Hindu scriptures described eight forms of Hindu marriage. These are:
1. Brahma vivah: This is the ideal form of Hindu marriage. It is settled by parents, a Brahmin is called to preside over the marriage rites and the daughter is given by her father to the groom (this is called kanyadan), along with some dowry of ornaments and clothes.
2. Daiva vivah: The father of the bride offers his daughter in the hand of the priest as dakshina. It was considered as an ideal form of marriage in ancient times but has become irrelevant today.
3. Arsha vivah: In this form of marriage the bride’s father gets something from the groom, like a pair of cattle, in exchange for his daughter.
4. Parjapatya vivah: In this form of marriage, the consent of the parents is essential but no ceremony is performed.
5. Asura vivah: The bride price is given by the groom to the bride’s father. This is a sort of an economic contract and there is no limit or stipulation on the amount
6. Gandharva vivah: This was the traditional form of love marriage. Here neither is the consent of parents necessary nor are the rites or dowry essential.
7. Rakshasa vivah: This type of marriage is by capture or abduction without obtaining the consent of the girl or her parents. This was practised in times when group conflicts and tribal wars were very common. The victorious groups used to carry away the girls of the conquered group.
8. Paisacha vivah: This is the least acceptable form of marriage. A woman who is seduced when asleep or unconscious or when incapable of protecting herself is given the status of the wife.
Of these eight forms of marriage, Brahma vivaha is considered to be the best marriage where a girl is given to a boy of merit in the same caste or in a caste of equal status. Both bride and groom are competent enough to give consent.