The concept of arranged marriages in India traces its origin to the early Vedic times. For royal families, a ceremony known as the swayambar would be arranged for the bride. Suitable suitors from all over the kingdom were invited to either compete in some competition to win-over the bride. The custom was that the bride has the right to choose her husband herself. But for commoners, the concept of arranged marriage still sporadically exists seeing that the society is slowing trending away from this norm.
The same can be said too of the dowry practice: a system where it is customary for a vast sum of money or other forms of treasures be presented to the bridegroom in consideration of the woman’s entitlement or share of the family’s wealth. It was typically comprised of portable valuables such as jewelry that a bride could exercise control over throughout her life.
Contrary to the times in which we live, divorce was never an issue. Hindus consider marriage a sacrilege. A couple is normally called upon to take the sacred oath of holy matrimony before fire-god agni as their primary witness. This is usually done by circumambulating the fire seven times. There is this Hindu theory which purports that ‘a man must leave his mother and father and cleave unto his wife and shall become of not only one body, but also one heart, mind, body and soul.’ The fact that a couple can love each other in flesh and blood finds its origin deep within the spirit or soul. By becoming spiritual soulmates, it leaves no room for divorce which is considered a taboo in Indian society. But times are changing even in India too. Weddings festivities are accorded the highest pomp and splendor. The occasion usually calls for extensive decorations, colors, music, dance, costumes, rituals and feasts. It sometimes last for several days.