Evolution of the institution of Hindu Marriage
To set up a relationship uniting husband and wife is Marriage.
Marriage is considered as social institution.
In early era during the Indus-valley civilization, matriarchal society concept was being followed. In matrilocality type of society spouses used to reside with or nearby the wife’s parents thereby forming large-clan families residing over 3-4 generations. Later, in chalcolithic age basically known as copper age, cross-culture and inter-caste marriages were practiced. This concept of marriage was established by Harappans to ease trade and cultural practices. During the ancient times polygamy and polyandry was legalized.
Gradually it was replaced by bigamy and monogamy which is still being followed. With the change in time marriage was considered as a religious, sacred, purification bond. The existence of Swayamvar was form of tradition in that era but as the Vedic religion evolved into orthodox Hinduism the ideas of Manu gained prominence at large and moved towards caste-based society and patriarchy. The roots of Hindu marriage go much deeper than it seems. It imbibes ethos of Hindu traditions and culture, fulfillment of dharma, procreation and sexual pleasure.
According to scriptures there are eight forms of marriage i.e. Brahma, Prajapatya, Aarsh, Daiva, Asura, Gandharva, Rakshas, Paisach.
As per the influence of western culture and education, enactment of various laws the concept of Hindu Marriage has gone through various changes. Enactment of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1951 and Special Marriage Act are examples of these changes.
Concept of Hindu Marriage
Marriage is a root to establish a basic unit in society consisting of parents nurturing their children.
Marriage as a sacrament1
Marriage is considered as a sacrament under Hindu Law in which husband and wife unite for the social, physical and spiritual purposes of procreation, dharma and sexual pleasure.
According to Hindu, Marriage is a sacred institution. It is a holy tie and last of ten sacraments that can never be splintered; considered valid not only in this life but in lives to come. Marriage is a religious ceremony mandatory for every Hindu.
A marriage under Hindus is considered legitimate and valid only when certain rituals and rites are completed. If the rituals and religious rites are not performed then the validity and legitimacy of marriage is questionable.
According to Hindus, Marriage is an enduring bond of the husband and wife which is permanent and tied even after death and they will remain together after the death. Once it is tied cannot be untied. It is a religious and sacred unification of the bride and groom which is necessary to be performed by religious ceremonies, rites and observance.
According to Hindu, male goes through the performance of several sacraments in his life and marriage is the most essential among them. Similarly, for women because that is the only sacrament performed by them. In the past the unification was considered so sacred that the dissolution of marriage caused by reasons other than death was considered contrary to the law of God and nature.
Marriage as a contract
Marriage is socially and legally binding contract.
The enactment of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1951 justifies that marriage is no longer considered as a sacrament but as a contract. According to section 13 of the Hindu marriage act, 1955 marriage can be dissolved on certain specified grounds under the section. Adultery, widow remarriage and live in relationship has wiped out the recognition of sacrament. The modern nature of marriage is contractual. Thus, it sustains the ideals of equality and liberty. Some Hindus believe that a ritual performed by father ‘Kanyadaan’ is form of contract during marriage.
Marriage is not obligatory or mandatory anymore. Marriage is dissoluble now because of divorce concept under laws which are governed by the Hindu Marriage Act and Special Marriage Act.