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Last Updated: Tuesday, 25 May, 2004, 09:39 GMT 10:39 UK
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World Weddings: Love Converts was broadcast on BBC Two on Wednesday, 26 May, 2004.

This debate is now closed, thank you very much for your messages.

The views expressed on these pages are not necessarily the views of the BBC. The e-mails published are reflective of the balance of opinion received.


I married a Pakistani Muslim boy... I am still a practising Hindu and I have had no coercion at all into changing my name or religion
Ghayur Ahmad, United Kingdom
I wish them well but all this programme did was raise the question of why Ujjala had to convert. It is this kind of problem that causes divisions between Hindus and Muslims, and Sikhs and Muslims, in India. The programme didn't address why she was having to convert and, since the comments show that this was the major issue in the minds of the viewers, I feel the programme could have done better.
Jeevan, UK

Ujjala and Asad's love story has echoes for me. I am an Indian Hindu girl who came to the UK with no family or friends. I fell in love with, and married, a Pakistani Muslim boy. I have since been embraced wholeheartedly by his entire family and community back home in Pakistan.

I am still a practising Hindu and I have had no coercion at all into changing my name or religion. I am proud of my association with the Pakistani community here who strive hard to uphold their own sense of cultural identity and values amidst a decadent Western society.
Ghayur Ahmad, United Kingdom

My mum was brought up a Christian and my dad a Hindu; neither of them practise their religion any longer and they've been together for more than 25 years. They have brought up me and three other children. Why should you have to convert to or from ANY religion?
Marcus Shukla, Derbyshire

Good luck to them both... however, it would be very interesting to see how their life pans out. Can anyone make such a change to their life and be happy?
Geeta Patel, UK

One important question comes to mind: if Ujjala had refused to convert to Islam would Asad have accepted her as she was? I myself, born and brought up in modern society, am very disturbed to learn that Hindu girls/men have to part with their religion to be accepted in a Muslim family.
Jignesh Shah, UK

For one form of love, she sacrifices other types of love
Raj, UK
Although I wish Ujjala and Asad happiness, I think they will have their work cut out. It was wrong that Asad had to give up nothing because Ujjala was willing to convert. Being a Hindu was a big part of her identity and she will, in her heart of hearts, never be able to give that up. It was fairly obvious in the documentary that when she had to say her marriage vows in her new Muslim name, this was very difficult for her. Asad should not have put her under such pressure. She did not convert to Islam for the right reasons.

It is possible to marry in India in a civil ceremony, so why did Asad not give up his family also and then they could have got married this way without having to bring religion into it? I think the small things will keep reminding Ujjala of the sacrifices she has had to make to be with the man she loves, but I only hope Asad keeps reminding himself of this and treats Ujjala with the love and respect she deserves.
RP, UK

All the best to both of them. By changing her religion to Islam, she has also, in my view, abandoned her own religion which has been her source of strength up to now. So, she loves Asad. What about her love for her religion, parents and extended family which helped before converting? For one form of love, she sacrifices other types of love. Was it really necessary to change camps instead of enjoying the best of both worlds?
Raj, UK

I am an English atheist married to a Mauritian Asian Hindu. If my wife believes, then that's fine by me. I was even happy to go through an Indian wedding for her parents' sake, since my wife was the first in the family to "marry out". I get on fine with my in-laws, especially my mother and father-in-law. The reaction from her siblings was mixed but they have mostly accepted the idea.

Interestingly, the only hassle we have had was from Asians. My family (skinheads included!), my friends, workmates etc. just took it all in their stride. The only time we have argued is over what religion the children are brought up as. They are very aware of their Asian/Hindu heritage but they will decide themselves at some point - that was the compromise. Devout, extreme religious people seem to be the ones who can't think for themselves in my experience.
Jon, UK

These are historical prejudices that are based on what happened in India centuries ago
Monica, UK
I disagree with Ujjala's decision simply because she had to convert her religion. She should have been accepted as she is. I have no problem with them getting married if this issue was resolved.
Mon, UK

I am a British Sikh woman and I know I would face strong disapproval for marrying a Muslim, on the basis that I would have to convert. These are historical prejudices that are based on what happened in India centuries ago. And I think this is why Sikhs in particular would never willingly want their son or daughter to marry a Muslim. The comments made by Ujjala's father on the marriage are commonly held views in many Sikh and Hindu families, and I have heard them while growing up.

My extended family has several inter-racial and inter-religious marriages: I have a Chinese Buddhist aunt, a white Christian cousin-in-law and a black Christian uncle. These are more acceptable and welcome additions to my extended family than ever marrying a Muslim would be. It is ironic that Sikhs, Muslims, Christians and Jews are united by the belief in that there is one true God, but not the way in which to worship God and practice this worship. I don't see these views changing in the foreseeable future, unless we teach tolerance to our children.
Monica, UK

It is not Ujjala's parents who should be shamed but Asad's for not respecting their son's wishes and Ujjala's beliefs.
Iain, Wales

Most of these e-mails are missing the point. I am a Hindu and like most Hindus, accept mixed marriages. I have no problem with Hindu-Muslim marriages. I do have a problem with conversion though. No-one should have to sacrifice their upbringing.
Sunil Bedi, UK

I thought it was absolutely disgraceful. Is a man who you're in "love" with really worth losing your family, beliefs and life for? Ujjala's mother and father brought her up and she reduced them to tears and shame.
Mya, Birmingham, UK

I was so moved by this documentary. I was horrified at the actions of the bride's family. At the end of the day, you can't help who you fall in love with. I would really like to see a follow up on the marriage to see how they are coping, and to see how Ujjala is coping now that she has to follow the Islamic religion. Also to see how her family now feel and whether they are in contact with her.

We have to learn how to live with each other harmoniously otherwise we will never live in peace.
Toral, Wales

What is religion, a crutch for those who need it to lean on it? It is the cause of more trouble than anything else, with all faiths trying to impose their will on others.
Ronnie, England

People need to ask themselves a question. Is family pride more important than personal gain? If you agree then I'm afraid it's a very selfish view.

At the end of the day it's your religion which separates you from one another and not your colour.
SJA, UK

Putting the "needs" of a mythical being over those of your life partner is a recipe for disaster.
Emma, US
I am a Roman Catholic and my wife is a Methodist. Prior to the wedding there was a lot of objection made on religious grounds.

A priest pointed out that marriage is a basic human right. No religion can dictate who marries who. Freedom of choice is essential for the survival of the species!
Norman Todd, England

I honestly don't care about people's religion if they aren't hurting anybody. If they love each other then religion doesn't matter; they should be able to marry in peace.
Phil McCauley, Paisley

Faith and love are both intensely personal and something that everyone feels about strongly. I find a lot of people here feeling that Ujjala shouldn't have converted to Islam, but I think it is their right to make their own decisions without anyone else telling them what's right and what's wrong. I wish them all the best.
KH, India

Two generations of my family went through acrimony, abuse and divorce due to conflicting religious beliefs. I am now a humanist, and would advise my son not to involve himself with someone who was a devout follower of ANY religion.

Putting the "needs" of a mythical being over those of your life partner is a recipe for disaster. I wish this couple well, but fear that future disillusionment and resentment are not as remote a possibility as they may now believe.
Emma, US

Islam forbids forced conversions, if Ujjala didn't convert willingly by accepting Islam to be the true faith then in fact she is fooling everyone including herself about being a Muslim. In this case I think it's more the culture which forces Ujjala to convert. I think it's not religions that clash and cause wars but cultures and there's a very big difference between the two.
Ash, UK

If he really loved her, she would not have had to convert, and shame on Asad for making someone he "loves" convert.
Laylaa, Lebanon

I am the product of an interfaith marriage and I feel they don't work. I grew up religiously confused because my mother could not accept my father's religious ideology.
Diane, UK

Religion is the very root of so many conflicts in the world throughout our history. Interestingly enough this Hindu/Muslim conflict sounds similar to the Catholic/Protestant conflict centuries ago that contributed to the 100 years war.

It doesn't matter how much religious conflict exists, in the end no one wins. I think understanding, tolerance and acceptance of other religions is what we need, not conflict.
Mark, Canada

I wish Asad and Ujjala happy marital life. Conversion or no conversion they are together now. That is what both of them wanted in the first place, and they got it at last. I prayed for their happy union and successful life together.
Babs Kadri, UK

There is nothing wrong with mixed religion marriages. The only thing wrong is when one person has to convert to the other's religion and this usually has to be the female. No one should be asked to change their religion just so they are able to marry someone they love. The religion you are is a part of your identity and who you are, and you should not have to change it.
Bal, UK

My future husband is Muslim and I am Christian. We feel happy in our decision to marry.
Amanda, UK
There isn't a God. People from different faiths are just labouring under different delusions. Let them get on with it.
John Sells, UK

I am the product of an interfaith marriage and I feel they don't work. I grew up religiously confused because my mother could not accept my father's religious ideology. It undermined my respect for both of them. Whilst I strongly believe in God, I feel that people are more important than religion and the actual (and in a lot of cases) corrupt religious institutions of this world.

I feel that children need to be raised with a viewpoint of tolerance, but also harmony and unity, especially between their parents, their beliefs, their communities and then the world at large.
Diane, UK

My future husband is Muslim and I am Christian. We feel happy in our decision to marry. Our future children will make their own decision which religion they wish to pursue. Neither of us sees our marriage as illegal or a problem. Outsiders may... but that is their problem, not ours. We are happy. There are enough other problems in life to worry about than this. I wish the couple well in their marriage.
Amanda, UK

I empathise with Ujjala as I was in a similar situation. I am Christian and I refused to give in to my fiancée's family demands that I convert (they are Muslims). I think at the end of the day, your head should rule your heart and God must come first.
Ivy Osar, Nigeria

I can fully appreciate what the couple must have had to go through. I also went through a long period of separation before being able to marry the one I love. However, we were lucky and both families eventually reconciled and now the problem is a thing of the past. It never ceases to amaze me just how strong the power of love is. Surely that must give us some hope in this desperate world of ours.
Tony, UK

The marriage between a Muslim and a Hindu is invalid. If the two people wed their marriage is unacceptable.
Ahmad, London

I think there are many more cases of women having to convert than men
Elyse, UK

I'm a Hindu married to a Muslim and we are fine and have two children. I think religion is more important from a child's point of view, as they need an identity.
Nishma, UK

I don't think Ujjala's conversion is the problem here but the fact that it was Islam she converted to. Being a Sikh woman I understand the problems. The problem here is more a difference in culture. I'm sure God doesn't look down at us and see Muslims, Jews, Sikhs, and so on. He sees us all equally.
Jess Nandhra, England

It's definitely a man's world out there. In Malaysia inter-racial marriages are scarce too, even though it is a multi-racial country. I think there are many more cases of women having to convert than men.
Elyse, UK

In my 60 years of life, I have observed that the more powerful a religion is, the more people suffer.
Terry Byatt, England

Many people have asked why Ujjala has to sacrifice her religion to get married. According to Islam, it's not permissible for a Muslim to marry a non-Muslim unless he/she converts, otherwise any sexual relations - even between husband and wife - between different faiths would be deemed as adultery.
Mirza Raushan, Minneapolis

I chose not to give up my religion or my family in order to be accepted by my partner's family
AG, India

I believe India would benefit from many of these inter-religion marriages. That is probably the best way to remove the Hindu-Muslim rift. However, a general acceptance would only be possible, if conversion is not involved. If two people love each other then accepting each other's religious beliefs is real proof of that love!
GS, France

As an Hindu who is going to marry a German Roman Catholic, I can understand the story of Asad and Ujjala. Thankfully our families have been very supportive. Ujjala needn't have converted. They could have just decided to bring up their children as Muslims.
Satya Prakash Dash, Norwich

While I am thrilled they both ended up together, I am mad that Ujjala had to convert to be accepted by his family. I was in the same situation a year ago, and I chose not to give up my religion or my family in order to be accepted by my partner's family.
AG, India

What kind of love is it that starts with a conversion? To me, it doesn't seem like love won, but more like love lost out to the pressures of society.
G. Muralikrishna, USA

I appreciate this marriage but am really sorry that, for this, the family is paying a high price.
Tapu Shikder, Bangladesh

The girl has lost her family already and now she loses her religion
Shahnaz Ahemed, USA
I am an Indian Muslim and I understand how hard it can be for both the families (more so for the bride's family) when a Muslim marries a Hindu.

I have a cousin myself who married a Hindu girl but, just as in the case of Ujjala, she too had to convert to Islam before her marriage. Now this is one thing I find very hard to understand. I mean it is okay if the girl wants to convert of her own will but, if she had to convert just to gain the acceptance of her in-laws, then I would say shame on the boy/man who let this happen.

The girl has lost her family already and now she loses her religion. This kind of relationship is based on sacrifice and understanding and alas it all falls on the girl and her family. I wish this could change during my lifetime.

My heartfelt wishes to Ujjala and Asad. May all their dreams come true - Amen.
Shahnaz Ahemed, USA

Ujjala and Asad - an incredible story indeed. Perhaps in the Western world it cannot be imagined but in India it is a reality. We are in the 21st Century. And it is not only with religion: we have various taboos about marriage even with castes and class. It is unfortunate that the same thing occurs among the highly educated and rich families.

I must encourage young boys and girls to think well with their heads, not from their family traditions; think about their rights, not to be selected by their parents; think about love not about class, caste or religion; think about dignity not about dowry.
Somnath Naha, Bolivia (Indian citizen)

I am afraid I found the report extremely simplistic
Indra Sengupta, Germany/India
As a Hindu living in Guyana, I could empathise with Ujjala. But I am bitter because in all of the cases which I know, when a Hindu woman has to marry a Muslim man, she has to convert and, whilst that might be her choice, I know that Islam is supposed to be clear on the purpose of conversion. Why couldn't they be married and each be allowed to retain their religions - as they practised them?
Vidyaratha Kissoon, Guyana

I am afraid I found the report extremely simplistic in that it focuses purely on the ethnic difference component of the story, instead of taking into account related defining criteria such as class and education levels of the families involved. As a result it reinforces old prejudices about Hindu-Muslim enmity in India.

There's no doubt that such enmities do exist. And it is common knowledge that, when it comes to marriage or partnerships, mistrust among ethnic communities raises its ugliest face. But it's been my experience that such mistrust is not an Indian or South Asian monopoly.

Several of India's political leaders, actors and other professionals are living in Hindu-Muslim marriages. Why is it that Ujjala and Asad make news as "The Indian Love Story" and the others don't?
Indra Sengupta, Germany/India

What is really upsetting in this entire episode is that the woman had to give up her family and religion to be accepted in his family. It doesn't matter that she was a Hindu and he was a Muslim. As a woman, she was expected to give in to her husband's beliefs. She gave up her family for him. He should have done the same and both should have kept their own faith. But it shows again... it's a man's world!
Kanak, India

This young couple's nine-year struggle to be together, and the resultant family disruption, is a damning indictment and example of the harm religion can cause. I respect anyone's right to faith and belief but when carried to such rigid extremes as in this case, it truly demonstrates that the God these families worship is not one of love, compassion or inclusion. If there is a God, he/she must weep daily at what those who profess to believe in him/her do unto others in his/her name.
Pat Weyman, Canada

As an Indian, I can feel the pain that Ujjala has gone through. Hats off to her for taking this difficult decision. Asad should have supported her, by not asking her to convert. That would have reduced the hurt to her family. In the end, the man's family wins - the woman's family loses. So typically Indian.
SMF, India

Indeed, this is an emotional story where the love of two persons has passed the test of time. Religion was no barrier, but what saddens me is that Ujjala converted to Islam. Couldn't Asad love her as a Hindu woman? There may be love, but is there tolerance - tolerance that the loved one is different? Real love is accepting the other as he/she is. What did Asad see when he looked at Ujjala during those nine years of struggling? The woman he loves or a Hindu woman?
Zeke, Montpellier, France

Prejudice and parochialism are not unique to India
Nachiket, USA
A few questions come to mind: If Asad was in so much love with Ujjala, why didn't he convert and become a Hindu? Why did Ujjala and her family have to compromise and suffer, while nobody on Asad's side made any adjustments? It seems clear that for Ujjala her love was bigger than her religion and family, but for Asad his family and religion was bigger than his love.
Raj Aryan, India

I found the story typical of the selective reporting the Western press practices when it comes to India. I know several examples of inter-faith marriages where the parents have happily supported their children's choices. I am from a Hindu family while my brother-in-law is Roman Catholic and my parents never considered that a reason for opposing the marriage. Prejudice and parochialism are not unique to India.
Nachiket, USA

I am happy to read about a couple, madly in love, who finally get married. But I have one concern: if Asad loved her so much, why was it important to convert? Why didn't he convert to Hinduism?
Charu, USA

Quite sad that they should have gone through so many troubles, but they're not the only ones... homosexuals, for instance, deal all their lives with the hatred and disapproval of society and relatives, just because they want what everyone else wants: love.
Abraham Louw, South Africa



SEE ALSO:
India: Modern love versus old taboo
25 May 04 |  This World


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