Marriage, which in Sanskrit is termed as “Vivaah“, can certainly be defined as a sacred institution where two souls of a man and a woman come together and bind themselves in one single thread of commitment, love and togetherness for eternity. Though marriages its customs and rituals may be different in different cultures around the world but the basic meaning remains the same.
Hindu matrimony or vivaah in the context of Veda can certainly be defined as a holy union between a man and a woman so that they can come together and follow the path of Dharma meaning religion, Artha meaning material possessions, and in the end Kama meaning physical desire. According to Vedas, marriage is certainly not any kind of a contract bounded by legal formalities but it is viewed as Samsara’s meaning sacraments as Hindu families are patriarchal. Whereas an English marriage is certainly viewed as a legal contract or social acknowledgement of the union of a man and woman, which can create kinship and includes interpersonal relationship eventually described as intimate and sexual.
As it is described in Vedas, vivaah is certainly a gateway at once to earthly life of pleasure progress, prosperity and joy and viewed as an altar of elevation and a way to reach divine spirituality. It also involves social acknowledgement of the union as it results in future generations.
There are different types of Hindu matrimony, which can be found existed through ancient times and got forwarded into modern times. According to Manusmriti, or the laws of Manu eight different types of Hindu marriages or vivaah can be found though not all of them has social sanction or acknowledged by the society. They are briefly discussed below:
Brahma vivaah: In this particular type of Hindu matrimony, a boy right after his Brahmacharya gets eligible for marriage and the parents find a worthy bride and arrange the ceremony. There was no dowry system of any kind and the boy was chosen according to the qualities described in Vedas. This was so far the best form of marriage.
Daiva vivaah: In this type a girl is well groomed with ornaments and gets married to a priest during any sacrifice. Though it is considered an inferior form of marriage as it derogates womanhood.
Arsha vivaah: This type of marriages used to happen only when the bride’s parents couldn’t arrange for the expenses of marriage and the bride used to be on the verge of the time fixed for marriage. Then the groom after giving a pair of bull and a cow to the guardians of the brides used to marry the girl.
Gandharva vivaah: This can be viewed as a form of love marriages without the consent of the society and the family. When a boy and a girl gets married secretly without informing anyone that used to be termed as Gandharva Vivaah in Vedas.
Some other types of Hindu vivaahs include Prjapatya vivaah, Asura vivaah, Raksha vivaah and others like them.
Though in today’s modern world, the view of marriage is readily changing and it is, most of time is arranged by matrimonial agencies or many a time the boy and a girl chooses to do love marriage. No matter how much the ceremonies or customs may change, the basic value of Hindu matrimony will always be there considering it as a holy union.