Marriage and Beyond >> Wedding Legalities

Hindu Weddings

Hindu marriage Act came into force on 18 May 1955. It governs Hindu marriages and has brought about important changes to the law on this subject prevailing earlier. This act applies to any person who is Hindu by religion in any of its forms, and also to Buddhists, Jains, and Sikhs. Conditions for a Valid Hindu Marriage. Bigamy is not permitted as per the law. Neither party should have a spouse living and polygamy permitted by ancient Hindu law is now prohibited. Bigamy is now a punishable offence under the Indian Penal code.

Divorced Person: If a person wants to marry while the spouse is living, a divorce should be obtained. Divorce is granted by court on valid grounds. Prohibited relationships. The bride and the bride-groom should not be within degrees of prohibited relationship; otherwise the marriage would be void.

The prohibited relationships are:

  • A lineal ascendant, e.g., father and daughter; son and mother.
  • Wife or husband of a lineal ascendant or descendant e.g., Father-in-law and widowed daughter-in-law; widowed mother-in-law and son-in-law.
  • Widow of the brother or of father's brother or of mother's brother, or of grandfather's brother or of grandmother's brother.
  • Brother and sister; uncle and niece, aunt and nephew, or children of brother and sister or of two brothers or of two sisters.

Custom saved: Under customary law certain marriages are valid though the above mentioned rule is contravened. In South India marriages between children of brother and sister and between a male and his sister's daughter are common and are valid by custom.

Parties should not be sapindas of each other: Sapinda means "of the same body." Etymologically every one is a sapinda of everyone else since all human beings are descended from the supreme Being. Sapinda relationship extends as far as the 3rd generation in the line of ascent through the mother and fifth in the line of ascent through the father. Two persons are sapindas of each other if one is a lineal ascendant of the other within the limits of sapinda relationship or if they have a common lineal ascendant who is within the limits of sapinda relationship with reference to each of them.

Marriageable Age: The amendment to this effect was issued in 1978, and as per this the bridegroom should have completed the age of 21 years and the bride the age of 18 years at the time of the marriage. The question of guardianship in marriage does not arise since the parties to be married are to be majors. If the condition as to minimum age is infringed, the validity of the marriage is not affected. But the parties (bride or bridegroom as the case may be) shall be punishable 15 days simple imprisonment or fine up to Rs 1,000/- or both. Effect of Idiocy or Lunacy: If either party is a lunatic or an idiot, the marriage is voidable. It can be annulled by a decree of nullity and this is also a ground for divorce.

Effect of Impotence: A decree of nullity may be granted on the ground that the marriage has not been consummated owing to the impotence of the respondent.

Marriage ceremonies under the Act: The Hindu marriage Act does not prescribe any particular ceremonial for marriage. It provides that a Hindu marriage may be solemnized in accordance with the customary rites and ceremonies of either party thereto and where such rites include the Saptapadi, the marriage becomes complete when the seventh step is taken.

Registration of marriages: For the purpose of facilitating proof of Hindu marriage provision for registration may be made by the State Government, under the Hind Marriage act of 1955. The particulars relating to the marriage may be entered in a Marriage Register maintained under the rules made by the State Government. It is open to the State Government to make the registration of marriage compulsory but this has not been done so far.


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