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Suddenly in Canada traditional marriage is important again

From CTV:

Ramesh Maharaj is being told by Canadian immigration official that he's not legally married to the woman he's considered his wife for the last two years.

And he's so angry, he's thinking of giving up his Canadian passport to be with her.

At issue is a traditional Hindu wedding custom that immigration officials say was not performed and therefore renders the marriage void. Maharaj says the wedding ceremony was legitimate and that his wife should be allowed to join him in Canada.

Apparently we have experts on Hindu customs in Immigration. On the face of it, everything seemed OK:

Maharaj, 54, came to Canada in 1998. Divorced and with no children, he decided to look for romance through Internet dating. There, he met Sudha Arora, a devout Hindu who lived in New Delhi. When he flew over to meet her, they made a love connection and in August of 2003, they decided to marry.

Their wedding was performed in a traditional Hindu ceremony, exchanging red and white garlands and rings before a priest.

A priest, garlands, rings -- seems very nice.

But they missed a bit:

But Canadian immigration officials say the wedding was not legitimate because it did not include a Saptapadi, a religious rite that involves having the wedding couple take seven steps around a ceremonial hearth.

How the hell did they know? I suppose Maharaj told them that they didn't do that bit when asked.

Here is what I found at one website:

The Saptapathi rites involves taking seven steps walking around the fire. According to Hindu Law codes [Yalgnavakya Smrithi], completion of the seventh step is the moment of completion of marriage for all legal purposes.

With each step, the bride and groom say something. For example, with step one:

Groom: "My beloved, our love became firm by walking one step with me. You will offer me the food and be helpful in every way. I will cherish you and provide for the welfare and happiness of you and our children.

Bride: "This is my humble submission to you, my lord . You kindly gave me responsibility of the home, food and taking charge of the finance. I promise you that I shall discharge all responsibilities for the welfare of the family and children.

So why didn't they do it?

Maharaj says not everyone chooses to include the Saptapadi in their wedding. And according to recent court rulings in India, divorced people are not required to perform that part of the ceremony, he says.

"I chose not to because this was my second marriage and in our tradition, we don't do these things on the second occasion," Maharaj explained to Canada AM.

Bottom line, if India OKed the marriage, then why are immigration officials quibbling over ceremony?

The visa officer refused the sponsorship, saying there was reason to believe Arora had married Maharaj for the sole purpose of begin brought into Canada.

Maharaj says his wife has repeatedly demonstrated to immigration officials that her love and their marriage are real.

"She was told very early on in the immigration interview process that she was not married to me and that I am not her husband. And she broke down, she fell apart. It would happen to anyone," he says.

So in Canada, we'll shred the institution of marriage and turn it into something unrecognizable and essentially devoid of meaning in order to allow homosexuals to marry, but when it comes to marriage ceremonies practiced for millennia in other countries, then we're sticklers for every last bit of tradition?

I swear, I'm living in the stupidest country on the planet.

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