Provisions for such marriages
- The Special Marriage Act, 1954 (SMA) was enacted to facilitate the marriage of couples professing different faiths, and preferring a civil wedding.
- However, some practical problems arise in registering such marriages.
- The law’s features on prior public notice being given and objections for the safety and privacy of those intending to marry across religions.
- To overcome this, many settle for marriage under the personal law of one of them, with the other opting for religious conversion.
A number of studies conducted by research scholars have found that interfaith marriages have limited impact on society at large. For instance, students and faculty of the Central Government-run International Institute for Population Sciences had presented a paper on interfaith marriages in India in 2013 by analysing data from the “India Human Development Survey (IHDS) data, 2005” to explore the extent of mixed marriages in India.
The study suggests that 2.21 per cent of all married women between the age of 15-49 had married outside their religion. The proportion of inter-religious marriages is highest at 2.8 per cent among the women of the young age group (15-19) than other age groups which decrease with increasing age at marriage with 2.3 per cent for those in the age group 20-24, 2 per cent for 25-29 and 1.9 per cent for those above 30. Interreligious marriages are greater among the women living in urban areas at 2.9 per cent compared to 1.8 per cent for rural areas.
Punjab has the highest mixed marriages at 7.8 per cent. This high number is attributed to the somewhat similar religious customs and practices followed by Sikhism and Hinduism. Jharkhand at 5.7 per cent and Andhra Pradesh at 4.9 per cent also have a high proportion of mixed marriages. The lowest percentage of mixed marriages are in Bengal at 0.3 per cent, Chattisgarh 0.6 per cent and Rajasthan 0.7 per cent.