I got out of the habit of regularly posting while helping to arrange my daughter’s wedding. I thought I would start to get into the posting habit again by writing about my daughter’s wedding from the perspective of a Hindu arranging a non-Hindu Wedding.
Before becoming a Hindu I was a Unitarian for a while (see “How I became a Hindu – part two“), and my daughter had always wanted a Unitarian wedding in a Chapel in Great Hucklow, where she had attended Unitarian events at “The Nightingale Centre” as a child. She knew a Unitarian minister who carried out the service. The whole wedding was a great success, with the centre enabling members of both families from all over the country to get together. What I want to write about in this post though is my thoughts about Hindusim and Unitarianism following this event.
If you are familiar with Unitarianism you can skip this section.
Unitarianism was originally a branch of Christianity that claimed that “God is one”. Traditional Unitarians did not believe in the Christian trinity, and saw Jesus as a human teacher rather than divine. They were similar to Jehovah’s Witnesses in this respect. However modern Unitarians have taken an ultra-liberal approach, whereas Jehovah’s Witnesses still hold fundamentalist beliefs.
Though there are still many “Christian Unitarians”, all modern Unitarians hold that belief that “Everyone has the right to seek truth and meaning for themselves“. It is a creedless religion, respecting all creeds. Beliefs of individual members in the traditional Christian Unitarians, the pagan “Earth Spirit Network“, and atheists and agnostics. Unitarians are also non-evangelical, in that they don’t try to convert anyone to their beliefs.
The Unitarian Wedding
We had people with many different beliefs at the Wedding, Hindu, Christian, Buddhist, agnostic, as well as some “Strong Atheists“. The Unitarian ceremony was ideal for this, as it allowed everyone to understand the marriage in their own terms, whether they were from a religious perspective or as a secular right of passage. As Unitarianism encompasses so many beliefs the ceremonies do not assume a single worldview. The Minister, John Harley, made this a very moving and memorable ceremony, which was appreciated by everyone – I had several people tell me how good it was.
So – if the Unitarian Ceremony was so good – why am I no longer a Unitarian?
Unitarianism is intellectually very appealing. It places a lot of emphasis on everyone finding their own path. Also many Unitarians are very nice people, with a lot of concern for others. Certainly Unitarianism performs a very useful role when people of different faiths do come together. Why then am I not a Unitarian?
For me Unitarianism tends to speak to me only on the intellectual level, and not the spiritual. I think it is telling that in the week before the wedding I went and prayed at our Mandir to Ganesha for the success of the ceremony, and went to thank him afterwards. I prayed to Shiva & Parvati for the future of the married couple. I brought my murtis and mala beads to the venue and carried out japa and simple puja.
Even so, it would be quite possible to be a Unitarian and follow Hindu beliefs. There are Unitarians who are influenced by Hindu beliefs, and even people who identify themselves as Unitarian Hindus. Why don’t I do that then?
For me Hinduism is my spiritual home. Though I appreciated that the parashiva is everywhere, it is much more tangible in the Hindu Mandir. I would not expect to see someone spontaneously outpouring devotion in a Unitarian chapel, though in the mandir I have seen people exclaim “Jai Shri Ram!“, “Govinda!“, or “Om Shivaya Namaha!“. And of course there is my lineage, the Nandinatha Sampradaya, and its teachings. Whereas some people may excel in following a creedless path and finding their own way, there is the risk of going round in circles. The masterful writings of gurudeva give a clear guide to a well-trodden pathway.
So I conclude that Hinduism is my home and my path. I love Unitarians, and I welcome the service they bring to those of different faiths. I appreciate and respect that they don’t try to convert others. However I am not a Unitarian, I am a Hindu.