I was in southern India, the place where I spent my childhood. I had returned to meet my future in-laws. Dressed in traditional garb and with my mother next to me, I walked into their home and was greeted by my partner's sister and mother, with hearty smiles and huge hugs. The older woman, adorned in a crisp banarasi sari and with marigolds in her hair, brought in a plate of coconut sweets that she knew I liked. I looked at my future husband and I couldn't be happier, knowing that his family had wholly accepted me.
Then I woke up. Cool, spring New York air swept through my open window and my dog stirred next to me in her sleep. I awoke to a life in which my lover was gone, simply because my mother had given birth to me in the afternoon instead of the morning. Religion, Faith And Spirituality In Relationships
Like many modern singles, Suman* and I met online a year ago. We had both migrated to the States for higher education in the '90s. As we were both young professionals with a mix of East and West values, we quickly discovered the similarities between us. Having never dated a fellow Indian, I was both excited and hopeful about the prospect of being with someone who shared my language and customs and, more importantly, whose folks lived only blocks away from my kin. Months of getting to know one another through e-mails and marathon telephone conversations led to our finally meeting in person.
A year later, talk of marriage and the possibility of a wedding held on the shores of the Bay of Bengal came up. His calm, conservative Capricorn qualities were a perfect balance to my fiery, impulsive Leo nature. My friends and family approved and couldn't wait for the wedding date to be set. Last December, I made the 8,000-mile trip to the subcontinent to meet his family, hopeful as ever to impress my in-laws-to-be, only to be told that our Vedic horoscopes were not a good match for marriage. I'm Hindu, He's Muslim. Can Interfaith Love Work?
Despite India's rapid economic growth and the technological boom, Hindus—who comprise a vast majority of its population—are traditional folk, and rely on Vedic astrology to help guide their lives. This Eastern horoscopic system is a branch of the Vedas, Hindu scriptures from thousands of years ago. It has a different zodiac than its western counterpart, and predicts the probability of certain events happening based on the prevailing planetary positions at the time and place of birth. Almost every child gets a horoscope prepared at birth, indicating when important milestones—such as the completion of education and the year of marriage—may take place. Some ardent believers also consult either an astrologer (called a pandit)—the local priest proficient in understanding the system—or a Vedic calendar to guide them in their daily lives. There is an auspicious time for everything, from the time a baby is named to the time a corpse is cremated.