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Marriage in Hinduism

Marriage in Hinduism

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Hindu swastika

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A Hindu marriage joins two individuals for life, so that they can pursue dharma, artha (possessions) and kama (physical desires) together. It also joins two families. The colours are normally red and gold.


  • 1 Arranging the marriage
  • 2 The wedding
    • 2.1 Types of Hindu marriage and rituals
    • 2.2 Symbolic rituals worn by married Hindu women
  • 3 Modernity
  • 4 See also

Arranging the marriage

Traditionally, Hindu parents look for a prospective match for their son/daughter from their own community also known as arranged marriage. Elders in the family and parents seek the prospective match through word of mouth within the community. The use of jathakam (astrological chart at the time of birth) of the son/daughter to match with the help of a priest is common, but not universal. Parents also take advice from the brahmin called 'panthulu' in Telugu who has details of many people looking to get married. Some communities, like the Brahmins in Mithila, use genealogical records ("Panjikas") maintained by the specialists.

Jathakam is drawn based on the placement of the stars and planets at the time of birth. The maximum points for any match can be 36 and the minimum points for matching is 18. Any match with points under 18 is not considered as an auspicious match for a harmonial relationship. If the astrological chart of the two individuals (male and female) achieve the required threshold in points then further talks are considered for prospective marriage. Also the man and woman are given chance to talk and understand each other in the duration anywhere from 15 minutes to one hour. Once there is an agreement then an auspicious time is chosen for the wedding to take place.

The wedding

Main article: Hindu wedding

Wedding ceremonies can be expensive, and costs are typically borne by the parents. It's not uncommon for middle-or upper-class weddings to have a guest list of over 500 people. A live instrumental band is played in some parts where as some marriages have baratis (the bridegroom's family) dancing to music just before coming to the wedding venue. Vedic rituals are performed and the family and friends then bless the couple. Food is served to all the invitees with lots of delicacies. The wedding celebrations can take up to one week depending on the practice in that different parts of India.

Types of Hindu marriage and rituals

Historically the so called vedic marriage was but one of the few different types of Hindu marriage customs. Love marriage was also seen in historical Hindu literature and has been variously described in many names: eg Gandharva vivaha etc. In certain poor vaishnav communities still there is a custom called kanthi-badal which is exchange of bead-garlands as a very simplified form of ritual in solitude in front of an idol of Krishna, considered a form of acceptable love marriage.

Elopement has also been described in old Hindu literature. Lord Krishna himself Eloped Rukmini on horse chariot. It is written that Rukmini's father was going to marry her to Shishupal, against her wishes. Rukimini sent a letter to Krishna informing of a place and time to pick her up.

Symbolic rituals worn by married Hindu women

The married Hindu women in different parts of India follow different customs. In some places, in especially eastern India, they put on vermilion on the hair parting, wear a pair of conch bangles (shankha), a pair of red bangles(pala) and an iron bangle on the left hand (loha) while their husband is alive. In Tamil Nadu, a married woman is required to wear a necklace with a distinctive pendant called a thali and silver toerings. Both are put on her by the husband during the wedding ceremony. The pendant on the thali is custom-made and it's design is different from family to family. Apart from this, the married woman also wears a red vermilion dot on her forehead called a Kunguma pottu and (whenever possible) flowers in her hair and colured glass bangles. The married woman should give up all of these when her husband dies.


Many people believe that arranged marriage is the traditional form of marriage in India and that love marriage is a modern form that is currently becoming more and more acceptable. Love marriage differs from an "arranged marriage" in that the couple, rather than the parents, choose their own partner. However, there are various instances from ancient scriptures of Hinduism, namely Ramayana and Mahabhagavatham (life of Lord Krishna), Mahabaratha, etc., of the romantic love marriages that were also acceptable form of marriage even in ancient times. Examples: the wedding of King Dashratha and Kaushalya, the wedding of Krishna and Princess Rukmini, the wedding of King Shanthanu and the boatman's daughter Sathyavathi... in all these weddings, there were no considerations of caste, creed, wealth, position, etc., but only the love of the two people getting married. Somewhere in the course of time, arranged marriages had become predominant and love marriages became unacceptable by the society. Nowadays, "love marriages" are being accepted again.

In practice, arranged marriages usually involve the consent of the boy and the girl. Love marriages usually involve consent (sometimes grudging) of the parents.

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