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Thursday, June 21, 2012

Interfaith Hindu Christian wedding

The bride and groom must be admired by one and all, in this divisive world, where people have difficulty in agreeing, and difficulty in getting along – they are setting a new standard, that of respecting the otherness of other and accepting the God given uniqueness of each other. They grew up in different religious traditions, but yet, they have fallen the barriers.

Officiated by Mike Ghouse on Saturday, May 12, 2012




Specificities have been taken out including the real names for privacy. I am pleased to welcome y’all to the beautiful wedding of Betson and Preeya on this blessed day.

"There is only one cast, the cast of humanity.
There is only one religion, the religion of love.
There is only one language, the language of the heart.
There is only one God, he is omnipresent."

Jesus Christ set the example to the world through his actions; he embraced the socially rejected like the prostitutes, the lepers and others. Between him and humanity, there were no walls; Jesus wanted to redeem the lost souls.


When Moses came down from Sinai with the tablets, his unstated goal was to restore trust in the society through orderly conduct. Krishna emerged to reinstate dharma (righteousness).    Muhammad revived the message of Abraham, of one common creator and accountability for our Karma.
Buddha and Mahavira taught that one can achieve freedom through self-regulating.  Guru Nanak saw the commonalities between Hindus and Muslims on the basis of Seva (service), while Bahaullah taught the oneness of humanity.  Of course, the Native Americans also set a fine example, sharing knowledge among various tribes for the common good.
Dear creator, please accept our gratitude in every name call upon you; Manito, Yahweh, Elahi, Ishwar, Allah, Mahavira, Buddha, Wahe Guru, Ahura Mazda, mother earth and Jesus Christ.
Let me welcome you with interfaith greetings.

When you say “Hi” to the other person it has three components – acknowledgement, welcome sign, and the desire to be friends. The same idea is embedded in religious greetings. When you say “Namaste” in its most generic meaning, we are saying, let the good in you connect with the good in me, and when you say, Salaam, Shalom or peace, you are adding that may you be soaked in peace – and when you repeat that back to me, you want me to be in peace too… so, together when we connect, and the basis is peace and goodwill – whatever we do from that point - think, talk or act – it is suppose to be peaceful.

Religious greetings of Baha’i, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jain, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh, Wicca, Native Americans and Zoroastrians were recited.

It is my pleasure to officiate the wedding ceremony of Betson & Preeya per the social traditions and God as the witness.

The bride and groom must be admired by one and all, in this divisive world, where people have difficulty in agreeing, and difficulty in getting along – they are setting a new standard, that of respecting the otherness of other and accepting the God given uniqueness of each other. They  both grew up in different religious traditions, but yet, they have fallen the barriers.

The Groom is raised with the Christian traditions with his own understanding of the causer of life while the Bride is raised with Hindu traditions with her own understanding of the creator.  They are different perspectives of the same truth, when you believe that, humility embraces you, it becomes your attitude.  

Humility builds societies, arrogance destroys it. 

Traditions teach accountability, when you live a balanced life, without the burden of guilt, wrong doing and ill will – you receive the ultimate gift of freedom. The Hindu tradition calls it Mukti that is freedom from all bondages, while the Christian tradition calls it Salvation.  
We are here today, either through creation or evolution, but we are here, the life is created in pairs, and the creation has programmed the humanity with love and attraction for each other.

Now it is the responsibility of the couple to continue to accept each other as they are, without seeking the other to be different.

Then Proceedings, affirmation, acceptance, ring exchange and the announcement.

A SHORT SERMON

Love, tranquility, mercy, equity, and kindness are the hallmarks of an ideal marriage. If any of these elements decline in intensity, it becomes the duty of the husband and the wife, equally, to reflect and listen to each other in order to fully enjoy the beauty of marriage.

Once you enjoy the harmony and connection between the two, when you feel each other’s joy, each other’s pain and apprehension… neither of you feels alone, there is a sense of security and a sense of relief in it for both, you feel worthy of living and giving the joy to your spouse.  Indeed, that is what a heaven is all about. It is the freedom to be yourselves and joy to care for each other.

What is part of the nature? 

Both of you want peace and tranquility in life, that is a natural state we move towards. If there is a conflict, the bottom line for both of you is to be out of it, but the ego plays it out and you start saying things, doing things that does the opposite of what you want; that is peace.  When there is conflict, just become a listener, not aan aan, yeah yeah yeah…but an active listener showing that you really care to hear him or her out. That is what guides you out of the conflict.

Shared a short story about effective listening – my encounters with President Musharraf of Pakistan right after 9/11 in DC.

The creator or causer of the universe has created everything in pairs, in harmony and in balance.

Ssequence of the proceedings;  

·         Welcome
·         Interfaith greetings  
·         Essentials of marriage
·         Blessings from the family and friends
·         Acceptance of each other.
·         Signature
·         Ring exchange
·         Public Announcement
·         A short sermon
·         A short prayer (Generic and inclusive)

Mike Ghouse,
Officiant, Interfaith weddingsMikeGhouse is committed to building a Cohesive America and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. He is a professional speaker, thinker and a writer on pluralism, politics,civic affairsIslamIndiaIsrael, peace and justice. Mike is a frequent guest on Sean Hannity show on Fox TV, and a commentator on national radio networks, he contributes weekly to the Texas Faith Column at Dallas Morning News and regularly at Huffington post, and several other periodicals across the world. The blogwww.TheGhousediary.com is updated daily. 

About Interfaith Weddings

It is disappointing to many a religiously affiliated first-time  marrying couples when their clergy or a parent invariably insists that the other person convert to their faith tradition, some do, and some fake it and some are not comfortable with the idea at all.


When a couple is deeply committed to marry, they go ahead and get married any way but sorely miss out on the ceremony. Over the years,  I have seen too many couples miss out on the joy of that additional sense of completeness that comes with a religious ceremony.   Marriage is between two individuals, and their families and friends ought to be supporters and cheerleaders to celebrate and complete their joy.

As a Pluralist, I have chosen to officiate the weddings of such couples to reflect the essence of Bride and Groom's tradition. I laud such couples who embrace genuine humanity by  respecting the otherness of other, and accepting each other's uniqueness. If the couple prefers to please the religiosity of their parents, relatives and friends, the sermon would include reflections and essence of the faith of the couple.

I am blessed to have  performed some uniquely beautiful combination of weddings; Jewish Bride and a Christian groom; Muslim bride and Jain groom, Hindu Bride and Muslim groom,  Christians Bride and Atheist groom..... it was such a joy to see their families cheer at the end.

I had a difficult father of a Christian groom who was vehemently against the Hindu girl marrying without conversion, he did not even want to be a part of the wedding, but I felt, a good heart to heart conversation will make a dent, and it did. The man who did not talk with his son for two months and did not want to be a part of the wedding was greatful for the semblance of Christian wedding and then hung out with the kids for celebrations. Oh, there are lots of good stories to share.


By the way, officiating wedding is not my business, I do it for the joy for fulfilling the religious needs of the couples.
Mike Ghouse is a member of the American Marriage Ministries, a non-profit established in Washington State in 2009.

"We provide all people the ability to celebrate marriage and other religious functions according to their beliefs. We believe that this is an innate human right and is also protected by the 1st Amendment. Our values come from the understanding that all people, whether religious or not, have deep personal values and should be treated with respect, acceptance, and understanding."

Marriage is a celebration that brings people together, and we want to extend that ethos further by being a church comprised of a wide cross-section of people that have found common ground in the service of bringing people together.

To begin, the legal dimension to officiating a wedding simply involves completing a piece of paper, the marriage license. The marriage license is the legal document of marriage. It is filed for by the couple from their local government prior to the wedding.

The role of the minister is to conduct the wedding, have the couple present their marriage license, make sure that the information is correct, and complete the license. The couple then returns the completed license back to its office of issuance. 


Personally, Mike is committed to building a Cohesive America and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. He is a professional speaker, thinker and a writer on pluralism, interfaith, politics and civic affairs.

Mike is a frequent guest on Sean Hannity show on Fox TV, and a commentator on national radio networks, he contributes weekly to the Texas Faith Column at Dallas Morning News and regularly at Huffington post, and several periodicals across the world. The blog www.TheGhousediary.com is updated daily. Two books are poised to be released this year on Pluralism in America, and Americans Together building a cohesive America. Details at www.MikeGhouse.net

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Interfaith Weddings

One must admire the couples that marry outside their tradition, ethnicity, faith, and race. Indeed, they are doing what the spiritual masters had done for thousands of years; to fall the barriers between people, and learn to respect the otherness of other and accept the God given uniqueness of each other.

I have seen disappointments, where couples from different faiths wishing to marry were not able to do that.  Either the parents or the guardians of the religions were not comfortable with the situation and did not want to be a part of it, which we must respect.  All that the couples wanted was a touch of their own tradition and I feel their anguish and a sense of in-completion in their marriage when the tradition is not followed.  I recall a situation where a Jewish mother disowned her daughter for marrying an “infidel” Baha’i, it happens with every religion including Atheists. 

By the way, these issues are prevalent chiefly among immigrant families; however, it is not an issue with the 2nd and 3rd generation down the line.

Recently I officiated a Jain-Muslim wedding, and it was a pure delight to see the parents on both sides focused on giving their kids a sense of fulfillment that I really had to give them a hug. After the ceremony the parents were literally crying with joy, it was a beautiful moment for me to witness their heartfelt joy. I was literally taken back with the admiring looks they bestowed on me.

Here is one of the many paragraphs of the sermon. The others paragraphs dealt with specifics of each faith and their commonality of values.   

The Dharmic (Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism) religions point out that it is your Karma that determines your life path in terms of continuation of the journey after the body form collapses, into possibly a new form. The same thought is echoed in the Abrahamic (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) traditions in a different format; a life after the death – both sides prop up the idea that there is an eternal heaven, Mukti, Moksha, Nijaat or salvation from the cycles of suffering.  The interfaith (Sikh and Baha’i) religions, the independent (Zoroastrian) religion and the native traditions as well have a similar take.  It is all there, it is our arrogance that prevents us from seeing the good in others.

I just could not believe the request to officiate the weddings since then. I am happy for them that they saw the essence of each beautiful religion as I shared with them.    A Hindu-Jain, A Muslim-Catholic, and a full Muslim wedding are in the making. And today, I had a call to do, a Hindu/Agnostic wedding.  God willing, it will be a delight to be a part of happiness of others.

I am writing an article on the topic and will be including part of the sermon I gave after the main ceremony – I will be happy to share it, if you are serious and have a need for it. Please  send an email toSpeakerMikeGhouse@gmail.com . It will not be on my blog.
~ ~ ~ Mike Ghouse is committed to building a Cohesive America and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. He is a professional speaker, thinker and a writer onpluralism, politics, civic affairsIslamIndiaIsrael, peace and justice. Mike is a frequent guest on Sean Hannity show on Fox TV, and a commentator on national radio networks, he writes weekly at Dallas Morning News and regularly at Huffington post,and several other periodicals. www.TheGhousediary.com is Mike's daily blog.