(Closed) Advice needed: Religious differences between my family and his family

posted 5 years ago in Interfaith
Post # 3
Member
900 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: November 2011

@ladyofshalott:    Hmmm….

 

My husband and I are interfaith–he’s hindu and I’m agnostic/christian (really, my family is very conservative Christian and I’m agnostic).  Although none of our parents are at all pushy (what a blessing!), we still wanted to honor ALL of our parents and how they raised us, so we ended up having two ceremonies and two receptions.  My hindu ceremony was also in Sanscrit, which no one but the priest speaks, and even when he was giving directions to us, it was in Tamil, which I don’t speak.  So no one in the audience understood the ceremony (that’s common) and only my husband understood the priest’s directions and translated them for me.  To compensate, we made a VERY DETAILED program, with every step of the ceremony explained in English.  It was fine.

The great thing about a Sikh ceremony is that they are *usually* in temples and a lot of the times, more scaled down compared to a Hindu wedding.  I have two friends (also in interfath marriages) who married a Sikh guy and they both also had a Sikh ceremony and and american ceremony.  In both of their cases, the Sikh ceremony was a little smaller in expense/scale because the ceremony was in the temple (no venue rental) with a vegetarian catered buffet afterward in an adjoining community room.

Their american/christian cermony and reception was a larger affair with a rented venue, food, alcohol, DJ, the works.

So maybe, to honor your parents, you can do both?

 

The obvious issue to this idea is that you don’t feel like you can fold your hands in prayer or do the blessings (which I think is what you are talking about that is like communion).  I think most priests would easily exempt your family from doing that (my own family is very religious and would not have/did not do that).

In fact, my family was so uncomfortable with participating in the ceremony (they were fine with attending and watching, they just didn’t want to be asked to do anything that would potentially go against their religion), so I asked a some of my close friends, a married couple, to stand in and “represent” my family, even though they weren’t my family.  The friends are practicing Catholics, but very open to new experiences, so they were THRILLED to do it.

But if you are the one getting married, then yes, I agree with your in-laws, you’re going to be expected to have your hands together in the praying position a few time.  I spend 60% of the 2+hour ceremony in that position.  It’s just standard.

For me, none of it was a problem at all, because I believe faith is something in your heart, not your hand postioning.  Crossing myself doesn’t make me catholic, closing my eyes during my family’s prayers doesn’t make me protestant, and putting my hands in a praying position doesn’t make me Hindu.

But if that’s a major deal-breaker for you, then you’ll need to have a long talk with your FI about what else you can do to appease his parents. You and he also should discuss what you’ll do in the event of future children.  Sikhs, like hindus, have certain celebration rituals for babies, that even if your FI isn’t religious, he may want to do for cultural tradition reasons–like shaving the baby’s head at 1 month old, etc.

One last thing—it may be silly…but dressing up for a Sikh wedding is so much fun and a once-in-a-lifetime experience!  I loved being in my Hindu ceremony.

 

Pic of us!

Post # 4
Member
362 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: August 2014

I can understand you/your parents’ hesitation in honoring another God. From my experience, Sikhs believe there is one God so in a way you could still honor Jesus through that ceremony if that is the God you are thinking of since their God is nonspecific? 

It would be pretty offensive if you didn’t fold your hands – it’s just a sign of respect (not necessarily pledging allegiance) so that may help you see it differently. Also, if your parents don’t want to be tooinvolved, I don’t think they really have much of a role in the wedding (unlike the Hindu wedding where they may need to put rice or oil or things into the fire) so that probably won’t be a problem.

As for taking the offerring at the end, I’ve never thought of it as a communion in the way bread/wine is – but it would be offensive for you not to accept it. Perhaps you could accept it in your hands, but have your husband eat your share as well?

At the end of the day, it’s what you are comfortable with. These are just some suggestions.

But if neither you nor your FI care about having a Sikh ceremony, you may want to take a hard stance on it with his parents. For myself, I would be fine with having just 1 ceremony in my BF’s religion but my parents felt that they wouldn’t really “Feel” like I was married without a ceremony in our religion too and it was very important to them so we will probably be having two ceremonies. But there are fewer issues because we are all Indian and people are used to attending prayers for different religions and we all fold our hands (in both religions) and we both have (different) sweet offerrings a the end so most of the customs are similar.

Post # 5
Member
362 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: August 2014

@BookGirrl, your wedding pix are soo cute! Congratulations!

Post # 6
Member
400 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: April 2014

@BookGirrl:  Love your pictures!  We’re also going to do a Christian ceremony and a Hindu ceremony. We’re going to try to do it all in one day, Christian ceremony then lunch then Hindu ceremony then reception. It doesn’t look like from your pictures that you had henna, I was going to try to avoid that as well (because I don’t think it would be appropriate to have it on during the Christian ceremony, and it’s not something you can throw on real quick in between). Was his family okay with that? I know my FI is okay with it, but I’m not sure about the rest of the family.

Post # 7
Member
900 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: November 2011

@sah612:  My husband isn’t Indian and luckily, in his culture, they don’t really do henna–so it was a non issue!  But (like henna), there were things that they do that we didn’t have time to do in one weekend of two ceremonies.

Like typically, the day before the hindu ceremony, the bride does all the washing rituals with her family (we skipped that), and weeks before the wedding there’s a gold-melting ceremony for the wedding necklace (skipped that)…and the hindu priest shortened the whole ceremony (they can be many, many hours long and ours was only 1 1/2 hours–lol) to help the americans  who aren’t used to long ceremonies.

SO compromises were made–henna can be a compromise.  If you don’t want it–don’t do it! It stays on for at least a week afterward.  =)

 

Good luck!  One day would be exxxxhuasting.  Ours was on a friday and saturday night (consecutive nights) and I liked having a bit more time for both.  

Post # 8
Member
400 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: April 2014

@BookGirrl:  Ah, that works! I think they’ll understand that it’s a timing issue and conflicting with the other ceremony, not that I hate their culture 🙂  Yeah, my FI has told his mother that when looking for a Hindu priest she needs to make sure he speaks English without a heavy accent and is willing to keep the ceremony to 1 hour (plus the groom’s arrival part), otherwise it will be way too much to do all of it in one day (his parents came over as young adults, so the whole family is very Americanized, so this won’t be a problem). We talked about having it on a Friday and Saturday, but we got lots of complaining from family about making people take time off work (we’re having it in the location where combined we have the most family, but still most people will be traveling)

Post # 9
Member
900 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: November 2011

@sah612:  I don’t know where you live, but our weddings were in Dallas and we couldn’t find a priest that spoke my Husband’s first language (Tamil) AND English, so we ended up with a priest who spoke Tamil.  The whole ceremony is in sanscrit, so no one in the audience understand that–then he would give directions to us in Tamil and either my DH or my SIL would translate it to me, like “throw that in the fire”.

At first, I thought that having someoen translate the ceremony directions to me would be super wierd, but then I found out that Hindu wedding are much less formal than western ceremonies are.  The audience will mill around, be on their cell phones, walk around taking pictures, eat snacks, drink something, etc.  They really don’t even pay THAT much attention to the ceremony (since they tend to be so long).

So then it didn’t seem strange at all to have SIL translate to me, because it wasn’t a totally-silent-and-still atmosphere like a western wedding tends to be.

Post # 10
Member
400 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: April 2014

@BookGirrl:  Haha, his sister’s wedding was in Dallas because that’s where his parents live, so they only know about getting wedding stuff for Dallas 🙂  We’re getting married in the San Francisco area. Their language is Marathi, and I honestly don’t think my FI would understand directions and such in it. He knows foods… animals… people… but not a lot of other stuff. So someone other than him may have to translate for both of us.

He did already mention that people would be milling around and such, and we’re going to go to a family friend’s wedding this summer so I can see what it will be like ahead of time.

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