Friday, August 19, 2016

Religion and Children

Media is full of stories about `Honour Killings` of boys and girls of different castes and religions to protect the reputation of the families involved. The heinous crimes are committed not by outsiders but by the near and dear ones of the victims; mostly belonging to lower or middle income  families.  On the other hand inter religious/caste marriages are quite common in the upper strata of society, especially  among boys and girls  going abroad for studies and finding their life partners from other religions and countries across the world; and the parents have no choice but to grin and bear it.
I know of a friend, an orthodox and conservative Tam Brahm, who told his daughter when she was going abroad for further studies, not to get trapped in a marriage with boys from other religions.  ` Please ensure that you only marry a Hindu` he told her. The girl in due course not only came out with flying colours in whatever course she was pursuing but also fell  madly in love with a Pakistani Muslim and wanted to marry him. My friend was devastated, but considering the intensity of love of his daughter and looking at her future happiness, he reluctantly agreed to the match. He consoled himself when he met his friends saying that `After all marriages are made in Heaven. `
My question is what happens to the children born out of such inter-religious marriages - Hindu & Christian, Christian & Muslim or Hindu & Muslim? Which religion will the children follow?  Father`s or Mother`s? It is a difficult choice to make for the children. While many take the easy route of following both religions to keep both parents happy I know of a case where the children made a conscious and well considered decision.
  A boy and a girl born to a South Indian Christian father and Tam-Brahm mother were exposed to both  churches  and temples in their growing years.  The Pooja room in their house had a corner devoted to the picture of Christ and Mother Mary and another corner where scores of pictures of several Hindu Gods were on display. The  parents did not force any one religion on their children. When the children came of age , the father asked them which religion they would like to choose.  The daughter responded that she  preferred  the church to  a temple because the churches were so clean whereas  temples in most places  are dirty and don`t even have toilets! The son preferred to remain agnostic.
I also know of cases where parents try to impose their will on the children confusing them in the process. Many intelligent children however, have their own take on the subject. They say, ` I don`t believe in any religion. I believe in the Supreme Being that controls the Universe. It has no shape or form.  I believe in my conscience and myself`
After all isn`t that what every religion teaches - Look for God within You. Aham Brahmasmi!

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