Marriage is one of the most ancient and fundamental social institutions. Its form, nature and process vary from the society to society. Moreover, its peculiarities are defined not only by social beliefs but also by religious ones. Hindu marriage is a religious sacrament and a sacred bond. Its aim is not only to provide physical pleasure for the couple, but also to help them to achieve the spiritual development.
In Vedas is mentioned that marriage is “a union between two bodies, two minds, two hearts, and two spirits or souls that lovingly resolve to live together just like Shiva and Parvati” (Bhalla, 2009, p. 97). That is why Hindu marriage is not only a union between a male and female that sanctioned by society, but also the union that has religious and divine aspect. The main goal of Hindu marriage is fulfilling through its certain religious obligations such as drahma, praja and rati. For fulfilling them, the couple during the course of marriage takes an oath to live together. Moreover, the Hindus consider vivah (marriage) as one of the Sarir Samskara – sacraments sanctifying the body. In addition, they consider it as the only way for repaying pitri rina. The person repays it by giving the birth to a son (Salunke & Bagad, 2009, p.20).
There are several ways of getting married according to Hindu literature. In Mansumriti 3/21, it is written that there are eight kinds of marriages. Brahm – after decking bride with costly garments, the father gives his daughter to a man learned in the Vedas (related to the Eternal Spirit). Dev – the daughter after grooming with ornaments is given to a priest, who during the course of marriage ceremony officiates at a sacrifice (related to the gods). Aarash – the father gives the groom his daughter after receiving a bull or a cow (related to sages). Prajapatya – the father gives his daughter to groom with blessing and some special words (related to kings). Asur – the groom receives a maiden after giving some wealth to her relative according to groom’s will (related to demons). Gandharv – the union of maiden and her lover according to their mutual desire (a love marriage). Rakhas – abduction of a maiden in an evil form from her home (related to demons and evil spirits). The last one is paisach – a man seduces a girl who does not have the ability to protect herself (related to Satan). Of these eight, Manu approves the first four and other four consider inferior(Salunke & Bagad, 2009, p. 20). These eight types of Hindu marriage can be also divided according to the way of gaining the bride. The first six types are dowered marriages and the last two are marriages by capture. If a marriage alliance involves a transaction between the two parties (a girl is bought or sold and gifted to a priest as his fee or married to a man with dowry) as part of the negotiations, it should be considered as a dowered marriage. If a marriage alliance is forged without a ceremony and transaction (a girl is abducted openly or secretly, seduced or drugged, mentally fit or deranged), it should be considered as a marriage by capture. However, it is necessary to mention that both dowered marriages and marriages by capture according to the sacred law was a sacramental union, which could never be dissolved (Sharma, 1995, p. 95-96).
To sum up, Hindu marriage is closely connected with religious beliefs. Religion defines the main aims of Hindu marriage and its forms. There are eight forms of Hindu marriage according to Mansumriti. Among them, the first four are related to good and other four to evil.