Hindu Custom of Marriage

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Hindu Custom of Marriage Hinduism began in Ancient India thousands of years ago. Hindu customs differ greatly from the ones we practice in the western world. This paper discusses the Hindu custom of marriage and the expectations of those to be wed. Men are expected to marry in order to carry on the family lineage. Women are encouraged to marry to help relieve their financial burden from their parents (Sullivan 135). A wedding occurs after a man has finished his studies, attained the permission of his teacher, bathed, and performed the ritual for homecoming. The father of the girl dresses and adorns his daughter, and receives 2-4 cows and bulls (O'Flaherty 101). The man and his wife to be walk around a fire seven times while they affirm their marriage vows to the accompanied verses from the Veda (Sullivan 135). The Lawbook of Manu contains a list of characteristics a wife should not have. She should not come from a family that has abandoned the rituals, a family with no boys, one that does not chant the Veda. Some more characteristics that are not acceptable are women with hairy bodies, who have consumption, weak digestion, bad memories, and also leprosy. Women that are redheads, have extra limbs, are sickly, bald, talk too much, are sallow, too fat or too thin, too tall or too dwarfish, past their prime, or lacking a limb or fond of quarreling are also not acceptable for marriage. An offensive name can determine a woman's worth. Bad names include ones that have to do with a constellation, tree, or river, low caste names, names of mountains, and birds or snakes. Slave names and fearsome names are also to be avoided. Women with these types of names are not to be married according to the characteristics that must be met for a woman to be acceptable for marriage. A woman fit for marriage should have complete limbs, a pleasant name, should walk like a swan or elephant, have fine hair on her body and on her head, delicate limbs, and should not have big teeth. A man should take a wife of the same class (O'Flaherty 101-102), but if a marriage does take place across caste boundaries, then it is almost always the woman marrying into a higher caste (Fuller 14). Marriages are often arranged while the girl is only a child. The Manava Dharma Sastra and other legal texts "envision that a man of thirty marry a girl of twelve" (Sullivan 135).

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