The Hindu scriptures admit the following forms of marriage:
• Brahma marriage: Here, the girl, decorated with clothes and ornaments, is given in marriage to a learned and gentle bridegroom. This is the prevalent form of marriage in Hindu society even today.
• Prajapatya marriage: Here, the daughter is offered to the bridegroom by blessing them with the enjoyment of marital bliss and the fulfillment of
• Aarsh marriage: Here, a rishi used to accept a girl in marriage after giving
a cow or bull and some clothes to the parents of the girl. These articles
were not the price of the bride, but indicated the resolve of the rishi to lead a household life.
• Daiva marriage: Here, the girl, decorated with ornaments and clothes, was offered to the person, who conducted the function of a Purohit in yajna.
• Asura marriage: Here, the bridegroom gets the bride in exchange for some money or articles given to the family members of the bride.
• Gandharva marriage: This form of the marriage is the result of mutual
affection and love between the bride and the bridegroom. An example of this type of marriage is the marriage of the King Dushyanta with Shakuntala. In this form of marriage, the ceremonies can be performed after sexual relationship between the bride and the bridegroom.
• Rakshas marriage: This type of marriage was prevalent in the age, when women were considered to be the prize of a war. In this type of marriage, the bridegroom takes away the bride from her house forcibly after killing and injuring her relatives.
• Paishach marriage: This type of marriage has been called to be the most degenerative form. In this type, a man enters into sexual relationship with a sleeping, drunk or unconscious woman. Such acts were regularized after the performance of marriage ceremony, which took place after
physical relationship between the man and woman.
According to D. N. Majumdar, ‘Hindu society now recognizes only two
forms, the Brahma, and the Asura, the higher castes preferring the former, the backward castes the latter, though here and there among the higher castes the Asura practice has not died out’. This view rightly describes the present position of the traditional forms of Hindu marriage.
Among the Hindus, marriage is of great individual and social significance. It is a socially approved union of man and woman aiming at procreation, pleasure and observance of certain social obligations. The Hindu marriage has undergone changes in the last few decades. Three significant changes in the Hindu marriage may be noted as:
• The Hindu young men and women today marry not very much for performing religious ties but for lifelong companionship.
• The marital relations are no longer treated as unbreakable or irrevocable, as divorce is socially and legally permissible.
• The ideal of pativratya has lost its significance for there is
legal provision for widow remarriage and divorce.