The records of marriage can be found in the early scriptures of our country. As per Hinduism, marriage is a union between two souls, between man and a woman. Apart from the union of man and woman there is a union between two families. It is a journey together to an earthly life, prosperity and towards a better existence. There is a need for procreation in nature and marriage helps in fulfilling the laws of nature. As per Manusmriti there are about eight different types of Hindu marriages. They are Brahma Marriage, Daiva Marriage, Asura Marriage, Arsha Marriage, Gandharva Marriage, Rakshasa Marriage, and Paishacha Marriage and Prajapatya Marriage. The ancient manuscripts clearly held forth the view that there are eight types of Hindu marriages.
As per the Rite of Brahmana, the bride’s father summons someone who is well versed with the Vedas and then gives away his daughters hand in marriage by gifting her ornaments and wedding garments. As per the Brahmana, the boy attains the age to get married and once he has completed his Brahmacharya. The parents look for a girl. The girl should match the groom’s family background. The bride’s father would also try to find out whether the groom has a proper knowledge of the Vedas and accordingly the marriage will be finalized. The records showed that dowry practice did not exist among the bride and the groom’s family
In Daiva the daughter is decked up and she is handed over the priest who conducts the marriage. In Daiva practice the bride’s father waits for a suitable time to get their daughter married. However in the course of time if they do not finds suitable match for their daughter then they would try to get their daughter married to a place and sacrifices are also being held. In such cases the bride is also being married off to the priest. This kind of marriage is known to put down woman in the society
In Arshsa, the bride’s father gives away her daughter after receiving cow and bull from the bridegroom’s family. We get to know a lot about Arsha marriage form the Dharmashastra. The bride is exchanged in return of two cows by the groom’s family. There were hardly any requirements for any quality of the groom as all that which is needed is the exchange of the cows.
Prajapati – the daughter is given away with the blessing of the bride’s father and the father blesses the couple to carry forward their duty.
Rite of the Asura – Here the bridegroom showers the bride’s family with wealth and material possessions so that he gets a bride of his choice. The brides consent hardly matters in this kind of marinade and she is just like any other commodity.
In Rite of Rakshasa there is a use of force which involves taking away the woman after her kinsmen has been wounded. The girls consent hardly mattered in case for such weddings and she is being forcibly taken away by the groom once the bride’s family loses she battle.
In rite of pysacha the man tries to seduce a woman who is mentally challenged or intoxicated. This kind of marriage is hardly accepted as the woman is married off forcibly irrespective of whether she has her consent or not. This kind of marriage was discontinued later on and was hardly accepted by the people
All the above kinds of marriage existed in ancient India and there was a legal sanction to it. These kinds of marriages were followed among several communities of people. Some of these practices are still being followed by Hindus
When it comes to Gandharva marriage it reminds us of the present love marriages. In this form of marriage the bride and the groom sometimes elopes to get married without the consent of the parents. This kind of marriage is hardly accepted as this takes place without the permission of the parents. As per rite of Gandharva there is a union between the man and woman which stems from physical needs.
There has also been reference where the bride gets married to the saints or the hrishis. In some cases where the bride’s family cannot afford to get a groom and are not that affluent enough then the bride is being married off to a saint or a hrishi.
Hindu marriages are the most colorful marriage that we have today and they are celebrated with pomp and grandeur. Hindu marriage entails various kinds for religious rituals and customs which are followed extensively. The rituals might vary as per the geographic location and as per the customs of that particular place. In some cases the ritual begins several days in advance of the wedding. The days before the wedding are most important for the bride as well as the groom’s family. On the wedding day itself the rituals sometimes begins form early morning and carries on for several hours. Once the marriage is solemnized and vows are being exchanged and the bride enters the groom’s family. Then there are a set of customs and rituals that are being followed in the groom’s household. In some cases games are being played among the bride and the groom such as finding a ring in a bowl of water
When the bride enters the groom’s household for the first time the bride upturns pot of rice at the doorstep to symbolize luck and prosperity to the house.
Apart from religious customs and rituals, there is another deep rooted problem that is related to marriage our society such as the dowry system. In some communities the practice of dowry from the bride’s family is still being followed and the bride’s family often has to meet the demands from the groom’s family. This practice sis still carried out in some place since the ancient times. Efforts have been made to stop this practice in our society so that women are not looked down upon and are not treated as commodities.