Love takes time, mutual respect, admiration, attraction, and a never-ending discussion about what to eat and what to watch. What it doesn't take are illogical, socially-constructed barriers of religion, ethnicity, caste, etc. 

And it's the love stories that break these barriers that become our modern-day fairytales. Stories like the kind that Instagram account, India Love Project, shares. 

Founded by Priya Ramani, Samar Halarnkar & Niloufer Venkatraman, the account shares personal accounts of people who married for love - the reason that ultimately, matters the most: 

BAKHTAWAR MASTER & S VENKATRAMAN

Bakhtawar and Venkatraman gave up their family's approval for marriage, but not their individual identities or religious belief. The two raised three children and taught them to be proud of both of their identities. Married for 30 years, they continue to support inter-faith unions. 

Throughout their long partnership of 31 years, each followed their own religion. They refused to attend a wedding if they knew dowry was part of the deal. And they fervently supported other inter-faith marriages and adoptions; several of these unions and celebrations took place right in our home.
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BAKHTAWAR MASTER & S VENKATRAMAN By @niloufervenk I was eight when I asked my parents why a schoolteacher had called me “mongrel”, a word I’d heard used only for dogs before. That’s when I first heard their story. In 1954, my Parsi mother, Bakhtawar Master, was studying at St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai, and regularly volunteered at the institution’s Social Service League. There she met another volunteer, S. Venkatraman, a Hindu-Tamilian man, nine years older, who worked for an airline. They fell deeply in love. He had no immediate family. Her huge family disapproved. Four years later, on the morning of 9th May 1958, when 24-year-old Bakhti left home for work she told her mother she wasn’t returning that night. She and Rami married under the Special Marriage Act that day. My parents intentionally gave their three children Parsi first names and a Tamilian last name — they said we should be “proud of both identities”. Throughout their long partnership of 31 years, each followed their own religion. They refused to attend a wedding if they knew dowry was part of the deal. And they fervently supported other inter-faith marriages and adoptions; several of these unions and celebrations took place right in our home. PHOTOS #1 S Venkatraman and Bakhtawar Master #2 After 25 years together #3 They hosted several interfaith unions at their house. _________________________________. #love #couplegoals #india #interfaith #vintage

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NATASHA BADHWAR & MIRZA AFZAL BEG

Afzal has a new story to share, every time someone asks him about how he and Natasha met. But the love the two share, for each other, and their families, including the army of 3 children, 1 dog, and 4 cats, feels as old as time itself. 

My father likes him very much and complains to him when I don’t pick up his phone. His father and I giggle together because no one else appreciates our jokes, but we know they are super funny. I married Afzal because he has twinkling eyes and listens to my long-winded stories. He probably married Natasha yani ki me because I am sexy as hell though he’s been too shy to ever let me know this.
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NATASHA BADHWAR & MIRZA AFZAL BEG By @natashabadhwar Sometimes he tells people we met in a bar where I was the bartender. 🍾 In another version he claims our parents were friends and they fixed our match. We had no say in the matter. 🤦🏽‍♀️ When he is in a mood, he will say I chose him because I wanted to rebel against my father by marrying a Muslim. 🧎🏽 My father likes him very much and complains to him when I don’t pick up his phone. His father and I giggle together because no one else appreciates our jokes, but we know they are super funny. I married Afzal because he has twinkling eyes and listens to my long winded stories. He probably married Natasha yaniki me because I am sexy as hell though he’s been too shy to ever let me know this. 🤩 💛 We have 3 children, 1 dog and 4 cats last we counted. We met at a party hosted by common friends, live together best on a highway, and have a home on the edge of New Delhi. 🐕 🐱 🐈 🏡 PHOTOS: #1 We've always been cute together but it takes an old photo to remind us 😉 #2 All dressed up to attend a dance performance by our first-born. She is not in the photo but you can see her in my eyes. #3 Growing old together means we must laugh out loud regularly. ________________________________________ #love #couplegoals #marriage #hindumuslim #interfaith #pyaar

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MARIA MANJIL & SANDEEP JAIN

What started as friendship turned into a love that had the power to fight against family's resistance, never-ending 'snarky comments', and even, different food choices. What emerged is a union that has lasted for over 20 years. 

I saw his kind heart, gentle demeanour, intellectual compatibility, and deep affection for me. I couldn’t let him go just because he prayed to a different god and spoke a different language.
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MARIA MANJIL & SANDEEP JAIN By @mariamanjil We met at work, and what started out as friendship went on to mean much more. He is a North Indian, vegetarian, Jain from a conservative family. I am a Keralite, non-vegetarian, Catholic from a liberal family. Could the twain ever meet?  No, said his family. He had to wage the battle of his life to convince his parents otherwise. Mine had reservations but were supportive; the devout priests and nuns of the family turned out to be my biggest cheerleaders. How can you turn away from love? I saw his kind heart, gentle demeanour, intellectual compatibility, and deep affection for me. I couldn’t let him go just because he prayed to a different god and spoke a different language. We married in Jan 1998. There have been many challenges along the way: lack of wholehearted acceptance from his family, inquisitive questions, snarky comments from both communities, the food divide, partaking of customs and rituals I sometimes find retrograde. We’ve been married 22 years now and have a gentle, kind, and bubbly 16-year-old daughter, Roshni—our shining light in this fractured world. ________________________________________ PHOTOS #1 The Jain wedding ceremony #2 The Catholic wedding ceremony #3 Sandeep, Maria and daughter Roshni _________________________________ #love #marriage #couplegoals #interfaith #pyaar

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4. SUBHADRA KHAPERDE & RAHUL BANERJEE

After 25 years of marriage, these two social crusaders who together renounced both, caste and religion, have only one source of conflict - how regularly, or rather irregularly, does Rahul take a shower.  

In the course of our struggles for social justice we fell in love. There was fierce opposition to our relationship from both families, so in 1995 we got hitched in court. We have lived and worked together since. The major discord between us is that I bathe on an average only once a week as part of my crusade to save water! 
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SUBHADRA KHAPERDE & RAHUL BANERJEE By Rahul Banerjee Subhadra Khaperde is a Dalit Neo-Buddhist by birth. She is from a family of marginal farmers in Chhattisgarh, earning a precarious living making bidis to supplement a meagre income. She joined an NGO in the 1980s as a creche worker, and then became a rights activist, first in Chhattisgarh and later among Bhil Adivasis in the Dhar district of Madhya Pradesh (MP). That’s where we met. By birth, I am a Brahmin Hindu from an upper-class family. After I graduated from IIT, Kharagpur I renounced technology and began working for Adivasi rights in MP.  In the course of our struggles for social justice we fell in love. There was fierce opposition to our relationship from both families, so in 1995 we got hitched in court. We have lived and worked together since. The major discord between us is that I bathe on an average only once a week as part of my crusade to save water! We are a casteless, atheist couple fighting for a socio-economically just and ecologically sustainable world. PHOTOS #1 Full of hope at the start of our marital journey, at Kanyakumari, with Vivekananda Rock in the background. #2 Still going strong in 2020. #3 Preparing a wood burning earthen stove together in Indore.  ______________________________ #love #marriage #lifegoals #justice #sustainable #equality #adivasi

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5. MAY PEREIRA & YUSUF SHEIKH

May and Yusuf fell in love when they were 16 but it took them 14 years to gather the courage to get married. As fate would have it, their marriage was short-lived but their love, timeless. 

Barely 12 years after they were married, Yusuf passed away from a sudden heart attack. They were together, as man and wife, for fewer years than they had waited to get married to each other. They left me the choice to take up any religion I wanted. And even as a child I knew, through them, that my religion would be humanity, that I would choose not to choose.
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MAY PEREIRA & YUSUF SHEIKH By @kiranmanral On 10 June 1969, May Pereira dressed up in a white sari and went to the Bandra Court in Mumbai where she married Yusuf Sheikh. They had put out a notice with the intention to get married a month ago, no one from either families knew or attended the wedding. Yusuf’s friends were there, a couple of them signed as witnesses and that was that. They went to Lonavla for their honeymoon and returned to Yusuf’s home after, a fait accompli for both families to deal with. They were both the same age, 30. They lived on the same street in Bandra, and fell in love when they were 16. It took them 14 years to gather up the courage to get married. I was born three years later. “Why a white sari, Mom?” I asked decades later. “White is the colour brides wear,” she replied. White was not a colour of mourning for her. She still goes to church, prays at her altar at home. He kept his rozas, went to the mosque on festivals. Barely 12 years after they were married, Yusuf passed away from a sudden heart attack. They were together, as man and wife, for fewer years than they had waited to get married to each other. They left me the choice to take up any religion I wanted. And even as a child I knew, through them, that my religion would be humanity, that I would choose not to choose. PHOTOS #1 In my bunny coat, dad holding me, as he always did, face out, looking at the world. #2 Mom trying to convince me to change out of my shorts and vest into a dress for my birthday party #3 Mom and me now. She's 82 and fiercely independent. ______________________________ #India #love #marriage #Christian #Muslim #couple #lifegoals #church #mosque #interfaith

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6. RUPA & RAZI ABDI

Married for 30 years, Rupa and Razi, who celebrate Eid and Diwali with their two children, proved their relatives wrong and their love right. Because love doesn't always have to be difficult, even if society may make it out to be. 

For me, it was love at first sight. After wooing him for a month, I proposed and he gave in. My mother-in-law was a humble, religious woman who hadn't received any formal education. During my first visit to her house, while Razi's younger relatives were getting all worked up over the fact that Razi had married a Hindu girl, my mother-in-law's reaction was simple. ‘‘If Razi likes her, then I like her”, she said.
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RUPA & RAZI ABDI By @rupaabdi “He’ll say ‘talaq, talaq, talaq’ three times and kick you out”. That was my mother’s first reaction when I informed her that I was going to marry a Shia Muslim. However, once my parents met Razi and realised what a wonderful human being he was, their misgivings faded. I was born into a Hindu Brahmin family but my parents were relatively open-minded. I met Razi at a research institute in Gujarat that I visited often to meet a college mate who was working there. For me it was love at first sight. After wooing him for a month, I proposed and he gave in. My mother-in-law was a humble, religious woman who hadn't received any formal education. During my first visit to her house, while Razi's younger relatives were getting all worked up over the fact that Razi had married a Hindu girl, my mother-in-law's reaction was simple. ‘‘If Razi likes her, then I like her”, she said. It’s been 30 years since we got married and we have two adult sons. Both Eid and Diwali are celebrated in our home. PHOTOS #1 After our court marriage, Razi’s colleagues hurriedly arranged a small party on the terrace for us. #2 Our two sons are adults now and have learnt to respect all faiths and follow their own moral code. #3 Love is a faith that conquers all. _________________________ #love #marriage #India #interfaith #pyaar #couplegoals #lifegoals

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SALMA & TM VEERARAGHAV

It was a phone call that introduced them to each other, and a love that gave them the courage to brave the first meeting with each other's family. The two signed the knot by signing the court document. Years later, their child is the one who benefitted the most - he gets to enjoy the best of both worlds. 

We were married at the court at the old collectorate in Gheekanta. Both families were in attendance, but the ritual was a court document, the priest was the magistrate and the god, a photo of the Mahatma on the wall. Hindu or Muslim isn’t as important as curd rice versus mutton biryani! I remain vegetarian, she enjoys her mutton and the product of our love gets the best of both worlds. Ainesh is a Hindu or Muslim, depending on what’s cooking. 
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SALMA & TM VEERARAGHAV By TM Veeraraghav Salma and I met in Ahmedabad, Gujarat in 2004. She was working with Oxfam GB and I with NDTV. She had called about a story. Hers was a rare, beautiful voice and, most importantly, she introduced herself before asking me a question. Most other calls in Gujarat would begin with the funny/rude “Kaun bolu che?” The caller would ask, “Who’s this?”As a lonely Tam Bram, the U.P. Pathan in Ahmedabad was a fascinating interruption to riot related, depressing news reports and Dhokla breaks. A year later she went to meet my parents in Chennai and I went to Delhi to meet hers. They said you haven’t left anything for us to say, we have no choice but to bless you. We were married at the court at the old collectorate in Gheekanta. Both families were in attendance, but the ritual was a court document, the priest was the magistrate and the god, a photo of the Mahatma on the wall. Hindu or Muslim isn’t as important as curd rice versus mutton biryani! I remain vegetarian, she enjoys her mutton and the product of our love gets the best of both worlds. Ainesh is a Hindu or Muslim, depending on what’s cooking.  PHOTOS #1 Lawfully wedded. #2 Exploring parenthood #3 On the Krishna Raja Sagara Dam in Mysore. ______________________________ #love #marriage #lifegoals #equality #India #Hindu #Muslim #biryani #thairsadam

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These are just a few of the many stories on the account that serve as a beautiful, subtle, but brilliant reminder of how, the best way to fight against hate and fascism, is to choose love. 

All images and quotes have been taken from the Instagram account, India Love Project.