Ceremonies of a Hindu marriage – sec 7 of Hindu Marriage Act, 1955
Marriage is a social institution. It refers to marital bond of a man & a woman. Marriage is the legal & social unification of two adults. Marriage is culturally recognised among people all over the world. Marriage establishes a lot of rights and obligations between the spouses. Marriage is an intimate partnership. But even marriage is backed by some laws so that neither the bride nor the groom is denied of any rights.
Hindu marriage is regarded one of the most sacred bonds in the Hindu religion. As per the old texts and scriptures it is known that Hindus consider marriage to be a religious duty. And giving birth to children is also a religious duty. It is also believed that the one who don’t have any progeny is said to have not completed his religious duties. Thus , marriage among Hindus is more of a religious obligation than that of personal satisfaction & interest.
- ( Also Read: Salient Features of Hindu marriage Act,1955 )
- ( Also Read: Conditions of a Valid Hindu Marriage )
Purpose of Hindu marriage
According to the ancient Hindu texts following are the purpose of Hindu marriage:
1. DHARMA OR RELIGIOUS DUTY
Dharma or religious duty is the main aim of Hindu marriage. There is a need to fulfil religious duty. According to the ancient scriptures wife is a religious necessity.
2. PRAJA OR PROGENY
The second most important purpose of Hindu marriage is procreation of children. As per Hindu thinkers procreation of children is important for both family and community.
3. KAMA OR SEX GRATIFICATION
This is another aim of Hindu marriage. Fulfilment of sexual gratification is important for a healthy personality development . But it is only given a secondary importance.
4. RINA OR DEBTS
A man has to repay three debts in his life. One to the creator of this universe- God, next towards teachers & lastly towards ancestors.
5. SOCIO CULTURAL CONTINUITY
Marriage is important for the continuation of the society. Also it is the duty of every one to pass the cultural heritage and traditions to the next generation. And next generation can only come from a married couple.
Rituals or Ceremonies of Hindu marriage
Hindu marriage is held in accordance with many rituals and customs. There are some integral & auspicious rituals related to the Hindu marriage.
There are 7 steps in a Hindu marriage. These are:
- Nourish each other
- Be each other’s strength
- Prosper and Stay Faithful
- Love and Respect for families
- Care for Children
- To live a healthy and peaceful life
- Bond of Friendship and Loyalty
A Hindu marriage ceremony is said to be completed after the following rituals are completed but there are a lot of variations in hindu marriage & it depends upon region to region & place to place. For example , in a Bengali Hindu marriage sindoor is the most essential part of the marriage & for others it might be wearing of mangalsutra.
But there are a few rituals that are common for all Hindu marriage irrespective of the region. These are:
The father of the bride performs this ritual and if the father is no more then any guardian from the bride’s side performs this ritual. In this ritual the bride’s father basically gives away his daughter to the groom. Here , the bride’s father makes the groom promise him not to deprive his daughter from the following things:
a) moral & lawful life
The groom promises this three times . This marks the end of the kanyadana ritual.
This comes after the kanyadana ritual. This ritual is about holding hands. This symbolises the marital union & responsibilities of each other. Sometimes in this ritual a symbolic fire is lit which symbolises the starting of a new household.
This is a Sanskrit word which means Seven steps. This is considered to be the most important ritual of Vedic Hindu marriage. In this ritual a holy fire is lit. The bride and the groom takes seven steps around the the holy fire. The couple makes vows along with each step. This comes after the kanyadana ritual. This ritual is about holding hands. This symbolises the marital union & responsibilities of each other. Sometimes in this ritual a symbolic fire is lit which symbolises the starting of a new household.
Hindu marriage ceremonies & Law
It is possible for Hindus to marry without undergoing the rituals & still remain a Hindu for the other aspects of law. Hindus can opt for civil marriage under Special Marriage Act 1954. This is different from Court marriage. As per the Special Marriage Act, there is no requirement for religious ritual or ceremony of any kind. It is required that the persons intending to marry should inform the marriage officer of the district in which at least one of them lives.
Necessary ceremonies, shastric or customary, whichever are prevalent on the side of the bride or bridegroom, must be performed otherwise marriage will not be valid. No one can innovate new ceremonies and a marriage performed with the innovated ceremonies and rites is invalid. Hindu Marriage Act allows inter-caste marriages. But marriage between a Hindu and a non Hindu is not permissible under Hindu Marriage Act and such a marriage if performed in India, will be invalid. But foreign country such marriage is valid. Such marriage is also valid in India, if performed under the Special Marriage Act, 1954.
The Hindu Marriage Act was amended. Section 7 (a) was inserted by the Tamil Nadu Government in 1968. This section provides for a particular kind of marriage namely ‘Suyamariyathai’ . The meaning of this word is ‘Self Respect’. This is a kind of marriage among two Hindus. In the year 1968 Hindu Marriage Act was amended with the introduction of section 7 (a).
Section 7 of the Hindu Marriage Act deals completely with ceremonies related to the Hindu Marriage. It is believed that a Hindu marriage is incomplete without performing a few customary rituals . Though these rituals are not universal but there are a few ( like Saptapadi) without which a Vedic marriage is incomplete. But still these are also backed by laws. These private laws therefore extend even into personal matters like marriage.
Author: Sholanki Bhowmik,
Ramaiah College of law, 2nd year, law student