When the OA and I fell in love, many people wanted to know how we’d handle the issue of different religions. Too caught up in the first blush of romance it wasn’t an issue to us at all. Young and crazy, neither of us was particularly religious and religion seemed like something that the masses depended on for entertainment and the old used as a crutch. So in the face of much opposition we got married and planned our strategy right then. We could choose to be either totally secular or celebrate both our religious identities.
We chose to celebrate life. Double the fun instead of a sterile life, so long as neither of us had to do anything that went against our beliefs. Perhaps the best words said in this matter were by my brother who gave the wedding toast at our reception. “Religion,” he said, “according to the dictionary, is something you believe in. Today, my sister and her husband have chosen to be each other’s religion.” The words brought tears to my eyes.
Once we were legally wed though, we began to work around our differences and boundaries. And I stuck to my habit of reading my Bible and praying each night. The OA although not one for prayer, fell into my habit. And so each night, we sat side by side in our marital bed, one of us reading a Bible, another chanting mantras from a hazy childhood. Those few minutes of prayer each night were indicative of how we dealt with religion – peacefully and amicably. As years went by though, and a third little being made its way into our home and lives and bed, the prayers fell by the wayside. Between dirty diapers and snotty noses we’d fall asleep the moment our heads touched the pillow, praying only for a night of unbroken sleep in the same voice.
But I think there was more to it than falling out of the habit just due to sheer exhaustion. Although we’d been dating for a while, marriage is a whole other ball game. We were each trying to mark out spiritual space out in a way least offensive to the other. Trying to say, ‘You are important to me, but I’m not giving up my personal God.’ We had our share of dissent, but it’s only given us a better understanding of ‘the other’. Sometimes, bringing us even closer. And nothing that any other couple with different political allegiances wouldn’t have gone through.
Soon however our confidence levels in each other grew to an extent where we no longer felt the need to do protect the core of who we were. Where we knew our basic beliefs would not be invaded by the other but protected and defended. How can you feel differently when he is balanced precariously on a ladder hanging up a Star of David on the balcony. Or when you are hunched down, tongue caught between your teeth, concentrating on a rangoli for Diwali? I largely thank the family that supported us because we’d be nowhere without my father holding up his grandson to ring a temple bell or my mother holding a little hand steady for another to tie a rakhi on it. I think in my parents case, religion was not God but family. To them it was more important to support their daughter than worry about what the Church might say.
Life they say, is what happens while you are busy making other plans. And God, comes to you in moments when you don’t expect Him. Over the last years few years I’ve caught a few glimpses of God. In a loving caress, strong arms holding you through the night, a smile across a room, a house becoming a home, the quickening of a baby in the womb, the curl of a baby fist, unsteady first steps and a gurgle.
Our two beautiful children are proof that God blessed this union. His God, my God, our Gods, some God. I buy them books on the birth of Ganesha, he reads them to sleep, telling them tales of David and Goliath. They fall asleep whispering a baby prayer thanking Jesus for the lizard on the wall, and just as you think of sneaking out of their bed to your own, a lilting baby voice breaks the silence to ask you the name of Hanumanji’s mother.
Has religion ever been a real issue with us? Only when people want to pigeonhole us and can’t in their narrow minds envision a home where labels are unnecessary. Only when someone is offensive and I want to punch their teeth in and the OA has to literally pull me back. But there’s a growing tribe of us who have married for love and not for God, and in them I put my faith and my trust and my hope for a better, more sensible world. Also, a post by Unmana that I love.
This seems like a good time to remember Lennon (the only Beatle I can stand!). So, Imagine…
This post was selected for Blog Adda’s Tangy Tuesday picks.