(Last Updated on : 13/12/2013)
History of Indian Wedding says that early societies for social as well as political reasons had to have secure means for the perpetuation of the species and an institution to handle the granting of property rights and marriage was the institution for fulfilling that need.
In Indian culture arranged marriages have a history since fourth century. The culture of arranged marriages has still survived modernization and industrialization in India. Ancient times, the marriages took place while the couple was very young. In fact, the boy's parents searched for a matching alliance for him in his preadolescent age and then approached the girl's family with the proposition. There used to be a middleman to look for alliance and propose it to each family about the match. He even acted as a negotiator, also would suggest a suitable date and hour for the marriage to take place after matching the bride and the groom's birth charts, he further also would facilitate in decision of the venue suitable for each families. In Indian Weddings the bride's family was the host for the function.
In the past, the selection of the couple was based on Shastric ideas. The guardians of the girl should not only see the boy's body, but also consider his conduct, family means, education and repute. They should choose one whose age is more than the girl. The boy should be sound in body and in mind and his family should be free from hereditary diseases.
History of Indian Wedding points to the fact that especially in Hindu marriages, there are certain references of polygamy and polyandry for political as well as social reasons. However, falling in love before marriage was seen as a sin, a kind of insanity.
However, some references to polygamy and polyandry have been found in the Hindu epic of Mahabharata
. Polygamy was permitted to all who could afford, and it was especially popular among Kshatriyas for political reasons. According to the Manasollasa, the king should marry a Kshatriya girl of noble birth for a chief queen though he is permitted to have Vaishya
or Shudra wives for pleasure.
In medieval India, the marriage was compulsory for all the girls except for those opted asceticism. Brahmin girls were married between ages eight and ten. In the medieval age, Swayamvaras were arranged where women chose the groom and men would have to woo them with a presentation of their abilities. These means sound more modern rather than ancient. There are also mentions of abductions of the women by men for marriage purpose. In fact, that was one acceptable way of acquiring the bride of one's choice. It was considered rather gallant of a man to display such act.
In the later days, rights of women or even men while selecting their life partners changed due to social changes. It became a parent's duty to search for and invite the matching alliances for their children. Dowry became a major practice in marriage institutions and took away a large part of the parents' wealth.
Times have changed recently and marriages are performed keeping the dignity (especially of the bride's family) intact. Now a day whether it is a boy or a girl has their own opinion to choose life partners. Polygamy is not permitted today. Once a couple is married they have to live together.