Post # 1
Hi, I was wondering if anyone had any advice for me. I’m Irish, brought up catholic but now atheist. FI is Indian, from a hindu background, but is now agnostic. We’re getting married in a civil ceremony in Ireland, but are planning to have a wedding ceremony in India also in order tot keep his father happy. We’ve been looking into it, and as far as I can tell I would need to go through a conversion ceremony prior to this. It makes me feel very uncomfortable to claim to believe in something I don’t and I would prefer not to, but I’m worried it’ll cause problems between FI and his dad if we cant have a ceremony because of this. Am I being selfish because I don’t want to do this? Should I get over myself and go through with this, or is there another way?
By the way FI is happy to support me whatever I decide, and his dad is not concerned about me not being hindu, but is very attached to us having an Indian ceremony. (For cultural reasons rather than religious I think)
Post # 3
@aliciaspinnet: Ugh. Such a difficult concept. On one hand I, like you, would be really uncomfortable declaring I believe in something I do not. But OTOH it’s going to make you in-laws accept your marriage. It’s really a personal thing and totally up to you. But if it were me I’d probably do it. I wouldn’t like it and I’d fight with my own conscience. But in the end I’d probably just suck it up and do it. I kind of have a similar thing, though not as extreme because I wouldn’t have to convert to anything. But I am completely not religious/don’t believe in anything and FI’s family is Evangelical (and some are Jehovah’s Witness). So they’ll be expecting a religious ceremony. Since I don’t believe in it I’d rather not get married in a church. But then I don’t plan on telling them my beliefs because they would judge me and I know it. So I will most likely do it in a church at some point (for the 2nd ceremony, we’re going to the courthouse here first). So I’m with you. It sucks and it’s not fair, but it’s hard enough to get along with in-laws as it is without adding issues.
Post # 4
For me, converting to any belief system to make someone else happy is always wrong. This is such an intensely personal thing and is just one of those things that I feel is non-negotiable.
Have you and FI discussed this? Does he feel it is important to you to convert or does he support you in not converting?
FI needs to explain to his father that you are not Hindu, are not planning to convert to Hinduism, and that you will be his wife.
Also, I feel that if someone converts to a belief system under false pretenses it is very disrespectful to those who do practice that religion. Have you ever looked at it from that perspective?
Post # 5
@aliciaspinnet: Hi there,
I’m Hindu getting married to a Christian man and no one has ever said anything to him about having to convert ever. That would actually probably be a deal breaker for him.
I have never ever heard of a non hindu being forced to convert for the sake of marriage, and I know of quite a few hindu people married to non hindus.
Where did you find out about a conversion ceremony? Perhaps they mean a cleansing ceremony? This is also known as a haldi or nalangu.
Hopefully this puts your mind at ease a bit. Obviously it would also depend on the priest marrying you guys as well as perhaps where in India his family are from. Obviously some people are more orthodox than others.
Post # 6
I’ve never heard of someone being forced to convert to Hinduism. I also second @hermom: belief is intensely personal, and pretending to be something you are not is very disrespectful to actual believers.
Your in-laws have to learn to respect you for who you are, and this includes respecting your beliefs. What if you have children? Will they expect them to be raised Hindu as well? You need to stand up for yourself. Be counted!
Post # 7
Thanks for the support everyone. Im still in the process of gathering information about this. My FFIL has suggested an Arya Samaj wedding, and I according to the links he sent under they would only perform weddings between 2 Hindus. In order to get married I would have to undergo a purification ceremony called Shuddhi Karma, after which I would get a certificate of conversion to Hinduism.
My FFIL is fine with me not being a hindu (and hopefully won’t have any issue with the kids not being raised as Hindus because that is something I will not give in on – they will be raised to renown about their heritage but I will not force beliefs on my future hypothetical children, they can decide for themselves when old enough), but is very set on there being an Indian ceremony, which I am keen to support if possible. FI has said he will fully support me whatever I decide, and if I am not comfortable then we won’t have the ceremony – but he and his dad have already had one big fight because his dad thought he didn’t want to have any Indian ceremony at all, so I’m scared as to what will happen if I refuse.
Im reluctant to go through with it for the reasons listed above – it feels like a lie and also feels disrespectful for me to do it. To be honest this is all very new to me, so if there is an alternative I would be very glad!
Post # 8
Oh and we will be legally married in the Irish ceremony, so the Indian one is not a legal ceremony. I don’t know if that makes any difference.
Post # 9
@aliciaspinnet: I am a Hindu and my FI is Jewish – there has been absolutely no talk of conversion, even though we are having a Hindu ceremony (and also a Jewish one, to celebrate both sides). Our priest, though very traditional, has married several interfaith couples without requiring conversion – so it can definitely be done depending on the sect and individual preferences of the priest. Maybe look into a different priest?
Post # 10
@essiesstyle: Good to know. It’s a little difficult for me because the wedding is in India, so I don’t really know where to start looking, and I’m very much relying on my FILs guidance on what to do, but hopefully we can find a solution.
Post # 11
@aliciaspinnet: I can imagine that is tough. I re-read your original post and it said your future FIL is ok with you not being Hindu? That’s a huge positive that you might be able to leverage – maybe you can just be honest with him and say that while you would love to have (and it is important to you that you have) a religious ceremony that celebrates the heritage of your FH, you are not comfortable with the idea of conversion, and is there a way that you can still have that ceremony without having to convert. Maybe he has some other ideas – or at least he would be in a better position to investigate. You may also want to see if you can find a resource online (maybe a forum of some sort) with more educated folks on the tenets of Hinduism so you can pose the question to them too? Good luck 🙂
Post # 12
@essiesstyle: I think that’s what I’ll do. Hopefully he’ll understand. In our last conversation I told him it made me uncomfortable and I would have to think about it, but he didn’t seem to understand why I felt like that. He kept telling me that I didnt have to really convert, just go through with the purification ritual – basically just pretend to convert so that we could have the ceremony. Ill try and make it clear to him why I do not want to do that. I’m glad to hear that other people understand my position on this. I was worried I was being selfish by refusing to go through with this, especially since I am atheist – it’s not like I’m betraying my catholic beliefs since I don’t hold to that anymore.
FI and I will talk to him tomorrow about this, and in the meantime I’ll keep trying to research on my own. Hopefully he’ll understand, things are already very strained between FI and his dad for other reasons and I really don’t want to come between them.
Post # 13
@aliciaspinnet: From a little googling, it seems you can get an Arya Samaj wedding as a non Hindu, provided you are not a member of one of The Book religious branches (Jewish/Muslim/Christian.) Try using the term “Arya Samaj Inter Religion” to search for Indian temples that will perform these rites. “Inter Religion” seems to be the popular phrase offered by translators, rather than “interfaith.”
You also might get some usage out of reading over http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atheism_in_Hinduism particularly as using the native term for not worshipping a god may give you some extra temple clout. I would suggest NOT mentioning your former Christianity.
I do agree with you that converting for the purpose of being allowed to marry is wrong. Religious (or lack thereof) choices should come from a personal level. Doing it out of obligation is missing the point, and disrespectful to the system of beliefs.