Early societies for social as well as political reasons had to have secure means for the perpetuation of the species and an institution to handle the granting of property rights. Marriage handled these needs.
Arranged marriage Arranged marriages have a history since fourth century in Indian culture. In fact, it is consider as a foundation of the Indian marriage system. The culture of arranged marriages has still survived modernization and industrialization in India. Ancient times, the marriages took place while the couple was very young. In fact, the boy`s parents searched for a matching alliance for him in his preadolescent age and then approached the girl`s family with the proposition. There used to be a middleman to look for alliance and propose it to each family about the match. He even acted as a negotiator, also would suggest a suitable date and hour for the marriage to take place after matching the bride and the groom`s birth charts, he further also would facilitate in decision of the venue suitable for each families. Thought in that era the Indian weddings took place at the girl`s town, at their homes. In a lot of ways, the bride`s family was the host for the function from the venue to expenses.
In India, Caste system has a long history. In ancient times, when barter system prevailed as a every day means of transaction, every caste had its own significance and a certain norm of duties. It was understood that a shoe maker`s son would become a shoe maker and a king`s would rule the kingdom after him. A particular social group of an individual not only decided the profession of an individual but also entailed a certain social class and family conduct. However, though these professional duties were limited to the sons of the families to carry forward, it was important that they also pass on the family genre and procreate the creed. Hence, marriages took place strictly within the same castes.
In the ancient India, especially in Hindu marriages, there are certain references of polygamy and polyandry for political as well as social reasons, they are considered criminal offenses today. However, falling in love before marriage was seen as a sin, a kind of insanity. Still we do find the references of amorous relationships between princes and princesses. In the medieval age, there were Swayamwaras arranged by Kings for their daughters, where women get to choose the groom of their choice and men would have to coo them with a presentation of their abilities. These means sound more modern rather than ancient. There are also mentions of abductions of the women by men for marriage purpose. In fact, that was one acceptable way of acquiring the bride of one`s choice. It was considered rather gallant of a man to display such act. In the later days, rights of women or even men while selecting their life partners changed due to social changes and wars, due to mixed inhabitant and cultures. It became a parent`s duty to search for and invite the matching alliances for their children. It became necessary to perform a diligence check on any alliance before getting into a deal. Yes, marriages sure turned into deals with the dowry systems getting attached to it. Women lost all the dignity in the market of marriage and became just a commodity to be exchanged in lieu of removing the burden of social and moral responsibility from their family. As this became favor from the groom`s family over to the bride`s it was a right to have compensated for that in terms of dowry, which took away most of the wealth and pride from the bride`s family. However, the times sure have changed recently and marriages are performed keeping the dignity (especially of the bride`s family) intact. It is observed through out history, a woman was considered a possession of first her father and then her husband. MahabharataHer opinions and views were not considered for any decision making and even about her own duties and allowances. Most references to marriage in the ancient texts suggest that the Aryans were monogamous. However, some references to polygamy and polyandry have been found in the Hindu epic of Mahabharata. In medieval India, the marriage was compulsory for all the girls except for those opted asceticism. Brahmin girls were married between ages eight and ten from sixth or century onwards up to the modern times. Polygamy was permitted to all who could afford, and it was especially popular among Kshatriyas for political reasons. According to the Manasollasa, the king should marry a Kshatria girl of noble birth for a chief queen though he is permitted to have Vaishya or Shudra wives for pleasure.
However, there were exceptions are seen in the prehistoric era where women could have their ways in regard to ruling kingdoms and acting as spiritual guides to their sons and preceding their husbands on political fronts. At the same time, ancient world had practices that set women up as trophies of war and competitions.
child marriagesThere were eight different ways this heavenly union took place. However, child marriage was not prevalent in ancient India which became common in medieval ages due to political anarchy. The birth of a woman child was looked upon as an ill omen and a custom of killing girl fetus became more and more common. Talking of child marriages, it was seen that fixing of marriages while the women child still in the cradle also became prevalent due to the feeling of insecurity among parents. A woman without a lawful man relation in her life was a potential social disaster and hence the custom of sati became prominent. Women preferred to have burned themselves with their husband`s pyre rather than living insecure with prying behavior of men around them.
However, thanks to modernization and globalization, and changing status of women in India, the custom of sati got diminished for good. Likewise, there had been and still are revolutions taking place against a lot of mal practices in the institution of marriage.
Divorce, while not banned, was a rare occasion. Marriage was seen as a bond for life, but if divorce did occur, generally the couple`s possessions were divided up equally, and any children stayed with the mother.
Once a couple was married, it was common for the groom to live with his bride`s family, although sometimes the couple was given their own place to live. The groom was suppose to look after and provide for his bride`s family, and he was to be subservient to his mother-in-law. There wasn`t typically a formal honeymoon, but the young couple was given plenty of alone time.
In the past, the selection of the couple was based on Shastric ideas. The guardians of the girl should not only see the boy`s body, but also consider his conduct, family means, education and repute. They should choose one whose age is more than the girl. The boy should be sound in body and in mind and his family should be free from hereditary diseases.
Source : indianetzone.com