INTRODUCTION them. Over the time different rituals have


                                India defines diversity, thus
diversity is seen in every aspect of Indian life starting from food & clothing
to customs & traditions. It is reflected in Indian marriages as well. In
Indian society marriage is a highly sacred Instituiton.  Marriage has been a very important part of the
Indian Society. 1Marriage
is a legalised union between man and woman, it is a socially recognised and
approved relationship. Marriage does not take place only between two people but
it is a union of  two families and a
strong bond is created between them. Over the time different rituals have evolved
according to different religions and culture.


                            In ancient times polyandry and polygyny
types of marriage prevailed and it is still evident in some of the religions.
It was believed that marriage bought two half distinct lives together and after
marriage husband and wife were not considered different entities but they were
considered to be one soul. The main function of Marriage was the continuity of
the race by bearing children and to impart cultural heritage. There are several
factors for selecting a bridegroom such as intelligent , wealth, good
character, etc. There are some factors on the basis of which brides were
selected such as girl should be endowed with beauty, intelligent, good family,
absence of disease and girl should have a brother. Inter caste Marriages were
permitted during the ancient times.

                                      Marriage can take place between women of lower
caste with the men of higher caste but vice versa was not allowed. Custom of
dowry did not prevail during ancient time as the groom takes away the bride
realizing that she would be deprived of her family. Hence he could not think of
demanding dowry or donation. On the contarary, it was the duty of the bridegroom
to provide some gifts to bride and her parents. After marriage girl has to give
up her father’s gotra and she had to adopt her husband’s gotra. A boy was
allowed to marry only when he had finished his Vedic studies. Minimum age of marriage
for boy was 20 and minimum age for girl was 15. The society was Patriarchal but
the status of women was better than the later ages as women were given
education, freedom of movement, 2Niyoga
and widow remarriage, prevailed and chid marriage and sati system were absent.
Divorce were allowed under very special condition, it was rarely seen in the


Medieval period, position of women deteriorated.  In Medieval times Marriage was not based on
love, most of the marriages were a form of political arrangement. Women were
not allowed to choose her life partner; most of the time women didn’t even know
whom she is going to wed. The decision was in the hands of bride’s parents as
to whom she will marry. The arrangement of such marriages was
based on monetary worth. The family of the girl who was to be married would
give dowry, or donation, to the boy to whom she was marrying. The dowry would
be presented to the groom at the time of the marriage.  It was during the medieval period that the
practice of dowry started.

                                            The Inter caste Marriages were forbidden, and polygamy
prevailed in the royal classes.  Also, child
Marriages known as ‘Bal Vivah’ began during this period. Girls were married off
at the age of  8-10. They did not have easy
access to education due to which they were not able to work without the consent
of there husband and in laws so they were depended on there husband. This made
the status of women very regressive as they were confined to work within the
boundaries of their houses. This creates inequality between men and women and
many detrimental practices have also evolved in this period such as Sati System,
Restriction on Widow Marriage, Jauhar, Purdah System and widow were regarded as
inauspicious on the occasions of festival. Women were bought and sold,
abducted, forcibly married and forced into slavery or prostitution.




2 Niyoga
(a form of widow remarriage)