Culture Clash


Mr. Jinit Shah, Author of the Article argues that inter-racial Marriages can be risky in the long term


We had a discussion about inter-racial marriages in school and I wasn't really surprised at the outcome. The majority of people voted for inter -racial marriages and the minority said they were against. After all, Jainism does specify that everyone is equal right?

This is one of the few questions that Jainism does not have an explicit answer to. In fact, there is no written evidence in Jainism to state that you should not marry outside your culture. So what  is the big deal we make about marrying into our culture? I mean, why is it that most of our parents and our ancestors are Jains? What made them think that what they were doing, was right? The answer lies in a different approach to the question. It is by no means wrong to marry someone who is not a Jain, after all, Jainism does not discriminate. However, the real question that a lot of the younger generation forget today is how long the marriage can be sustained?

Marriage is about two souls that can see deep within each other, to understand and to love. These two souls should only part from each other at the time of death of one partner and never before. Marriage is for life. So why is it that we hear of so many separations and divorces? Evidence suggests that one in three marriages end up in divorce. A high proportion of those marriages that do not succeed are inter-racial marriages. You are probably wondering, "So what, I know I can make a go of it"! Well yes, maybe you can but for how many people will it work? Again, some Jains will argue that you can be just as unhappy marrying a Jain. Why is it that divorce was practically unheard of thirty years ago among our aunts, uncles and parents, but is not uncommon today?

The answers lie in our culture. By marrying a Jain, you automatically have an understanding and tolerance level that is quite profound. The two of you are from similar backgrounds and are more likely to have a similar way of thinking. Therefore you can understand each other better and not sign the divorce papers at the first hurdle, like so many marriages do. What bond you have with someone who is a Jain is more likely to be long term.

Many of us who read Jain Spirit are young Jains going to school or university. Marriage is probably the last thing we would think of. I personally think that it is very important to maintain Jain culture for prolonged happiness. Nothing in life is guaranteed so of course there will be the few exceptions. By no means are we discriminating against other cultures when se say. "I'm going to marry a Jain". We are merely thinking what is best for our self and our neighbour. This can all be applied to other cultures as well and by sharing our thoughts, as one big family, I hope we can have a very jubilant future together.

Mr. Jinit Shah is a student at Haberdashers Aske's school in London and a member of Jain Assembly Committee at this school.



Source : From Jain Spirit, Non Profit International Quarterly Publication from London.


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