In a popular comedy clip in a Tamil movie, actor Vadivelu, blood oozing from an injury on his forehead, walks down the street when a bystander asks him, “Why is there tomato chutney on your face?” Angry that his pain has been made light of thus, Vadivelu lands a punch on the person’s nose, drawing blood. “Oh God, blood,” cries the offender, as he covers his face. “If you are hurt it is blood, but if I am hurt it is tomato chutney? Is it?” Vadivelu retorts, before stomping off.
Though somewhat facetious, the scene comes closest to explaining how Indian society reacts to inter-faith marriages: a cause of celebration so long as one’s near relatives are not involved. A Hindu acquaintance marrying a Muslim girl deserves to be applauded as another example of India’s inclusive culture, a triumph of love over religion. But god forbid, if one’s brother or daughter chooses a partner outside his/her religion, reactionary shutters come down fast and angry. It is tomato chutney for others, but blood for us. And it’s true for all religions.