If you know anything about Hindu weddings, you’ll know they are exciting and vibrant celebrations of a couple. They look like a lot of fun with great food and wonderful events leading up to the central wedding ceremony. You may find yourself wondering if non-Hindus can have a Hindu wedding.
It is acceptable for a non-Hindu to have a Hindu wedding, but only if their partner belongs to the religion. The faith has an entire culture around it and welcomes people of other beliefs to many of its ceremonies and celebrations. However, those who do not belong to the religion should be careful of cultural appropriation.
In this article, we will cover the ideologies and considerations around interfaith marriages. We will also explore the relationship between Hinduism and Christianity, such as whether a Christian can attend a Hindu wedding.
Non-Hindus Can Have Hindu Weddings with Hindu Partners
While not extremely common, mixed-faith marriages are acceptable under the teachings of Hinduism. In fact, it is considered dharma, or way of life. The religion is a cultural duty and teaching system. Hindus follow the teachings to shape their moral, worldly, and spiritual beliefs.
Unlike other religions, Hinduism embraces many religious ideologies. Some of the core beliefs include:
- Devotion and honor lead to enlightenment
We will now cover a few aspects that contribute to the acceptance of mixed-faith marriages.
Couples Must Be 7 Genetic Steps Removed
A major part of Hindu teachings is that a couple must not be related closely. It requires couples to have at least 7 degrees of separation.
“This is taken seriously, and the first thing many Hindus check about a suitable partner is whether they are related – even distantly.”
This ideology is likely born out of historical times when Hindus may have lived in smaller villages. These villages may have been comprised of only a few large families. Thus, families would have to look outside of their villages for acceptable partners.
In today’s world, this ideology can play a part in the acceptance of a non-Hindu partner. This is because the non-Hindu is unlikely to be related in any way.
Arranged Marriages Are Not Required
As mentioned, in historical times, Hindus may have had to travel to other villages in order to find partners. This practice often led to arranged marriages, as the parents or elders would be the ones to travel.
Although arranged marriages are not uncommon in Hinduism, they are not a religious or cultural requirement. Depending on the region they come from, some Hindu families may prefer their children to marry within the culture. Often times, they will marry within their own faith because that is who they live closest to.
“Today, with about 900 million followers, Hinduism is the third-largest religion behind Christianity and Islam. Roughly 95 percent of the world’s Hindus live in India.”
However, with modern-day transportation and resources, Hindus have spread outside of India and are increasingly finding non-Hindu partners. This has led, of course, to the blending on multiple religion’s marriage customs.
Interfaith Marriages are Permitted
When it comes to the marriage of a Hindu and a non-Hindu, a Hindu wedding is still likely to take place. However, this does not require the non-Hindu to convert. Hinduism does not have any type of conversion ritual and is rather seen as a way of life. Thus, non-Hindus, rather than converting, can simply begin adhering to that way of life.
The Hindu culture places a lot of ceremonial symbolism on weddings. It is important for a Hindu to have a Hindu, also known as Vedic, wedding. Despite this, non-Hindus are welcome to participate in the ceremonies. The wedding, instead of converting the partner, is welcoming the non-Hindu into the way of life of Hinduism.
Regardless of whether the couple are both Hindus, the wedding will be a celebration and wish of good fortune for the couple.
Can a Christian Attend a Hindu Wedding?
Christians can absolutely attend Hindu weddings and are welcome to do so. However, it comes down to their personal beliefs about whether they feel comfortable attending.
The Christian faith believes in only one true God, and that all others are false idols. The only path to salvation is through devotion to their God. Comparatively, Hinduism celebrates multiple deities and paths to salvation. Hinduism does recognize one supreme deity, called Braham.
At Hindu weddings, there will be multiple religious ceremonies, some of which Christians may see as disrespectful to their own God. Conversely, they may also embrace the culture of another faith and immerse themselves in it without feeling disloyal to their own religion. This may ultimately come down to how strict their practice is.
It Depends on the Christian’s View of Interfaith Marriage
While some denominations of the Christian religion are accepting of interfaith marriages, stricter denominations may not be. In this case, it may be their choice not to attend a marriage blessed by another faith.
In truth, if a Christian is unaccepting of Hinduism, it may be best practice for them not to attend. This is because Hindu weddings are meant to bless and bring good fortune to the couple. Negative or unsupportive thoughts can be interpreted as disrespectful or even seen as bad luck for the couple who is supposed to be having their marriage blessed.
However, there is nothing within the Hindu faith that bars a Christian from attending the wedding or religious ceremonies. Ultimately, a Christian attendee can sit out of participating in religious ceremonies, but still attend to support and celebrate the couple. This way, they pay their respects to another culture while still maintaining their own practice and beliefs.
Weddings Can Have Both Hindu and Christian Ceremonies
Christian and Hindu marriages are not widely common without a conversion from one partner or the other. However, they do occur. In fact, a marriage between a Hindu and a Christian often will incorporate two wedding ceremonies. Each of these will be dedicated to the two faiths as to pay respects to both traditions.
Blended weddings such as these have occurred throughout modern-day. It truly shows that both religions can accept and celebrate each other. Christian acceptance of Hinduism is nonetheless still a topic of debate for stricter denominations.
Non-Hindus Should be Cautious of Cultural Appropriation
Hindu weddings are quite a colorful and exciting spectacle, especially for those outside of the culture. This can lead many not of the faith wanting to have Hindu-themed celebrations of their own. There are many aspects of the culture that are permitted to be used and celebrated by non-Hindus. This is especially true at weddings.
A non-Hindu is not only allowed but encouraged to take part in the wedding traditions. They can wear traditional garb and even decorate their skin with henna. These practices are acceptable within the correct context. However, non-Hindus should be cautious of using Hindu culture purely for aesthetic purposes. This can sometimes come across as disrespectful or dismissive of the religion.
Hindu Symbols Have Been Used Negatively in History
Non-Hindus should be cautious of taking Hindu culture outside of its usual context. Symbols and practices of the faith are considered sacred and should be treated with a certain level of seriousness. The religion was not meant to be used for consumerism or political means.
There is a major historical instance of this, and one that has potentially made Hindus more protective of their culture. The svastika is an ancient symbol in Hinduism that represents good fortune. However, in the 1920s, the svastika was taken by the Nazi Party of Germany and transformed into the widely infamous swastika display on their flags, uniforms, and propaganda.
This misuse and perversion of the symbol has had long-lasting effects. Even today, many do not know the symbol’s true meaning or origin. According to History Extra:
“So wedded to the poisonous ideology of hate, the Nazi swastika is today reviled in the West, although as an auspicious and sacred symbol in the East, the svastika remains popular within Buddhist and Hindu society.”
While Hindu culture has sought to reclaim the symbol and continue to use it for its original meaning, the Nazi use of it has forever affected the foreign impression of the symbol.
This is an important example to look to in terms of how using Hinduism outside of its cultural context can lead to major disrespect and distortion of Hindu teachings.
Religious Ceremonies are Serious
Aside from the misuse of symbols, it is also important not to disrespect the sanctity of Hindu religious ceremonies. While Hindu weddings have many fun ceremonies, the event as a whole is deeply rooted in religious practice.
Thus, non-Hindus can unintentionally disrespect the culture by using bits and pieces of Hindu wedding ceremonies without a true understanding of the religious aspect. This is why it is generally unacceptable for two non-Hindus to have a Hindu wedding.
It is important to always pay respect to the ceremonies and practices of a religion outside your own. Hinduism is an overall accepting religion, so non-Hindu participation in celebrations is welcome.
Non-Hindus are increasingly finding spiritual satisfaction and inspiration from Hindu culture. Because Hinduism is a way of life, it often embraces those outside of the religion.
While interfaith marriage is still not widely common, Hinduism is likely to accept the non-Hindu and integrate them into the lifestyle. It is important to remember always to be respectful of religious ceremonies at Hindu weddings. However, non-Hindus are welcomed to participate in the celebration just as much as Hindus.
As for Christians, it ultimately comes down to their ideology and comfort level with being immersed in another religion.
The main takeaway here is that embracing cultures different from your own can be a great experience, but you should always approach it with a high degree of respect and consideration.
Photo credits: Image by Simon Hannaby