Among the Hindus, vivaha or wedding is considered a sarira samskara, i.e., sacraments sanctifying the body, which each and every individual must go through in life. In India, marriages are usually equated with arranged marriages significantly due to the social structure. It’s a topic that’s controversial and widely debated.
When you watch elaborate Indian arranged marriages and analyse the complexity and effort involved to make it successful, you may wonder how and when this practice started.
Interestingly, a recent research conducted by a postgraduate student of Amity University, New Delhi (national capital} has brought to light the finding that arranged marriages in India originated during the Vedic period of Indian history. The ceremony and the the} institution of arranged marriages also took its shape during this time.
The Hindu Dharmashastras
According to the research, Hindu wedding is claimed to be derived from laws interpreted in the Dharmashastras or sacred texts, which has its roots in the Vedas, the oldest surviving documents from the Vedic era. Therefore, arranged marriages can be said to have at first risen to prominence in the Indian subcontinent when the historical Vedic religion gradually gave way to classical Hinduism.
These scriptures are said to have been written by male Aryan sages who inhabited the areas across the Indus River, long before the word “Hindu” came to be associated with faith. “Hindu” was simply an evolved Persian word for the people who lived across the stream “Indus” or “Indu”.
The Laws of Manu samhita
The Manu samhita that was written in around 200 B.C., is known to have laid down the marital laws, which is followed even nowadays. Manu, one of the foremost influential interpreters of these scriptures, documented the Manu samhita. Traditionally accepted as one of the supplementary arms of the Vedas, The Laws of Manu or Manava Dharma Shastra is one of the standard books within the Hindu canon, presenting the norms of domestic, social, and religious life in India.
The Four Aims of Life
These texts mention the four main aims of Hindu life: Hindu deity, Artha, Kama, and Moksha. Hindu deity diagrammatical the harmony between “temporal interests and religious freedom”.Artha mentioned the “acquisitive instinct, and meaning man’s enjoyment of wealth”. Kama diagrammatical the natural and was connected with satisfying the emotional, sexual, and aesthetic urges of man. Moksha diagrammatical the tip of life and therefore the realization of Associate in Nursing inner spirituality in man.
The Four Stages of Life
It further mentions that these four aims of life were to be accomplished by conducting life in four stages which were – “bhramacharya, grihastha, vanaspratha, and samnyasa”.The second stage grihastha dealt with wedding and included the goals of Dharma, progeny, and sex. The Vedas and the Smritis thus gave an authentic written foundation to the institution of wedding. As Vedas and also the Manu Veda is the earliest accessible document it can be observed that wedding started with this era.
The Four Hindu Castes
The Law of Manu divided the society into four castes: Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishya, and Sudras. In India, the maintenance of caste system depends on a system of arranged marriages. Caste is a very important determinant in an arranged wedding. Manu recognized the likelihood of wedding with the following lower caste as producing legitimate children but condemned the wedding of an Aryan with a girl of lower caste. Matrimony (a rule requiring wedding within a specified social or kinship group) was the rule which governed the Hindu society as it was believed that marrying outside one’s caste would lead to some serious ritual pollution.
Hindu Wedding Rituals
Hindu wedding ceremony is actually a Vedic yajna or fire-sacrifice, during which the Aryan deities are invoked within the archaic Indo-Aryan style. The first witness of a Hindu wedding is the fire-deity or Agni, and by law and tradition, no Hindu wedding is deemed complete unless in the presence of the Sacred fire, and seven circumambulations have been made around it by the bride and the groom together. The Vedas set out in detail the ritualistic importance of the nuptial ceremony. The seven vows of a Hindu wedding are also mentioned within the Vedic texts.
The eight kinds of wedding
It was the Vedas that represented the eight kinds of marriages in Hinduism: The Brahma, Prajapatya, Arsa, Daiva, Asuras, and Gandharva, Rakshasas and Pisaka marriages. The first four kinds of marriages combined together can be classified as arranged marriages as a result of these forms actively involve the parents. They’re the ones who decide on the groom and the bride has no say in the wedding, characteristics generic to the arranged marriages practiced among the Hindus.
Role of astrology in arranged wedding
Hindus believe astrology. The potential couple’s horoscopes have to be analysed and “suitably matched” for the wedding to take place. Hindu pseudoscience, a system that originated in ancient India, was documented by sages in the Vedic scriptures. The origin of arranged marriages in India and its dignified past comes from the wonderful specificity of Vedic pseudoscience.
So, the evolution of arranged marriages has been a gradual process with its roots within the Vedic period. The period prior to it, i.e., the Indus valley Civilization has no written scriptures or scripts regarding this era. Thus there’s an intensive want for deciphering the script of the Indus civilization to have an idea about the society and wedding customs of this era to open avenues for further research.