Sunday, January 30, 2011

Gandharva Vivah

Mutual love and consent between bride and the bridegroom brings about this kind of marriage. This kind of marriage is a voluntary union of a maiden with her beloved. Parents and kinsmen do not play any role in such marriages. Sexual intercourse before marriage also may occur between the couple. It is not regarded as a prohibition for their following marriage. Kama Sutra says this kind of marriage to be an ideal one. Hindu mythology literature has such type of marriages in abundance. Some of the well known mythological pairs are Bhima with Hidimba; Dushyant and Shakuntala; Kamdeva and Rati, Daksheya and Prajapati, Kach and Devyani, Arjuna with a servant maid and many more described in Sukh Sagar.

Svaymbara is another form of marriage and this existed in ancient times. This form of marriage depicts the choice of a hero as her bridegroom. The royalty of ancient times decided to choose a brave and righteous person as the bridegroom. So invitations were sent to the princes and the chieftains living close by and to distant kingdoms. The bride was allowed to select one from the gathered ones whom wished to put a garland round his neck and the marriage was complete.

The marriage of Nala and Damayanti took place in this process. In the nuptial knot ceremony of Prithviraj and Sanyukta, the bride had put a garland round the neck of a statue of Prithviraj. In some particular cases, a test was given to be completed by the competitors and the winner won the bride. This system was followed in Ramayana too; when Rama pulled the cord of Siva`s bow and married Sita. In Mahabharata, Arjuna shot through the eye of the rotating fish on the top of a shaft to marry Draupadi.

Swaymbara is usually not included in the 8 forms of traditional marriages. But it shares a close resemblance with Gandharva marriage. In this type of marriage, it is also allowed that, the father permits his daughter to choose her husband. Later, love and courtship comes along the way. In such cases, an ardent couple might have entered into a union without entering the religio-legal formalities. This is very common during wars. Later on, the union was legalized through a proper ceremony, thus it was an approved form.

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