A Muslim husband wants to perform a ritual for his dead Hindu wife and a temple society in a New Delhi Bengali-dominated neighbourhood has not allowed because they believe the woman was no longer a Hindu after her marriage even as she hadn’t given up her faith.
Imtiazur Rahman, who is based in Kolkata, lost her wife Nivedita Ghatak in the capital after she suffered from multiple-organ failure last week — 20 years after the couple married in accordance with the Special Marriages Act that allows inter-faith wedding of couples irrespective of their individual faith. Ghatak was cremated as per Hindu rites at Delhi’s Nigam Bodh Ghat but the family could not perform shradh — a set of Hindu rituals performed for the deceased.
Rahman, who works as assistant commissioner, commercial taxes in the West Bengal government, said he had booked an August 12 slot at Kali Mandir Society in the Bengali-dominated Chittaranjan Park after paying Rs 1,300 for the ceremony on Aug 6. But he was later told by the temple society that his booking has been cancelled “for obvious reasons”.
Ashitava Bhowmik, the president of the temple society, told IANS that Rahman’s request could not be taken up for “more than one reason”. He alleged that Rahman “concealed his identity” and made the booking in his daughter Ihini Ambreen’s name “which doesn’t sound like Arabic or Muslim”.
Bhowmik said “we got to know about his religious identity when a priest got suspicious and asked him about gotra” — the lineage which forms an important factor in determining Hindu ancestry. “Obviously, he had no answers. Muslims don’t follow gotra system. His wife can no longer be considered a Hindu after marrying the Muslim because a woman adopts the surname and belief system of her in-laws and becomes a part of that society,” Bhowmik told IANS. Unapologetically, he said, “It was done in keeping with and respecting the Hindu traditions and rites.”
Asked since it was the last wish of the woman, who followed the Hindu belief system, Bhowmik said “who knows the man has some ulterior motive and could bring in 50-100 of his relatives inside the temple and start praying Namaz” there. “What will we do in that case? Should we allow that?” he asked. Being probed further that it was only the temple society’s hypothetical fear, Bhowmik said if Rahman was too keen on performing the ritual of his wife he should do that at his home. “Why insist on a temple in Delhi? Why doesn’t he do it at his home in Kolkata?”
But Rahman countered the allegations saying faith was a personal matter for him and it had never hurt his relationship with his “practising Hindu wife” as she would perform any ritual the way she wanted and he would do it his way. “This time I wanted to do it her way because she would have wanted to me do it like that. But am not being allowed.” He has not been able to hold the shradh ritual till now.