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Christians dating hindus
Hindu priest Shukavak Dasa (left) gives the final blessing and presents the couple — groom Neil Bajpayee (center) and bride Stephanie Young — at the end of a wedding ceremony in Pasadena, Calif., on May 4, 2013. When Neil Bajpayee, a Pennsylvania-born Indian-American, made his vows in Sanskrit to Stephanie Young, a Californian raised in a non-religious family, he became the first member of his family to marry a non-Indian, non-Hindu. Along the way, he also became a devout practitioner of Hinduism. Decades later, weddings have become Dasa’s main business. But as South Asian communities have grown in the state, so has the demand for wedding officiants. One foot in both worlds “The Gujarati priest will work with the Gujarati community, the Punjabi priest will work with the Punjabi community, and so on like that,” Dasa said, “The typical scenario for me is, a young Hindu boy or girl goes off to college, falls in love with a Jewish, Christian or non-Hindu partner and wants to get married. Call the priest who can put one foot in both worlds.’” Dasa, who is on faculty at the Claremont School of Theology, applies classroom-teaching skills while officiating weddings, taking time to explain Hindu customs.
Dasa said that when he started out, there were few Hindu priests in California.
Dasa is willing to customize ceremonies to fit the wishes of the couple.
Bajpayee and Young, for example, asked for a shortened version of a traditional Hindu ceremony, which sometimes can last hours.
Dasa also worked with the couple to create a ceremony with more equal gender roles.
“One of the vows, literally if you translated it, was like, ‘As your wife I promise to cook you a hot meal every night,’” Young said, “I looked at it not with a lot of judgment, but I thought if I were to go through this, I wouldn’t want that.” Dasa knows not every Hindu would agree with his willingness to occasionally break traditions.
But he feels that adaptability is important for keeping millennia-old customs relevant.
Dasa, who said it took his own parents several years to feel comfortable with his conversion to Hinduism, understands some families’ hesitations about their children straying from the flock.
“I know for a fact that a Christian marrying a Hindu is not going to be as Christian and a Hindu is not going to be as Hindu, in general.
So in some ways, we’re facilitating the watering down [of faith],” Dasa said.
“But the other side of it is, we’re facilitating life.” Dasa has a wife of nearly 40 years who is also a Hindu.