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Marriage: An Institution Under Hindu Law

Marriage is a social practice through which two people and their families unite which gives rise to conjugal rights. The word conjugal means rights which arise between husband and wife after marriage. Marriage is one of the oldest sacraments in the society.

Marriage is a universal social institution. It brings men and women into family life. In this institution man and woman are socially permitted to have children. Thereby society grants. Them the rights to sexual relation. According to Gillin and Gillin , Marriage is a socially approved way of establishing a family of procreation.[1]

Forms of marriage

Under Hindu system eight types of marriages can take place:

  1. Brahma form of marriage:

    Brahma vivah is the best and most practiced form of marriage in India. In this form of marriage, the father of girl gift his daughter to person of good character who is learned in vedas. During this type of marriage, the girl is dressed and decked to a male who has good knowledge of vedas. During this marriage the male is invited by the father of the bride. Under Hindu sanskar it is the purest and most evolved form of marriage as this form of marriage does not includes any force, carnal appetite, and exchange of money.
  2. Daiva form of Marriage:

    In Daiva form of marriage, the marriage takes place between the girl and a priest. Section IV of manusmriti defines daiva marriage.
  3. Arsha form of Marriage:

    In this form of marriage, the marriage takes place with rishi or sages. In this marriage the father of girl doesn't have to offer anything to the groom. In this marriage the father of the groom gives two cows or bulls to the father of bride.
  4. Prajapatya form Marriage:

    This form of marriage is identical to brahma vivah but there is no kanyadan in this form of marriage.
  5. Asura form of Marriage:

    It is the most unsocial form of marriage. In this marriage the father gives his daughter after getting money from the groom. This form of marriage is basically a barter exchange between the father of bride and groom.
  6. Gandharva form of marriage:

    In this form of marriage, the girl and boy mutually agree to get marry but this mutual agreement is arisen from pure lust. In this form of marriage, the approval of parents plays no role.
  7. Rakshasa form of marriage:

    In this form of marriage, the bride is abducted, and the marriage is performed. This form of marriage is the most condemned form of marriage since this form of marriage involve abduction of bride it is not only against nature and custom but also against laws.
  8. 'Paishacha' form of marriage:

    In this form of marriage, the man seduces the women they entered a sexual act when the girl is not in position to give her consent due to intoxication or mental disorder. Under Hindu system marriage is performed for fulfillment of religious obligation and not for fulfillment of sexual desire.

Solemnization of marriage

Section 7 of Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 contain provisions relating to solemnization of marriage. Under Hindu system a marriage may be perform with all the ceremonies by both or either one party of the marriage.

A marriage is concerned with saptapadi which means seven rounds. In saptapadi both bride and groom take seven rounds of fire and after which marriage become binding.

The marriage renders to be valid if it is performed between Hindu couples according to the customary ceremony and rituals of each party or any one of them. Any child born after performing the marriage according to this section will be legitimate. The beginning of the child before the dissolution of the marriage is not the cause to dissolve the marriage.

It is one of the most important duties of the father to bring up the girl child, find a suitable boy for her and do Kanyadan for the girl. Girl leaves their gotra and enters the gotra of the boy. It is an unbreakable bond that is tied for the generation to generation. It is a sacrament, not a contract.[2]

Section 2 of Hindu Marriage Act, 1955

Under section 2 of Hindu marriage act parties to the marriage should be Hindu. If any of the parties is a non-Hindu, the marriage would not be considered valid under the act. If either party or both the party are non-Hindus, then such marriage will not be dealt by this act and would be held void under this act. Such marriages in which either party is a non-Hindu are dealt by special marriage act, 1954. The special marriage act 1954 was passed by the legislature to deal with inter religious marriages.

Essential element of marriage.

Monogamy is the marriage between one woman and one man at a time. Monogamy is the most sacred type of marriage in Hindu. Sec. 5(i) of Hindu Marriage Act says that only monogamy is accepted in Hindu religion and if spouse of any one is not dead at the time of marriage, then that would be considered as the offence of bigamy under Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.

The offence of bigamy is also punishable under section 494 of Indian Penal Code, 1860.

The conditions are:
At the time of marriage both bride and groom are not unsound mind because they are unable to give their valid consent and they wouldn't be able to understand the nature of their marriage and perform their rights and duties. Unsoundness of mind makes a person unable to determine the consequences of any act which he or she perform due to such unsoundness of mind.

It is obvious that a relationship like marriage should not be performed between people of unsound mind as it wouldn't be possible for them to perform the obligation attach to it. At the time of marriage bride and groom are not subjected to attack of insanity

Age to the parties:
According to Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 the legal age for male is 21 years and for the female is 18 years. If the given age is not performed by any of the party, then it is an offence under Hindu Marriage Act, 1955. Age is one of the most important essential for performance of valid marriage. If anyone of the bride or groom is below the legal age, the marriage solemnized is void.

Prohibited Degrees of Relationship:
Sec. 5(iv) of Hindu Marriage Act,1955 says that no marriage can be solemnized falling within prohibited degree of relationship. Those marriage which are solemnized under this they all are void under section 11 of Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.

Prohibition of Sapinda Relationship:
Sec. 5(v) of Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 says that no one can marry with their Sapinda relationship person it is an offence under the section 11 of the act. In the sapinda relationship third generation in the line of ascent through the mother and fifth in the line of ascent through the father.

To conclude we would like to state that marriage is one of the oldest and purest sacraments. With the passage of time and development of society the customary practices have taken a form of legal provisions which makes the fulfillment of these customary practices necessary.

The institution of marriage and its sanctity plays an important role towards fulfillment of once obligation towards our ancestral obligations.

  1. An Introduction to Sociology ByNavendu K. Thakur, Pg: 141
Written By:
  1. Ankit Kumar Yadav, B.A Ll. B (Hons.) 3rd Year, Amity Law School, Lucknow, U.P
  2. Amit Pandey, B.A Ll. B (Hons.) 4th Year, Faculty Of Law, University Of Lucknow, U.P

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