Letters to the Editor

Re: Intercaste Marriages In The Community

We all wish, our children marry within our fold to ensure greater compatibility, stability and happiness in their married lives, and to safeguard the dignity and acceptance of their children. A social stigma exists in our community for inter-caste married ladies and their innocent children. Even so, there is a steep rise in the number of intercaste marriages in our community. Earlier it was mainly the ladies, but now even the young men are mostly marrying foreigners. With intercast marriages claiming 40% of all marriages in the community, we must strive to motivate our youngsters to find life partners from within our community.

With most community members privileged to live in baugs and colonies, we must increase platforms, activities and events that further facilitate their inter-mingling. A better understanding from our religious scholars and priests can help impart knowledge about our lofty religion, laying stress on the importance to marry within our fold. That might perhaps help.

As intercaste marriages have become a common phenomenon for a while now, we have lost our so-called unadulterated pure identity. When we have accepted children of intermarried Parsi males to be initiated in our religion since over a century, the same rules should apply to intermarried Parsi ladies. We all know that mothers have a great influence on the child’s behavior. A Parsi mother can motivate her child to follow the tenets of our religion even though they may not be initiated in the Zoroastrian faith. Most intercaste marriages are by registration in civil courts under the Special Marriage Act 1954, where there is no conversion of religion and the spouses are free to practice their own religion, wear their religious outfits and attend religious functions and ceremonies.

Over a hundred years back, a ruling was passed in Bombay High Court by which children of intermarried Parsi males were initiated in Zoroastrian religion by performing their Navjote ceremonies. Lately, a new controversy has cropped up, that if a Zoroastrian (male or female) marries outside the community he/she loses his religious identity. Up till now, it was surmised that unless one abandons his religion and converts to another religion, he retains his religious identity as a member of Zoroastrian community. The highly revered head priest, Er. Aibara has views of his own and though he had great regard for the deceased gentleman, with a heavy heart he refused prayers for the dead, abiding by the voice of his conscience and not compromising on his religious principles.

Marriage is an open, honorable and legal union of two individuals, even if it is between persons of different religions. It is not adultery or a secret that’s illicit and unholy, to be condemned. The community needs certain guidelines on such controversial issues. In one voice, we all condemn conversion that is admitting the spouses of intermarried Zoroastrians in our fold, but there are other issues on which there is no consensus.

Today, the community seems like a rudderless boat, sailing helter-skelter in the rough seas, without any unified guidance or direction. We have an ample wealth of legal experts, religious scholars, men of wisdom and great experience in our community, who can give us guidelines and direction for smooth working and to put an end to all such controversies.

Religion and prayers fulfil the spiritual needs of an individual and bring solace to grieving hearts. It is a link between man and his Maker. Prayers are all-important to the community and we feel great pain when our dear departed ones are deprived the prayers during their final farewell. It is difficult to understand what purpose is served by denying the same.

Ours is a most democratic religion giving us the freedom to abide by the voice of our conscience. If one chooses to marry a person of one’s choice from another community, he is excommunicated. Is that what the most democratic religion of the world preaches and teaches? Is religion meant to inflict punishment?

Let us end all our petty squabbles and frame a constitution which provides the right direction to the community, and is structured for the progress and welfare of our future generations!

By Piroja Homi Jokhi

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