WHEN LOVE TRUMPED RE­LI­GION

Hindustan Times (Gurgaon) - City - - LIFESTYLE -

Mon­ica Singh and Mustafa Nouri met while study­ing in the US. “I was 18 and Mustafa, who’s fam­ily is from Afghanistan, was 20. When I brought him home, the re­sponse was not pos­i­tive. My mother comes from an or­tho­dox Brah­min fam­ily, and my fa­ther is a Sikh who went through Par­ti­tion, so re­li­gion was a prob­lem,” says Mon­ica. The cou­ple is now mar­ried for 22 years, are par­ents to two teenagers and have shifted base to In­dia. How did they over­come the strug­gle? With the help of Mon­ica’s un­cle, ac­tivist Swami Ag­nivesh, “My sis­ter said, “Never!” He is a Mus­lim, my daugh­ter can’t stay with him. I told her, call him home for tea. Well, they ended up calling him mul­ti­ple times, and fell in love with the boy! Truth, love, com­pas­sion and jus­tice —these uni­ver­sal val­ues are above ev­ery­thing else,” says Swami ji. For Mustafa, it takes more than love. “There was never a mo­ment when I had mis­giv­ings about my de­ci­sion to marry Mon­ica. It is com­pat­i­bil­ity in thoughts and out­look that mat­ters. Re­li­gious dif­fer­ence was of lit­tle sig­nif­i­cance for us,” he says. “Once you take off the stereo­type, you re­alise that a per­son is a per­son! I go to the gu­rud­wara, I have a lit­tle mandir at home, and, when it’s Eid, my hus­band likes to take the kids to the mosque. Mu­tual re­spect is the key,” says Mon­ica.

Swami Ag­nivesh

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