On March 22, the day Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi was making headlines for agreeing to present himself in front of the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team to probe the 2002 Hindu-Muslim riots in Gujarat, I was attending a friend’s wedding. The friend, a computer engineer working with IBM, is a Hindu Brahmin from southern Tamil Nadu state. His bride, on the other hand, is from Allahabad, a historic north India town. And she’s Muslim. Their wedding was like most others one attends in the capital – lovely lights, great food, and nearly two hundred people bedecked in their sartorial best.
But, what got me thinking when I came home and watched our various news networks hold impassioned discussions on Modi, who scarily personifies all that can go wrong with Hindu-Muslim harmony, was that hopefully one day weddings like these will relegate men like Modi and their divisive politics to irrelevance.
Encouragingly, this wasn’t my first Hindu-Muslim wedding. In the last few years, I have celebrated a couple of such inter-religious marriages, all of good friends. Their weddings went off without a hitch (one friend in particular was on the edge throughout his wedding fearing a backlash from self-styled faith keepers), and with the blessings of families (who came around eventually) to validate the match. I meet these couples often and to me, there’s no extra nuance to the marriage on account of the different faiths.
Yes, these couples live in Delhi and enjoy the anonymity of a sprawling metropolis. Maybe things would not be as easy in small town Uttar Pradesh or in the interiors of Maharashtra. But then, didn’t the worst Hindu-Muslim riots take place in cosmopolitan Mumbai and seemingly ‘peace-loving’ Gujarat, also the home of Mahatama Gandhi? I don’t want to force connections here. But, on a day the wounds of the 2002 riots in Gujarat pricked us yet again, it was nice to be healed by these bonds of love.