A matrimony of caste prejudices.


We are merely starting a conversation. Not a new one. Not old either. But never irrelevant. Especially in a country with as many diverse cultures, customs, castes and religions. A country where marriage means meeting of two families, their beliefs, their social status, horoscopes and then finally maybe, if there’s a little room left, two individuals. Or maybe not.


We can blame it on our family, our parents to be more precise. “It’s perhaps because they’ve been brought up with that thought process. They’ve lived the ‘caste-driven’ life. They have never thought beyond the orthodox ways of life. Human beings have inertia/resistance for change, be it in any form.”


Agreed. But does that mean you stick to it? Who then will change the system?
We can even blame society. “Caste system is prevalent for centuries. People were discriminated based on religion, based on skin color in the west. It was common practice to marry someone in the same category of the caste and of the same religion. It was a custom. People are changing this notion and are now welcoming inter caste or religion marriages. People are more aware now. There were examples in history where people made bold moves to marry someone they loved irrespective of religion barriers. Sadly however it still prevails in some of the minds in our country this evil of caste and religion discrimination.”


Caste system continues to plague our society in spite of so called progress. Thanks to media, it might have reduced but stories of suicides and honor killing continue.


Then again there are stories of Christian and Hindu weddings (unheard of before) where they end up respecting both religions and have two different weddings. People combine their beliefs and learn to lead a new life together. However, this is only true of love marriages. But in arranged or arranged-love marriages the first filter is still religion/caste. What about you? Would you be willing to break this mind block and re-look at your own prejudice, remove the filter and find someone you love, even if they belong to a different caste or religion?

Traditional Indian Marriage

Arranged marriage
Indian Wedding PictureCredits:

For centuries, arranged marriages have been the tradition in Indian society. Even today, the majority of Indians have their marriages planned by their parents and other respected family-members. In the past, the age of marriage was young. The average age of marriage for women in India has increased to 21 years, according to 2011 Census of India. In 2009, about 7% of women got married before the age of 18.

In most marriages the bride’s family provide a dowry to the bridegroom. Traditionally, the dowry was considered a woman’s share of the family wealth, since a daughter had no legal claim on her natal family’s real estate. It also typically included portable valuables such as jewellery and household goods that a bride could control throughout her life. Historically, in most families the inheritance of family estates passed down the male line. Since 1956, Indian laws treat males and females as equal in matters of inheritance without a legal will.Indians are increasingly using a legal will for inheritance and property succession, with about 20 percent using a legal will by 2004.

In India, the divorce rate is low — 1% compared with about 40% in the United States. These statistics do not reflect a complete picture, though. There is a dearth of scientific surveys or studies on Indian marriages where the perspectives of both husbands and wives were solicited in-depth. Sample surveys suggest the issues with marriages in India are similar to trends observed elsewhere in the world. The divorce rates are rising in India. Urban divorce rates are much higher. Women initiate about 80 percent of divorces in India.

“Opinion is divided over what the phenomenon means: for traditionalists the rising numbers portend the breakdown of society while, for some modernists, they speak of a healthy new empowerment for women.

Recent studies suggest that Indian culture is trending away from traditional arranged marriages. Banerjee et al. surveyed 41,554 households across 33 states and union territories in India in 2005. They find that the marriage trends in India are similar to trends observed over last 40 years in China, Japan and other nations. The study found that fewer marriages are purely arranged without consent and that the majority of surveyed Indian marriages are arranged with consent. The percentage of self-arranged marriages (called love marriages in India) were also increasing, particularly in the urban parts of India. A 2014 article reported that the proportion of “love marriages” has soared in India in the most recent decade, still some 70% of unions are arranged.


Vivaah – Hindu Matrimony

Vivaah – Hindu Matrimony
Hindu Matrimony

Marriage, which is termed in Sanskrit 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.