our careers. We are deeply in love and committed to one another. His parents have no objection, they are much more liberal than mine. However, I have told my parents about him and my father states there’s no way he will sanction the relationship. He has said I must marry a xyz or else I shall be disowned.

    I have told my parents I will end the relationship, however I will still be trying to convince them of our love for one another. I chose to take this route, because i feel as though my parents were blinded with anger at my lying to them for a year and a half, and this was the only way they would listen to me.

    Our cultural differences should be celebrated and integrated. However, my strongly religious and conservative family completely disagree. I am having real trouble trying to accept their views, as we are both Hindu, and my boyfriend has become vegetarian and stated he wants to learn the teachings of Swaminarayan and integrate them into our lives and our future childrens lives. The basic fundamentals of Hinduism are the same for us both, so it’s not technically conversion.

    My older siblings do not support me and they have married within my fathers requirements, I do not have their support. But they each suffer from their own difficulties. Being in a sanctioned relationship does not necessarily bring happiness. My boyfriend loves me without bounds, is ambitious, has financial stability, wants similar things out of life as i do, is very charitable and supportive. He has a kind, pure personality and makes me laugh to no end. We have an incredible connection which cannot be easily found in just anyone. I cannot think about marrying another man, nor he another woman, that would end in 4 lives being unfulfilled or at least 2 filled with regret.

    I feel like my parents are being extremely close minded in such a modern world in the UK. They do not wish to know about him or meet him or his family. I can’t forsake my family, but I can see a very happy future with my boyfriend. I don’t know what to do.

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  2. Hareesh says:

    Dear Admin., I am grateful that you have given me an opportunity to express my views on this website and for the appreciation made by you regarding my writing. Sir, with regard to writing a book on such a delicate and all encompassing subject that is God, there are so many enlightened and eminent persons spread on the lap of mother earth to give us real light. I am just an humble and common man who is still struggling to grasp something of essence about God. My sincere thanks to you for your kind and affectionate words. Namaste.

  3. Hareesh says:

    I have found this piece ” Meera vs Margret a very constructive and thoughtful one and wonder why no comment has been offered on contents of this wonderful piece.

    When I compare Meera and Margret, it is very much evident that Margret is the woman who stands equal to man in every respect, be it home front, social front or official arena. Margret comes across as a woman who is fiercely independent and assertive woman and comes from such a background that man cannot dare to maltreat her, exploit her or suppress her. Here man and woman both are at the same pedestal. It also surprises me no end that notwithstanding any adverse religious contents in the sacred book, Margret is invincible and acts strictly in accordance with requirements of practical life. She however may opt to toe the religious teaching if she feels so but it will have no impact on affairs of her day to day life. This aspect is remarkable and it is a fact that the eastern world is laggard in this regard.

    Though Hindus worship Goddesses and see their reflection in the little girls(kanyaas) and even touch and wash their feet on the festival named as Navratras when Goddess Durga is worshipped in her nine forms, women are not treated well generally and men always assert themselves over them and occasionally I’ll treat them. Muslims are not any better also and their menfolk deem themselves superior over them. So in a way, it is an admitted fact that women belonging to Christianity reap real fruits of progress whereas their counterparts from other faiths are less fortunate and are struggling to gain foothold on gender equality. However, notwithstanding above, I am alarmed by the split second divorces and break ups occurring in the western world. There is apparent lack of tolerance among women folk as well as men in the western world due to which relationships are not stable and children bear the most of the brunt. So there seems a disorder and lack of cohesiveness in the western world or Margret’s world whereas Meera ‘s world seems very impeccable and very responsible.

    So in my view, total orientation toward West is counter productive and it would be better if Margret imbibes some eastern spirit to make her life worth living and when Meera looks up to west, she should not go berserk and maintain her equilibrium while making her husband behave like a equal in the real sense.

    To me, no single way either western or eastern is compatible and a real condiment of both is needed to sprout a wonderful streak in living.

    Admin. You have brought up such an educative and informative piece which is really very appreciative and both men and women of the world should inculcate the message ingrained in it. Namaste.

    • admin says:

      We are glad at least someone bothered to read it. This article took about 2 years to complete our thoughts for what we want to say about Eastern and Western societies and to Easterns now in the West.

      We fully agree to “no single way either western or eastern is…”. Ideally, it is good to take best from both cultures. However, if an Eastern man is dreaming about Meera, she must make sure to make him realize that there is a Margaret sitting inside Meera. Eastern men must learn to respect Meera just like Margaret, and not take her granted.

      Hareesh, we enjoy reading your comments on this web site. You should plan to write a book on Who is the God?

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