As India celebrates seventy years of independence, I thought there was no better way to celebrate our nation, than to acknowledge and celebrate the bonds that bring us together despite our cultural differences. Nobody exemplifies this more than the men and women that have tied the matrimonial knot despite differences in language, food and even religion. Throughout the month of August, the Times of Amma will be speaking to Moms who are raising multicultural children and Moms who grew up in multicultural families.
Today in our Unity in Diversity Special Series, Deepannita writes about her Hindu-Muslim love story that brought together an Assamese Muslim family with a Bengali Brahmin one.
Where did you both meet? We would love to hear your story.
It was the year 2009 when the world was not hit by the social media storm. I had just started using Orkut (a social media site just like Facebook). One fine day I got a call from an unknown number saying that he got my number from one of our mutual friends and that he wants to be my friend. I disconnected at the very moment and got really annoyed. Then the next day there was a message on my cell phone with a “Good Morning” text. I ignored the message. But there was some connection which let me reply to his message at night with a “Good Night”. And then the saga of messages continued.
Unaware of each other’s appearance, slowly and gradually we started feeling for each other. With daily chats on phone and Orkut, our bond became more strong. Those days neither of us used to own a smartphone or a phone with a camera, so forget about seeing each other. The SMS pack used to work great for us. Then finally after 4 months of chatting and talking on the phone, we met. And yes, it was love at first sight. Or I should say it was love at first word for us. He accepted me the way I am and I accepted him the way he is. It’s been 8 years now and we are happily together. We were blessed with a beautiful daughter last year.
Which languages do you speak at home? Which language is your child most comfortable in?
We have an interfaith marriage. He is an Assamese Muslim and I am a Bengali Brahmin. We both know each other’s languages but we prefer to talk in English or Hindi. Not because we want to be cool or something like that but because both these languages are widely known and spoken so we tend to use them in our daily life too.
My baby is just 9 months old. I think we will make her talk in English and Hindi as well. She can learn the regional languages from her grand -parents on both sides.
3. What would you call are the family’s favorite home foods?
Since I am born and raised in Assam, my love for Assamese food is undying. We also enjoy Bengali cuisine at home cooked by my mother.
What are some of your biggest cultural differences?
In our case, everything is different. We worship different Gods and celebrate different festivals. But it is is truly a blessing that he respects my religion and celebrates all my festivals with full enthusiasm and vice versa. He buys me clothes during Durga Puja and I cook delicious biryani and mutton korma for him during Eid-ul-Fitr.
Did getting married to someone from another state bring you closer to your parents or did it pose a challenge?
It did pose a very big challenge for me as it was very difficult for my family to digest the fact that I am in a relationship with a Muslim guy. They put restrictions on me and seized my phone as well. I had to finally ELOPE. Yes, I eloped, not because I did not love my parents but somehow I could not control my emotions, because I knew that life would have been very difficult without this man. I loved him truly, I still do and wanted to be with him for the rest of my life. I flew down to Delhi all alone and then we got our marriage registered under the Special Marriage Act. For 5 long months I was not in touch with my parents. Finally, I got hold of my guts and made a call to my parents. That call melted all their egos and within a week they were in Delhi to see me. That’s it. Since then both my family and my husband’s family share a very good bond amongst each other. We also got a formal reception ceremony done at his place for all the extended family and friends.
What have the biggest challenges been as far as starting a bi-cultural family is concerned?
There were no challenges as such. My husband is very understanding and gave me my space. Since ours is a nuclear family as my In-laws stays abroad, there was no problem at all. My mother in law is also a Hindu lady, so she could understand me and my problems better.
I have heard about many instances of forceful faith conversion in Interfaith marriages. In my case, things have been so smooth that I have a separate place to worship (Puja Ghar) in my home.
What have been your greatest joys as a family from two parts of India?
As a family, my greatest joy is that my daughter will get hands-on experience of both the cultures and religions. The question of belief will be at her discretion.
Thank you Deepannita, for sharing your dramatic yet harmonious love story. We wish you and your family a very Happy Independence Day.
For more stories from multicultural families like Deepannita's come join us on Facebook.
For a look at the behind the scenes life of Team Times of Amma, take a dekko at our Instagram feed and join the conversation.