Marriage is a pious institution and has been accorded greatest significance in society; for it actually forms the basis of society and civilized eternities in this world. The significance of marriage in the individual life is of course paramount and the person is incomplete in the absence of a well laid social identity that is secured only through marriage. All the cultures therefore adhere to this custom with a celebration. The authenticity of marriage has been tried to be optimized through diversity of traditions and rituals that have roots in religious spiritualties. The Hindu society of India has some of the oldest customs pertaining to marriage and these are still kept with full dedication and passion. The chronicles however, speak of no less than eight types of marriages in Hindu society. These are really diverse but only one or two concepts have found max resonance through ages of social evolution. Let’s see what these are and which attributes define each.
The Brahma marriage
Brahma marriage has earned the notable distinction of being the leading concept among all. In fact, today a Hindu marriage means a Brahma marriage in general. The underlying concept of this type of marriage is the giving away of one’s daughter by father as a pious gift to the groom of merit. This philosophy has been reflected in the concept of ‘kanyadaan’ that is done by the father to the groom. This means that the father has willingly donated his daughter to the groom without taking any type of price from the groom. Spiritually speaking this is the most pious principle of marriage as no material cause is manifested at any stage. However, in current Indian society, the system of dowry has emerged as the necessary evil.
The daiva marriage
Daiva marriage involves giving away of one’s daughter to a priest that has presided over a religious ceremony. This is spiritual donating to the priest and in the early societies, this practice was rampant. The girl used to live for life with the priest doing service for him. The modern evolving societies found this concept as pretty unfounded in consonance with the new society that wanted more authentic and stable concept.
Arsha marriage is typical as it involves the father receiving of money or cow/bull as a price from the groom who approaches for his daughter. This is in antagonism to the more spiritual principle of Brahma marriage where no cost is taken by the willing father.
When the father gives his daughter to the bridegroom and addresses to both of them saying, ‘May both of you perform your duties together’ then it is called as prajapatya marriage.
The gandharva marriage
This concept resonates with that of love marriage of modern age. When the girl herself chooses groom then it is called as the gandharva marriage.
In this marriage the bridegroom gives away much of wealth to the bride and her kinsmen and take the bride with him.
The forcible abduction of the lady and then marrying her is called as rakshasa marriage.
This is the concept that has been regarded as sinful. In this, the male tries to seduce the lady while she is sleeping or intoxicated or she is mentally challenged.