Marriage is believed to be a stable relationship in which a man and a woman attain the social permission to have children involving in the right to have sexual relations. Since ancient times, in India marriage is known as a religious sacrament and is obligatory for all the Dwijas except those who wish to take up the life of a Brahmachari of professed religious disciplinary or other simplicity.
Marriage is a civil contract according to the Hindu Law and also with serious obligations. Hindus believe marriage to be a religious duty and do not encourage the idea of it being a social contract or just a way to the enjoyment or procreation of children. Marriage is essential for every Hindu, so that the individual can get the opportunity to repay his parental and social debts. Among Hindus, marriage is considered to be a holy union between the man and a woman for begetting a son. Marriage is necessary for salvation and to perform religious duties.
Hindu's marriage is such a pious institution that it does not dissolve after the death of any one of the partners. Marriage is indispensable among Hindus and a person, who does not marry is taken to be contempt of religious laws. Marriage is the most important of all sanskaras or Hindu sacraments. Marriage is thought to be a sacred duty among Hindus. This duty is performed by every parent must for their children; otherwise they owe him no respect.
A family with an unmarried daughter after the age of puberty is considered to a burden under the annoyance of Gods. No male member is pressurized to marry after the age of puberty. This duty of getting the children married is usually performed by the parents or elder brother. The happiness of a man in the next world depends upon the number of male descendants, who make offerings for the peace of his soul at regular intervals; thus marrying is an essential task in the Hindu society.
The Vedas decree man and his wife together must experience that dharma together. In all religious ceremonies, the husband and wife sit side by side to offer the deity. In a yajna or at any marriage ceremony of the children, the parents come together for the worshipping. Once Brahma was performing a puja and his wife, Saraswati was not present; therefore, Brahma married Savitri so that she could sit along with him for the performance of the yajna. However, without marriage a man also cannot enter into the institution of Grihasthashram.
Mahabharata has clearly pointed out that an unmarried girl is not allowed to enter heaven, even if she has been a religious individual. Similarly, a man shall endure painful stages, unless his male descendants do not properly observe death ceremonies. According to Hindu scriptures, after entering Grihasthashram through the institution of marriage a man can attain his fullest development of life in all spheres like dharma meaning religious uplift, arth or wealth, kama or sexual pleasure and moksha or liberation from earthly bondages. Thus, in Hindu marriage, Dharma is primary; while sex is secondary. Hindu philosophies recognize the spiritual ideal of marriage and regard this relation as indissoluble.
Forms of marriage
1. Polyandry: In this form of marriage, one wife is regarded as the wife of all brothers. All the brothers have the right to carry out sexual relation with her. Among the Todas, this custom is still prevalent. In some cases, the husbands may not be brothers but ones living under one roof.
2. Polygyny: In this system of marriage, one man has more than two wives at a time. It is popularly known polygamy. This form of marriage is common among the Muslims in India. In ancient days the Hindus also followed it existed when the chieftains and Rajahs reined their states. However, after the alteration of Hindu Law, polygamy is considered as a crime under the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.
3. Monogamy: As the name suggests; the idea is of one man and one wife. This is the main type of marriage and is said to produce the highest type of affection, sincerity and devotion. The children are also well attended.
4. Companionate Marriage: This system is non-existent now; this type of marriage is the marriage of two persons based on the understanding that the marriage can be dissolved simply by mutual consent, as long as there are no children.
5. Experimental Marriage: Experimental marriages are those, where the partners first find out the compatibility before settling down to a life of permanent union.