As Haters Shout “Love Jihad”, this Story of Indo-Pak Lesbian Couple is Giving Everyone Hope

Social Commentary

As Haters Shout “Love Jihad”, this Story of Indo-Pak Lesbian Couple is Giving Everyone Hope

Illustration: Reynold Mascarenhas

For almost an entire week, most of the discourse on Indian social media has revolved around interfaith marriages. The reason for this is an advertisement by the jewellery company, Tanishq, which depicted a Hindu bride being welcomed into a Muslim family. Though the ad was wholesome in its message, religious fundamentalists and right-wing voices were outraged, as it fed their imagined fear of “love jihad”. Groups of men even began turning up at Tanishq stores across the country to protest, and continue to do so even after the company withdrew the ad. In response, many interfaith couples came forward to share their own, positive, real-world experiences of the institution.

In the process, many heartwarming stories came to light. Couples from different faiths who had come together despite their differences. One story was especially inspiring for how it transcended not just religion, but borders and cultural barriers as well. An Indo-Pakistani lesbian wedding is something that would have been impossible for previous generations, but we live in a world where that is possible. In 2019, Colombian-Indian Christian Bianca Maieli married Pakistani Muslim Saima Ahmad in a ceremony in California, USA.

Photos of the wedding ceremony went viral. In a single frame, the lesbian couple smashed multiple taboos. Maieli wore the attire of a traditional Indian bride, replete with jewellery, and Ahmad came sharply dressed in a black sherwani and golden glasses. Their story, which was shared widely across the internet at the time of their wedding in December last year, was revisited in the wake of the Tanishq ad controversy.

“Love conquers all” might seem like a romantic, idealistic phrase, but there are many real-world examples like Maieli’s and Ahmad’s that prove it to be true. Though there are forces that seek to prevent it, there are many stories like theirs that show an interfaith marriage can be a beautiful thing.