Introduction :

Marriage is defined as “the legal or formal
recongnisation of unification of two people as partners involved in a personal
relationship (historically and in some jurisdictions specifically a union
between a man and a woman). Through time, the process of conducting and
carrying out this process has gone a phenomenal change. All through the ages
and centuries, marriage has witnessed a dynamic evolution. There has been a
major spectrum of factors for altering the process of marriage and moulding it
and recasting it into the way we see it today. As we’ve read in biology, “every
process is followed by a series of processes” – be it the most complex
phenomenon like the formation of celestial bodies and the milky way galaxy and
the mother earth itself and that how life originated or the simplest of daily
life examples that we come across in every walk of life. Nevertheless,
according to Hindu mythology, Marriage is one of the 16 “Sanskars” or
sacraments that a person has to essentially follow. In today’s respect,
marriage is no more a social need to unify two people but is also safeguarded
by several rights and duties.

 

Marriage
: In the historic era

This era is being
referred to the earliest of civilizations and in Rome and Mesopotamia. Marriage in ancient Mesopotamia was of vital
importance to the society, literally, because it ensured the continuation of
the family line and provided social stability. Arranged marriages were the
norm, in which the couple had often never met, and there were even bridal
auctions where women were sold to the highest bidder, but human relationships
in ancient Mesopotamia were just as complex and layered as those today and part
of that complexity was the emotion of love. Contrasted with romantic love and a
couple sharing their lives together, however, is the `business side’ of
marriage and sex. It was reported by Herodotus that once in her lifetime, a
woman had to sit outside of the temple and offer herself for sex to any random
stranger. This custom was thought to ensure the fertility of the woman and also
continued prosperity of the community. A woman’s virginity was considered
requisite for a marriage, so unmarried women didn’t take part in this. The
practice was termed as ‘sacred prostitution’ by Herodotus. What could be a more
inhuman practice than this! Sex was considered essential and the couples were
forced to produce kids immediately after their marriage so that none of the
gets en gaged in extra-marital affair. Childlessness was considered as a
curse and the man could marry another woman in case his wife turns out to be
infertile and fails to produce kids. The first wife had to choose her husband’s
mistress and it was her responsibility to make sure that she chooses the woman
who succeeds in pleasing and satisfying her man. Divorce often carried a stigma
and the woman could seek divorce if her husband if he tortures her and causes
domestic violence. A husband could divorce his wife if she is infertile alongwith
the returning of the dowry.

 

 

 

Marriage in terms
of Indian context :

 

1.) 
The Monarchial Rule :

During the rule of the kings and queen,
marriage was not only considered as a social and personal need but was also
used as a political tool. members
of the ruling dynasties  There was a
practice called as Royal Intermarriage wherein it was a common practice of
marrying into the already ruling royal families. It was more commonly done in
the past as part of strategic diplomacy for political interests. The princess of another territory and the queen-to
be of her fiancé was considered as a treaty
to the king and served as a method for political ties and for maintaining
healthy relations. The society still used to be patriarchal and the male
dominance prevailed in the society. Though the royal women had a say in the
family and in courts the but their say was often considered as an interruption
in the jurisdiction. Women were considered as possessions and marriage was
often carried by a huge amount and quantity of dowry. However, polygamy had its
roots clinched in the society. The king was often complemented with a large
number of wives and keeps.  the
fighting enemy-men were to be beheaded and killed and young (Hindu) women were
to be abducted to fill up the harem. As such the Islamic women were treated in
Muslim society as chattels only for creating progenies. The Hindu women taken
as prisoners were simple objects of sexual gratification. If anyone became a
queen in this process, it was a token. The Hindu women needed to be converted
to Islam first and yet she would be one amongst the other Muslim queens. This
actually questioned the dignity of women and challenged it. The decision of the
king could just not be questioned and there were no rules and regulations to
safeguard women and to provide them equal status.

 

2.)  The Pre-Independence era :

This was the
time when the British rule existed in the “colonised India”. This was the time
when the Indian society was overshadowed by the so-called superior British
society. There were certain social evils prevailing in the Indian society in
the name of marriage like Child marriage, Sati, etc. These social evils were
strongly challenged, discouraged and abolished by the kings and the British
supremacies. The then Governor-General of India, Lord William Bentick stood
strongly opposite of the practice of Sati and succeeded in plucking out it’s
roots from the Indian society.This was the time when the Indian society was
undergoing massive changes. It was also the high time when the Indian women
actually started to feel the contrast between them and the British women. Women
actually decided to step out of their homes and fight for their rights. This
affected the scene of marriage in Indian society profoundly .Both women and men
were given equal status in the society and polygamy was also controlled to a
certain extent. Though there was not a certain set of specific rules and
regulations written down. However, there were certain ‘Acts’ passed by the
British government that actually safeguarded women and marriages. The Acts like
the Sati ( prevention ) Act, 1829 and the Child Marriage Restraint Act which
was passed in 1929 were some of the remarkable acts that changed the face of
history forever. Yet, there was another golden period on it’s way. It was the
Post-Independence or the Modern Era.

 

3.)  The Post – Independence
Era :

The post
independence era marks the time after Mother India gloriously got freedom from
the British rule. With this, came the framing of the Constitution for the Nation.
The Constitution guarantees certain marital rights and regulations to it’s
citizen irrespective of their sex and also pulls a brake on marital evils like
domestic violence, atrocities against men and women, dowry and polygamy.
Through the decades, ‘marriage’ has been through several forms. Due to the
patriarchy still existing in our society, it is often the women who fall prey
to marital evils. To eradicate them, the makers of our Constitution have framed
certain rules and regulations in the name of Acts. They have been listed below
along with what they state.

 


Commission of Sati
Prevention Act, 1987 – It provides more effective prevention of the Sati
practice and thus safeguarding women.


Dowry Prohibition
Act, 1961 – It prohibits the giving and seeking dowry from the bride and her
family.


Protection of women
from domestic violence Act, 2005 – It is an Act to protect women from all sort
of atrocities and violation and also takes into account the case of women who
have been or are in a relation with the abuser and are facing violence in any
terms, be it – sexual, verbal, physical, etc.


Dissolution of
Muslim marriages Act, 1939 – It grants Muslim women the permission and right to
dissolve their marriage.


Indian Christian
Marriage Act, 1872 – It contains the various provisions under which Christian
women are safeguarded from the marital atrocities and may divorce among the
Christian community.


Indian Penal Code,
1860 – The IPC contains various provision against dowry, dowry death, marital
rape, domestic violence, etc.


The Hindu Marriage
Act, 1855 – This was the first act to introduce monogamy and divorce was
allowed on certain specific grounds

      Apart from the above listed Acts, there
are still many acts that are related to              marriage and to safeguard them. .

 

Conclusion

Though
marriage is a very sacred and pious custom, but it has been hit and affected
severely by the various social evils of the society which were prevalent since
ages. This is a true fact that a massive change does not happen overnight. The
marital evils will slowly and gradually eradicate from the society. Positive
actions combined with positive thoughts definitely lead to success and since
every grey cloud has a silver lining, I strongly believe that isn’t far when
we’ll see a completely different and developed face of marriage and marital
customs.

 

 

     
Bibliography :

1.)  www.legalservicesindia.com/article/article/right-to-marry-1001-1.html

2.)  https://edugeneral.org/blog/history/important-acts-in-india-before-independence/

3.)  https://unacademy.com/course/important-acts-in-india-before-independence/S9T4XL8Z

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