Traditional Marriage in India

One of the major religions of the world, Hinduism offers a divine definition on the concept of marriage. According to the religious texts and manuscripts, Hindu marriage alliances are not just for one life but continue for seven lives. According to the Hindu dharma, the marriage between a man and woman is a commitment of a lifetime. It is one of the strongest bonds of love and dedication between a man and a woman. Most of the Hindu Marriage ceremonies span for several days. Traditionally, Hindu marriage mantras are in Sanskrit. With times, local language is also used to conduct the rituals though most of the Vedic marriage chants are in Sanskrit. The rituals of the marriage have also changed with times.

The Hindu Marriage has many rituals and ceremonies associated with it. The Hindu communities and castes in India have some common customs and traditions of marriage. There are many pre-wedding rituals in a Hindu matrimonial function the most common of them is the sagaai or engagement. The engagement ceremony is usually a family function with close friends and relatives attending. The girl and the boy exchange rings and vows for long-term commitment ahead. Gifts and sweets are exchanged between two families. A small gathering of friends and relatives over food takes place. In most of the Hindu communities in India, the engagement ceremony is a fun-filled event.

Most of the customs and tradition for a Hindu community is based on the region and the family traditions. Another very important ritual in a Hindu marriage is the saat phere or Saptapadi. The word Saptapadi is a Sanskrit word and it means seven steps. This ritual is very common in most of the Hindu communities in India. The yagna or the holy fire is in the centre of the mandap (the place where the wedding rituals are conducted). The couple after completing the rituals takes seven steps or seven circles around the holy fire. The groom leads and the bride follows in the first four circles. In the other three, the bride leads and the groom follows. In some Hindu communities in India, the groom holds the brides right hand and circles around the fire. In the seven circles or seven steps, the bride and groom vows to take care of each other at all times. They also vow to be each other strength in times of crisis. The groom and the bride additionally promise to love and respect each other in this life and are partners in all the other seven lives.

In a Hindu Marriage, the caste system is prevalent and many communities in India still believe in marrying in the same caste. According to the Hindu Varna System, the Brahmin are considered to be occupying the highest status. Under the Brahmin, there are many sub-groups like the Smartha or Advaitic Brahmin, Koti Brahmin, Vaidiki Brahmin, Sthanika Brahmin, Shivalli Smartha Brahmin, Ambalavasi Brahmin, Maharashtrian Devrukhe Brahmin, Sarola Brahmin and Chitrapur Saraswat Brahmin. Some well-known regional Brahmin communities in India are Iyengar Brahmin, Dvaitic Brahmin Madhva Kannada Brahmin, Shivalli Brahmin, Kanyakubja Brahmin, Bengali Vaid Brahmin, Maithil Brahmin and Telugu Madhwa Brahmin.

Another popular caste in India that follows the Hindu marriage rituals and customs is the Bania. The Bania community members are mostly in trade and business. Majority of the community members are settled in the Northern Indian states. Under the Bania caste, there are many sub groups such as Gupta, Agarwal, Barnwal, Bharbhunja, Garg, Mahuri and Maheshwari. The Rajputs, the Jat, the Kayastha, the Leva Patil, the Lohana and the Padmashali are some Hindu community of India, which also believes in the Hindu marriage rituals and traditions.