Hindu Marriage joins two individuals for life, so that they can pursue dharma (duty), artha (possessions), kama (physical desires), and moksha (ultimate spiritual release) together. It is a union of two individuals from the opposite sex as husband / wife and is recognized by law. In Hinduism, marriage is followed by traditional rituals for consummation. In fact, marriage is not considered complete or valid until consummation. It also joins two families together. Favorable colors are normally red and gold for this occasion.
The use of Jathakam or Janam Kundali (astrological chart at the time of birth) of the son/daughter to match with the help of a priest is common, but not universal. Parents also take advice from the Brahman called ‘Jothidar‘ in Tamil or ‘Panthulu or Siddanthi ‘ in Telugu and Kundali Milaan in North India who has details of many people looking to get married. Some communities, like the Brahmans in Mithila, use genealogical records (“Panjikas”) maintained by the specialists. Also the man and woman are given chance to talk and understand each other. Once there is an agreement then an auspicious time is chosen for the wedding to take place.
In recent years, with the onset of dating culture in India, arranged marriages have seen a marginal decrease, with prospective brides and grooms preferring to choose a spouse on their own and not necessarily only the one whom their parents find agreeable; this has been more pronounced in urban and suburban areas than rural regions.
The Modern Way
Many people believe that arranged marriage is the traditional form of marriage in India; however love marriage is a modern form, usually in urban areas. Love marriage differs from an “arranged marriage” in that the couples, rather than the parents, choose their own partner. Interestingly, there are various instances from ancient scriptures of Hinduism, of romantic love marriages that were accepted in ancient times. Somewhere in the course of time, arranged marriages became predominant and love marriages became unacceptable or in the least, frowned upon. Despite some love marriages, the vast majority of Hindus continue to have arranged marriages.
Symbolic Items Worn by Married Hindu Women
The married Hindu women in different parts of India follow different customs. Mostly Sindoor, Mangalsutra and Bangles are considered as signs of a married woman. In some places, in especially Eastern India, instead of Mangalsutra they put only vermilion on the hair parting, wear a pair of conch bangles (Shankha), red bangles (Pala) and an iron bangle on the left hand (Loha) while their husband is alive. In South India, a married woman is required to wear a necklace with a distinctive pendant called a Thali and silver toe-rings. Both are put on her by the husband during the wedding ceremony.
The pendant on the Thali is custom-made and its design is different from family to family. Apart from this, the married woman also wears a red vermilion (Sindoor) dot on her forehead called Kumkum and (whenever possible) flowers in her hair and colored glass Bangles. The married woman is encouraged to give up all of these when her husband dies. In the Kashmiri tradition, women wear a small gold chain (with a small gold hexagonal bead hanging from the chain) through their upper ear which is a sign of being married. The married woman in Kumaon Uttarakhand wear a yellow cloth called Pichoda.