The marriage of my parents resulted in the co-existence of two diverse faiths - Christianity and Hinduism - in the same home. What are the different advantages of being able to experience two different religions and the many different reactions society has towards a person like me?
My parents got married 25 years ago, in India. India in the past very much believed in a caste system under which it was virtually impossible for people from different castes to inter-marry. It is safe to say that to date Indian society is influenced by this system, further 25 years ago the influence was a lot stronger. Therefore for my parents to get married at that time was not an easy task. Although now their families have accepted their marriage, it was necessary for both my parents to runaway from home in order to get married. Even though it is sad that they had to go through such ordeals, it has been refreshing however to hear all these stories of hardships, yet my parents have never fought over issues of religion. This has probably been the biggest advantage of being able to live in a home where two religions are practiced, the acceptance and tolerance of others.
Of all the advantages, the most important one is that it has taught me to be accepting of people. This acceptance is of people not only with a different religion, but also of people of different races, beliefs and virtually any other aspect where there is a difference. Although both my parents are from India, just the fact that they follow a different faith, makes their way of life in fact very different. These differences include the types of clothes they wear, the different foods they eat, the way they pray and other aspects of lifestyle. This variety of differences sometimes makes me feel like my parents of are from two different countries. This feeling I feel is the reason why I sometimes parallel my situation to one of a biracial person. I ask how can a person who is both black and white, be a racist? Same way I don't see how a person who has parents of two different religions be racist or discriminating towards others? This exposure to the two different lifestyles is another advantage. I think I have become a very open minded person and learnt a lot about myself and the attitudes and actions of others. I have not only gotten to learn about but experience first hand the rituals and practices of the two faiths.
To every good there is bad; and a disadvantage of my situation is that many a times I am left confused about myself. Although this statement is contradicts my statement in the last paragraph I feel both sides of coin are true. As I grow older I realize that this confusion is a result of the constant questioning of society. In a hypothetical situation where I would never have to leave home, I don't believe that I would be left with this feeling of confusion. I mean anywhere the discussion of religion comes up I acquire a sort of complex. When people ask what religion I am, I say I'm both Hindu and Christian. But that's not enough for the investigators. I then have to explain how mom is Christian and my dad is Hindu. Even this is not enough; then I get asked what am I?
"Well I thought my first answer was an answer to this question," I say. "But how can you be both?" is the reply. This is so frustrating for me. I think to myself, I am sure these people would not have a problem with a biracial person saying I am both black and white. Then why can't they accept a person who is both a Hindu and a Christian? Another situation that constantly annoys me is the questions that start flying because I wear both a cross and an ohm symbol on my chain. The first question is why am I wearing a cross. I ask why don't they ask me why I am wearing an Om? I am sure the fact that I am Indian has a lot to do with cross being in question. I assume that people feel that my wearing a cross is just a fashion statement. Again I have to explain my situation and the conversation most of times ends with the same question "how can you be both".
My situation becomes more frustrating at family engagements. Family members, especially the elders, constantly ask whether I am going to marry a Christian girl or a Hindu girl. I ask myself and sometimes the family member if I have the courage to, why I can't marry a Muslim girl or Jewish girl?
Don't get me wrong I really enjoy each and every aspect of my situation and moreover my life. Although the challenge society presents to me with all their questions, can be frustrating it is exciting at the same time and I even welcome it sometimes. I feel that the marriage of my parents is the exact portrayal of what Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. had dreamt about. I just don't understand the constant questioning of society.
I too have a dream: I hope for a society where people can mind their own business and not question the actions and lives of others. I understand people only question what's different than them. But a gay person doesn't question a straight person, a person with piercing and tattoos doesn't question a person with none and last but certainly not the least, a person with two religions doesn't question a person following only one religion. If these members can live in society without being questioned and pestered, I have a dream that we too get to live in society where we enjoy peace and the freedom to live our lives the way we want.