Love across religious lines
They risk losing their families and communities to marry someone outside of their faith.
Buhddist vs. Christian
“At one point, I started to wonder what religions are for it they do not allow us to live together with the person we love?” says 37-year-old K.V. Aksalanirushni Adhikari, a Christian who married a Buhddist.
I was a staff member in the packing division of a garment factory. My lover worked in the distribution section of the same factory. We had an affair that secretly went on for three years.
Once my parents found out, they stopped me from going to work. It was a kind of house arrest. They never allowed me to go out alone. I got fed-up. It was then I started thinking about all of these religious differences.
One Sunday I was allowed to go to mass and a small girl approached me and said that someone was waiting outside to see me. It was my lover.
When I explained my situation he said: ‘Okay, let us register the marriage tomorrow.’ I agreed and we married officially in the attendance of our friends. But we kept it a secret. I was very much worried because I was the oldest child and the only daughter. We tried our best to persuade our parents but they were adamant so we decided to leave home.
Our departure created a scandal. Both of our parents became verbally abusive, which went on for several days. My uncle intervened and brought the situation under control, and after two weeks, there was some kind of understanding between the two families.
When we returned to our hometown, a different problem arose: Who would convert? Eventually my husband said he was prepared to embrace Christianity.
Again, there were interventions from both families when it came to naming our first child. At every stage of our lives, religion got in the way.
Now we go to the Buddhist temple and also to church. We have pictures of both Buddha and Jesus in home. We made our son a Christian for schooling purposes.
No one takes an interest in learning the culture of others despite having neighbors of different religions and ethnicity. Many people think that their culture is the best. That’s why all these problems crop up when it comes to marriage.”
Muslim vs. Hindu
“He is a Muslim and I am a Hindu, says Uthayabaskaran Rajesswari. “His father and my father were very good friends and both of our families had a close relationship. We took part in each other’s festivities with our families. Mohamed Dilshad and I were very good friends since childhood. Later on, it developed into a love affair. We did not think the affair between us would create any problems since both families had a very cordial relationship. But when they found out about it my people started to rebuke me. After some time the two families completely stopped talking to each other. My parents were making arrangements for me to marry someone else.
At the time I was a teacher in a government school. One day when I was returning from school, he and some of his friends came in a van and stopped near me.
He got out of the car and asked: “Do you believe in me? Are you prepared to live with me?” Then I told him that if I am to marry anyone it would only be to him.
He told me to get in and we went directly to the registrar and got legally married. When it came out, my family members were very angry. My brother burnt all my belongings including all of my certificates.
Two years passed without any relationship to my family. Then our baby was born and we expected our families to forgive and accept us. First we went to my parents’ house. At the doorstep, my mother said: ‘Only you can come in with my grandson.’ She did not allow my husband in.
At my husband’s home, the treatment was the same. The families were once very close are now see each other as enemies. They are still not prepared to accept us as husband and wife.
When we tried to get our son into a government school religion also caused problems, so we decided on an international school. We have taught him both religions and allowed him to choose,” Rajeswari said.
Our son is 21 years old now but there is no change in the decision of both our parents. Til now I have not visited his home, nor was he was allowed in my house. They will one day accept all three of us,” she says hopefully.
Buhddist vs. Hindu
‘I am a Buddhist and my husband is a Hindu,” says 39-year-old Niluka Puspakumara Vithanage. “Our home town is Kalutara. Our love was initially opposed by my relatives and brothers except my mother and his mother. My mother and his friends made our marriage possible. Financial assistance came from his friends. He was volunteer teacher.
Nobody comes to our house. Only my mother comes. That was bit of a consolation for us. Our daughter was born and she is now three years old. None of our relatives invite us.
“One day when I was reading a newspaper, I came to know that there was Gazette notification about the recruitment of the Court Mudali job. I told my husband to apply for the post immediately and start learning about the subject. He got through the examination and got the posting in Chilaw. Since then, my relatives and the neighbors have started to respect us. Even those who hated us have started visiting us. It shows that nothing is powerful in the face of money and societal status, including religion.”