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Sikh & Non-Sikh relationship/marriage

Discussion in 'Love & Marriage' started by andrew, Jul 17, 2010.

  1. andrew

    andrew
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    Dear All,

    I am wanting greater understanding of the implications of the following - I'm an English male in a relationship with an initiated Sikh woman. We are both fortunate in that we have found a tremendous love for each other, with a perfect respect, trust, love, balance, and 'life faith'. We understand and have expressed/shared how we 'feel' that we have known each other for years and that our relationship is the most natural we would want for our lives; both individually and as a couple.

    We both understand the implications of our relationship, and at the same time, are genuinely in acceptance of each others religion and 'life faith'; my girlfriend initiated Sikh, me agnostic.

    It may be appropriate for me to explain my religious background, being brought up a practising Christian, a head choirboy as a child/teenager, grandfather a minister etc. As an adult, my faith has developed into a neutral religious faith respecting all religions, individuals personal faith, and cultural backgrounds for what they are.

    The real issue here is how can we live together as husband and wife? Our backgrounds are of highly professional individuals who both respect, accept, and enjoy each others faiths. Jointly understanding that neither of us would want to change the other in any way.

    From my side I receive much happiness in seeing my partner completing her daily prayers and the importance of her religion within her life. I have also benefited from a much greater understanding of Sikhism, with all the good the religion/faith is based upon.

    So, how can an initiated Sikh woman and an agnostic English man share their lives together? Is there a 'way' for this to be accepted within an initiated Sikh family and its' extended community?

    Any help/advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.
     
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  3. Randip Singh

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    I used to think, hey, love can conquer all and everything will be fine.

    But no longer!

    I have seen too many relationships like yours fail. Either she will have to become Agnostic or you will have to become Sikh.

    I do not think you fully comprehend that Sikhi is not just about people doing prayers. It is a way of life.

    That's all I wish to say at this moment.
     
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  4. spnadmin

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    andrew ji

    I usually take a neutral stand on this topic. Please do not think I am wagging my fingers at you, beating a drum, or nagging you. You situation is plagued with difficulties. It is not impossible to work things out. But keep in mind that in every chapter of married life there will be grave challenges. Religious differences can complicate the path to solving many of them.

    I leave with one question. You say your intended is initiated. That means that she is amritdhari and as such is forbidden according to the Sikh Rehat Mayrada to marry anyone other than an amritdhari. On taking marriage vows with you, she will have broken a vow with her faith. What meaning do you take from that?
     
  5. andrew

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    Dear Randip Singh Ji, thank you.

    Yes, it would great if love could conquer all. I am not so naive as to believe that only love conquers all. However, when two people find such mutually deep and respectful partnership, there is always a way to be found. Though I am in doubt this will have its challenges.

    I referred to prayers in wanting to emphasise my respect for my partners Sikhi and its understanding thereof.
     
  6. andrew

    andrew
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    Dear Narayanot Kaur Ji,
    No nagging taken, your words are kindly received[​IMG]. This is a difficult position in which we find ourselves, and agreed that all marriages have continuous challenges, but that's what makes life what it is. And hopefully, all us better people for the experience.

    Your question is perfectly placed. It is for this reason I wanted advice and the issue of potentially breaking an element of an individuals faith. To be frank, I was hoping that there was some 'way' for a Sikh woman and non-Sikh man to be together in a way that is fully acceptable within the Sikhi faith. We will have to find a solution to this that is aceptable to all.
     
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  7. spnadmin

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    andrew ji

    Thanks for having a big spirit. I appreciate it.

    Not being an expert on this aspect of Sikh belief, I have no other guidance other than the Sikh Reyat Maryada on this topic. In the actual expanse of Sikhs living in very diverse ways, you will find a number of patterns out there in the real world. Personally I don't see how she can remain amritdhari if you do not convert to Sikhism and also seek amrit sanchar. Whether she can remain a Sikh married to a non-Sikh is a different issue. There are such examples. Most of the time, as far as I can tell from personal experience, one side or the other converts or becomes a non practicing member of his/her original faith. Some blends are easier than others. In a Hindu/Sikh marriage you may find partners attending both sangats, with one or the other predominating. I know many examples like this. Muslim/Sikh marriages are far more problematic because of the belief among muslims that they must convert non-believers. Christian/Sikh partnerships are probably somewhere in the middle, largely dependent on how adamant the Christian partner is that his/hers is the only true faith.

    That your intended is now amritdhari is what gives me pause to reflect. Your question is about more than the possibility of an interfaith marriage working out OK.
     
  8. rajneesh madhok

    rajneesh madhok India
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    Narayanjot Kaurji,
    As per your neutral stand on this topic I could not understand how Mr *****’s situation is plagued with difficulties. There are so many instances and cases that the marriages between Sikh girl and Non-sikh boy has been successful. One of the example is about the successful married life of the Former Chief Secretary, Punjab who had been appointed as Chief Information Commissioner after retirement. He had been married in a Sikh family and had a very successful married life. Harivansh Rai Bachchan-Teji Bachchan. They have not to face any sort of difficulties in married life. I hope there are thousands of cases those have been married and are living successfully, their different religions have not become hindrances in the success of their married life.
    Now the question of amritdahari and Rehat Maryada, it is forbidden as per Religious law. I have no knowledge about the prevalent traditions but as I am living in Punjab such a hard and fast rule has never come in to my knowledge till date. Though I have number of Sikh amritdhari friends.
    Narayanot Kaurji I agree to you that the marriages have continuous challenges. How can we say that the marriage within the Amritdhari family will only be successful. I put my question before you. Whether you have a single example that the marriage within Amritdhari will be 100% successful and Non-sikh it will not be. It all depends upon the cooperating nature of the couple. I am not talking about the religion but now the society is accepting the marriages of Sikh and Non-sikh man and woman. In the above mentioned case, Do you think that the marriage will not be solemnized or will not be acceptable to the girls’or boy’s family.
    I hope the marriage will be solemnized without any hindrance and the religion will not become hurdle in successful married life.
    Rajneesh Madhok
     
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  9. spnadmin

    spnadmin United States
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    rajneesh madhok ji

    When I was speaking about the "amrithari" aspect of the question asked by andrew ji all I was pointing to was the obligations taken on by someone who has taken vows of Sikh Baptism as per Sikh Rehat Maryada. If these obligations can voluntarily nullified, then what about marriage vows? An amritdhari is supposed to seek to have the spouse baptized. Now the actual wording is that a baptized man should seek to have his wife baptized, but wouldn't that apply both ways in this day and age. My concern was whether andrew would be willing to go in that direction. If not then what? It is a serious dilemma for andrew ji, his fiance, her family --- a unique obstacle is in their path before they are even married. I am not telling him what to do.
     
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    #8 spnadmin, Jul 18, 2010
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  10. rajneesh madhok

    rajneesh madhok India
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    Narayanjot Kaurji,
    However even before things happened that made me talk of destiny. At the time of Mahabharta, Lord Krishana said to Arjuna, “The destiny can not be changed”. Sikhism which was founded in Punjab in early sixteenth century by our spritual thinker Sri Guru Nanak Dev ji. Guru Nank’s garb was also part Hindu and part Muslim. What religion he belonged, his reply was: “There is no Hindu, there is no Muslim”. He traveled a lot. He took pilgrimage to Mecca and to Varanasi. Guru Nanak’s aim was to convey the message of equality and God. He freely allowed both men and women to join, without any restrictions. He told us Word of God was equally true for all, a rather evolutionary concept.
    Now we come to the point of Rahit: The Guru promulgated the Rahit (the khalsa code of belief and conduct) All those who accepted the initiation in to the Khalsa were required as an essential part of the Rahit to war the Five Ks (the panj kakke or panj kakar), so called because each of the five articles begins with the letter K. These were Kes (uncut hair), kangha (comb), kara (iron or steel wrist ring), kirpan (sword) and kachh (the pair of breeches which must not come below the knee). Male members were to add the name “Singh” (Lion) to their given name and female members were to add “Kaur” (princess) (Mcleod 53).

    Now I come to the point. Whether all Sikh families adopt Guru promulgated Rahit Maryada.

    Points as per your opinion:
    Now I am speaking about the amritdhari aspect of the question. Kindly provide the calculations how much percentage of the people are adopting Rehat Maryada. If a large percentage of the people are voluntarily nullifying the Rehat Maryada but they have full faith in Sikhism and teachings then I think that they are adopting the path of Sikhism. I just agree to you that the Amritdhari is supporsed to seek to have the spouse baptized. If it is so it is not practical, as the society moves, as described earlier that the Rehat Maryada is not being followed as per the rules framed.

    Now we come to the point of Andrew. Whether he should go in that direction or not. If Andrew and his spouse pass on their life peacefully then what is the harm to get them united. How can we say that it is a serious dilemma for Andrewji, his fiancé, her family. I don’t think that the obstacles will come in their path if Andrew and his spouse are serious and are determined with their relations. The main point in life is adjustment. One have to adjust with each other on numerous occasions, In a single day the husband and wife has to adjust numerous times.
    The point of discussion is that whether the relation will be approved or not. It is up to Andrew and his beloved. They are to decide about their future prospects.
    Regards,
    Rajneesh Madhok
     
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  11. spnadmin

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    rajneesh ji

    I understand what you are saying. I do not know how many people who are amritdhari follow the Sikh Rehat Maryada scrupulously. Truly I do not. And there are "amritdhari" who follow as they please as well. It is andrew ji and his fiance who in the end will have to consider all the issues and decide. In my personal opinion - and I am not speaking for anyone else - the decision to become baptized is very important, to become one of the knights of Guru Gobind Singh is a big step. the spiritual and moral burden at least in theory is great. These are responsibilities that only one who has taken khande de pahul can discharge. Some take it too early in life. Others take amrit under pressure to belong. Yet others act as if it is an exclusive club. That is all I can say.
     
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  12. rajneesh madhok

    rajneesh madhok India
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    If our friends are blessed with merits
    Let us share the same with them,
    And relinquish, thereby our own vices,
    Sharing their merits
    And discarding our demerits,
    Let us deck ourselves
    With the silks and embellishments of virtue
    And tread, therewith, our life’s way.
    -Guru Granth Sahib, p 765-66
    “Je gun howan saajana mili saajh karije!!
    Sajh kariije gunah keri chod awagan chaliye !!
    Pahire patanbar kari adambar aapna pitu malieye !!”

    “Lives of great men all remind us
    We can make our lives sublime
    And departing, leave behind us,
    Footprints on the sands of time.”

    Narayanjot Kaurji,
    I understand and use this phrase commonly. “Gyan baantne ke liye hota hai” The preaches are not to adopt on ourselves but to deliver”. It is a hard fact that very small percentage of amritdhari follows Sikh Rehat Maryada scruplosuly. But more than 90% we shall find on delivering lectures on the subject. Everybody is at liberty to follow the path as one likes. I agree to you that Andrewji and his fiancé should consider all the issues and decide themselves.
    Madam ot may be your personal opinion but most of the friends will second your opinion. The life partner subject is a very crucial subject of life and one has to take decision with much care. I cannot comment on the subject to become baptized. I have gone through a number of cases where husband and wife have passed their lives without baptizing to the life partner’s religion. The life partner praise to his/her religion but don’t thrust baptism on other. As you say that to become one of the knights of Guru Gobind Singh is a big step. I can’t comment on this line. The main point is that the spiritual and moral burden is theory based subject and so we can not comment on it. The moral duties and responsibilities are for the people those are sincere to their jobs and have moral character. The moral character of the people is going down day by day and the people are becoming materialistic. So, no body is sincere in discharging their moral duties. The nectar should not be taken under pressure.
    I am sorry if I have written beyond the limits. I am not a Spiritual preacher so my subject may be beyond limits.
    Regards,
    Rajneesh Madhok
     
  13. Randip Singh

    Randip Singh
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    "However, when two people find such mutually deep and respectful partnership, there is always a way to be found."

    I'm affraid my friend, that will not be enough. You will have to be realistic from the outset.

    I married (my choice), out of caste, yet we are bboth Sikh and the challenges have been horrendous.

    If you are ready to have the "elephant" in the room, whenever, your families meet, or when you have children, then by all mkeans carry on.

    If your house is not big enough to accomadate that elephant, then I suggest you get a biiger house :)
     
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  14. Lee

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    Andrew,

    It would be helpfull if you told us all where in the world you are, do you have a good relationship with her family?

    I'm in a similar relationship. Except of course I married my wife years before I converted to Sikhi, she is athiest. This causes us absolutly no problems.
     
  15. LifeWithSoul

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    Dear Andrew,
    What I have found in my personal experience is that I cannot eat my cake and still have it..thus in my soul journey to individuation and authenticity, I developed a unique set of beliefs about what was important to me as a Sikh woman. (some quarters may not allow me that freedom to call myself one) Since it was more important for me on my spiritual path and relationship with Life/God to develop a personal version of what being a Sikh meant to me, I had to give up wanting the approval of some members of the community, and the leaders or custodians of the religion. It is hard work but ultimately rewarding to choose one's unique path within the larger framework of the religion one is born in/believes in. I did my own research to satisfy myself about historical "facts" and to forge a path that felt internally authentic and not externally imposed. I have found Life/God in the authenticity of my own Self, not the rules of my religion. As one born in a staunch Sikh family I struggled to throw off the shackles of man-made and man-modified religious institution to experience the spirit and essence of the founders and makers of the Sikh way of life. It takes courage to stand apart and often alone and your partner is very lucky to find in you someone whom she can depend on for such an example of unjudgmental and unconditional love and acceptance. I wish you both all the best.
     
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  16. kds1980

    kds1980 India
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    Rajneesh ji

    almost 100% of sikh Girls that marry non sikhs end up following their husbands religion.There children take their fathers religion.You have given Example of teji and harivansh rai bachchan.Could you please tell us how much sikh she was after the marriage? How much Amitabh and his brother are sikhs?If you don't know Amitabh's name is associated in 1984 riots.Similarly Jagdish tytler too had sikh mother

    When we discuss inter religious marriages on religious forums then we have to
    keep it in mind that whether one of the partner particularly the girl is able to follow her religion after the marriage
    What religion will children take up.One can also say that marriage's of Muslim men and hindu women are highly succesful after looking at bollywood but result is same woman ended up converting in islam and children muslims
     
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  17. andrew

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    Dear Life With Soul,

    Thank you for your clearly genuine and well thought through words. I could not have put it better myself, "unjudgemental and unconditional love and acceptance".

    Sadly, the family of my partner have insisted she only marry an initiated Sikh and that this man to be ideally of Jatt caste.

    Therefore, my partner has been 'encouraged' to finish our relationship. This is something I have to [up to a point] accept; if only with the knowledge that my partner's 'happiness' may be secure.

    Of course, her 'happiness' will only be skin-deep. She will always have the experience of having to sacrifice something so personal, for the sake of her family's instruction and ultimately; social position.

    My thanks to all of you who have contributed to this discussion.
    Andrew
     
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  18. stacia

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    Oh Andrew, I understand completely. I am in a similar relationship. I thank God everyday for giving me someone who is so absolutely perfect for me, someone who I can share a deep and true love with, a life with. And I only hope that we are able to overcome all the hurdles that our vastly different backgrounds will put in our way. It's not that "we" have difficulties but rather his family and community has difficulty with the idea of "us".
    So, good luck on your life's journey. True love can conquer all if you truly believe!
     
  19. Randip Singh

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    That family and community difficulty will be the elephant in the room unless it is resolved from the outset. Elephants have a way of trampling everything in their path.

    ...and no...I no longer believe true love between two humans can conquer all, that is a myth spun by the media.
     
  20. Lee

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    Randip ji,

    It is not offten that I find myself disagreeing with you, let alone twice in one day! Hayho that is how life goes at times I guess.

    Love sir does conquer all, how can a Sikh, nay, how can anyone of religous faith belive otherwise? Are we not told time and time again in many ways by all religoins that the greatest law is to love your God and love each other as you would God?

    Why so much emphasis on love if it cannot cure all mannor of ills? My marriage life has also been up and down, as are all marriages, but we are still together and we pull together and we overcome together for love, out of love, in love because of love.
     
  21. Randip Singh

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    Note I said between two humans, because I think many people suuffer from the 12th Night Syndrom i.e. they are more in love with the idea of being IN love!
     

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