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You are here: Home Newspaper Special Issue Wedding Special 2011 Eight forms of Hindu Marriage and its custom

Eight forms of Hindu Marriage and its custom

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There are eight kinds of marriages, according to the Hindu law books. Brahma Vivah, Daiva Vivah, Arsha Vivah, and Gandharva Vivah are the main forms of marriages in Hinduism.

There are eight kinds of marriages, according to the Hindu law books. Brahma Vivah, Daiva Vivah, Arsha Vivah are some of the main forms of marriages in Hinduism. The different forms of marriage are described as below:

Brahma Vivah: The daughter is dressed in a single robe and married to a man who is learned in the Vedas; her father readily invites and receives the bridegroom and his family respectfully. This nuptial is called Brahma. After the bride and the bridegroom took thorough education in Brahmacharya Ashrama and when both agree to spend their life together, the father of the bride gives his daughter to the bridegroom in the form of a gift. Usually carry a huge amount of ornaments. This ceremony was earlier not much known among the Brahmins, but now it is performed by all castes of Hindus.

Daiva Vivah: In this type of marriage, the father gives away his daughter along with heavy ornaments to a priest; this priest performs the sacrifice Yajna. Such marriages were more frequent in earlier times, when Yajna was a vital part of the daily activities of Hindus.

Arsha Vivah: In this type of marriage, the bridegroom gives a cow and a bull to the father of the bride and the father instead gives his daughter in marriage. This exchange of the cow and the bull was considered as a religious ritual and as a token of gratitude to the father in law. The groom is also obliged to him to fulfill the obligations of Grihasthashram.

Prajapatya Vivah: This kind of joint performance of sacred duties by a man and a woman is called the Prajapatya marriage. According to the founder of Arya Samaj, Swami Dayanand Saraswati, the father offers his daughter to the bridegroom, by addressing the couple some of the mantras of value.

Asura Vivah: This is a type of marriage where the bridegroom pays the value to the father or kinsmen of the bride. The bridegroom decides the price according to the position of the bride’s family in society. This form of marriage is still popular amongst the low caste Hindus and some other tribes of India.

Gandharva Vivah: Mutual love and consent between bride and the bridegroom brings about this kind of marriage. This kind of marriage is a voluntary union of a maiden with her beloved. Parents and kinsmen do not play any role in such marriages. Sexual intercourse before marriage also may occur between the couple. It is not regarded as a prohibition for their following marriage. Kama Sutra says this kind of marriage to be an ideal one. Hindu mythology literature has such type of marriages in abundance. Some of the well known mythological pairs are Bhima with Hidimba; Dushyant and Shakuntala; Kamdeva and Rati, Daksheya and Prajapati, Kach and Devyani, Arjuna with a servant maid and many more described in Sukh Sagar.

Swaymvara  is another form of marriage and this existed in ancient times. This form of marriage depicts the choice of a hero as her bridegroom. The royalty of ancient times decided to choose a brave and righteous person as the bridegroom. So invitations were sent to the princes and the chieftains living close by and to distant kingdoms. The bride was allowed to select one from the gathered ones whom wished to put a garland round his neck and the marriage was complete.

The marriage of Nala and Damayanti took place in this process. In the nuptial knot ceremony of Prithviraj and Sanyukta, the bride had put a garland round the neck of a statue of Prithviraj. In some particular cases, a test was given to be completed by the competitors and the winner won the bride. This system was followed in Ramayana too; when Rama pulled the cord of Siva’s bow and married Sita. In Mahabharata, Arjuna shot through the eye of the rotating fish on the top of a shaft to marry Draupadi.

Swaymvara is usually not included in the 8 forms of traditional marriages. But it shares a close resemblance with Gandharva marriage. In this type of marriage, it is also allowed that, the father permits his daughter to choose her husband. Later, love and courtship comes along the way. In such cases, an ardent couple might have entered into a union without entering the religion-legal formalities. This is very common during wars. Later on, the union was legalized through a proper ceremony, thus it was an approved  form.

Rakshasa Vivah: Capturing the bridegroom made this kind of marriage. Ancient tribes looked upon women as prizes of war, part of the loot in a fair fight. This form was quite frequent in many other early civilizations. It pleads the warrior of instinct of the Kshatriya, and was mostly practiced by them. The source of this form of marriage probably came from the non- Aryans. Hindu scriptures described this type of marriage as forceful seizure of a maiden from her home. The bride used to cry, weep and scream while the act. Women, thus, have been the reason of many fights and battles in ancient times.

Paishacha Vivah: This was the most horrible form of all types of marriages. In this the bride was not only kidnapped but she was first molested           or stolen amidst her tribe. Usually when her relatives were asleep, or in a state of intoxication during a tribal festival, this act was carried out in stealth. This form is unanimously damned. This form of marriage was most prevalent among the Hindu Sutras. By recognition of this form of marriage was only that the children were regarded as legitimate.

According to Kautilya shastra, of these eight types of marriage, only the first four (Brahma, Daiva, Arsha and Prajapatya) carry the ancestral ethnicity of old and are suitable on their being accepted by the father. The rest of the marriages were based on receiving money or torturing the bride.