Advice: The Registrar Did Not Accept Our Marriage (Foreigner & Indian)

Dear Lauren, When I got married in Kerala we had a temple ceremony and we got a piece of paper from the temple that we are married. We were told that in Kerala there is no law right now that would allow foreigners to get married to Indians. After the ceremony we took the piece of paper to the registry office to get our marriage certificate. The Registrar did not accept our application and advised us to go to court and sue Kerala province.

I am trying to sponsor my husband to come to Canada and our lawyer advised us that we have to be legally married. So I am wondering what was your experience? How did you get legally married? 

Anonymous Reader

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Congratulations on your marriage, I’m sorry the legal aspect didn’t go smoothly!

It is my understanding that a foreigner and an Indian must get legally married under the Special Marriage Act (1954), not the Hindu Marriage Act (which you have described), even if the foreigner identifies as a Hindu.

That’s what we did.

We decided it would be a good idea to hire a lawyer because our situation was so different. There was no religious aspect to our civil marriage. We had to go to the registry office to submit a notice of intended marriage, along with our documents and three witnesses (read more about that here). After thirty days, as no one objected to our marriage, we returned to the registry office to make our declaration and received our marriage certificate (details of that are here).

My advice would be to try to get married under the Special Marriage Act (1954) with the assistance of an experienced lawyer. Good luck!

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You’ve Made the Wrong Choice

If you are open about your life, you will undoubtedly receive a whole heap of unsolicited advice. Most is from a kind or concerned place, sent with love and good wishes, and I send abundant appreciation for that advice, even if I don’t always choose to follow it. Then, of course, there are the moral policers who are waiting to say “you’re wrong” or “you’ve made a bad choice”.

There are several things in life which are undoubtedly wrong, hurting people or inaccurate math for example, but the things I’ve been criticised for, told I should change immediately, are my personal choices. Life is complex, nuanced, layered and everyone is different. What is wrong for you, might be right for me and vice versa. I believe that people should have a choice. If everyone followed the same life path, life would be pretty boring (and kind of cult-ish).

Wouldn’t it?

It’s not only my choice in husband or my choice in home I’ve been told is wrong. It’s my choice to learn from and experience my husband’s culture and religion. I would say to anyone with the opportunity to experience another culture or travel to a distant land, grab it by the horns! You don’t have to change who or what you are, but seeing life from a different perspective will inevitably open your eyes and shed your preconceptions. You don’t always need a plane ticket to broaden your mind, simply stepping out of your comfort zone can trigger an inner revolution.

When I was younger, I really wanted to be religious and have faith, and I was kind of jealous of those who did. I yearned to know an absolute truth, I wanted a guaranteed, tried and tested, path. I spent several years reading about Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism and Kabbalah. Some parts felt intrinsically right, others didn’t. I’ve since come to peace with the fact that I don’t fit into a religious label. I’ve realised that if God was powerful enough to create a universe, surely s/he would be able to lay out more than one path towards her/him. I have learnt that for me to feel aligned with something higher, I need to stay close to things that make my soul sing.

I remember in school, we had to do a test to discover our learning style, whether we learnt best by hearing, seeing or doing. The teachers recognised that we all learn in unique ways, they used the results of the test to customise their teaching to maximise our potential. I think this applies to life, we are all unique, following different paths. Sometimes we make mistakes, we learn through trail and error, but it is our unique path, our choice.

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About Nagpur

I think it was the third time I flew to India, I was about to step on the plane when the woman checking boarding passes (who worked for Air India) asked if Nagpur was in India. I think she had to check that everyone on the flight had a valid Indian visa if India was their final destination. Nagpur is rarely in the news and I guess it is kind of small. Many people I know have never heard of the place. Seeing as I write about my life in Nagpur, I think it’s about time I dedicated a post to the orange city, so you can become better acquainted.

city of orangesNagpur is the geographical center of India, it’s smack bang in the middle, and famous for it’s sweet oranges and extreme summers. The biggest disadvantage of living in Nagpur (in my mind) is the debilitating heat from April to June. Whenever I mention Nagpur to anyone who does know the place, this is what they usually bring up… the sweltering temperatures!

I have heard Nagpur be described as a city sized village on several occasions. I guess there must be a bit of truth to it, McDonald’s hasn’t descended yet, it’s pretty quiet and everyone seems to know each other. The majority of women wear a saree everyday, most people prefer to buy food from the market over the supermarket and foreigners are a rare sight. I assume Nagpur hasn’t changed very much in the last couple of years, which I find charming (and, sometimes frustrating).

vegetable wallah

lotus lake inspiration

horse-on-its-way-to-a-wedding

There are not many obvious tourist attractions here, but the city is very green, has several lakes and hundreds of beautiful temples to discover. If I wake up early and take a walk, I see ladies drawing rangoli on freshly washed doorsteps, cows being milked and children holding hands as they walk to school. There is a strong feeling of community, the entire city comes out to celebrate festivals together, it feels like everyone gets involved.

funny ganesh

Nagpur Ganesh

Due to the central location of the city, there are people settled here from across India, so there are many cultures, many festivals and many tongues. Most people speak Marathi, even if their roots are in another state. It wasn’t long until I started to recognise the different districts. The British built government building of Civil lines, the artisan workshops of Chitaroli, the bustling market of Birdi and the jungles of Seminary Hills.

If you step out of the city, you are greeted by rural Maharashtra; bullocks pulling ploughs, orange groves and jungles where tigers dwell. Nagpur is also known as the tiger capital of India, there are a couple of beautiful nature reserves close by, where we were lucky enough to see a tiger along with many other beautiful creatures.

This is my home, a small city with a lot of sunshine.

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