Marriage does not become sanctimonious just by performance of Religious sacraments. Religious sacraments are just beliefs of the society. It is more finely understood in the Hindu Customary Law. Without pondering into the real customs and culture of our Country many of us go to criticise so many aspects involving the man and women relationship as degrading to our culture. Once, divorce was seen as a greatest sin on earth. Later the living relationship started to be seen as degrading our customary value. Such and baseless conceptions has kept the Suyamariyathai Thirumanam (self – respect Marriage) or otherwise called as Seerthirutha Tirumanam (Reformist Marriage) introduced by Thanhai Periyar beyond the reach of People. Very few practice it and mostly it is followed as a Social discipline for some Political Cadres. Even the legislative measure by amending the Hindu Marriage Act by the Madras Amendment Act 1967 has not contributed enough to popularize this system of Marriage. A proper understanding of the source and sanctity of this Reformist Marriage is necessary to give it a real place in the society. So the 12th edition of Mayne’s Treaties on Hindu Law and Usage revised by Justice Alladi Kuppuswami Retd. Chief Justice of Andhra Pradesh High Court is used as the research text for writing this Article. The 10th Edition of this Treaties was revised by Advocate Shri S. Srinivasa Iyyangar and the 11th edition was revised by Justice Shri N. Chandrasekhara Iyer Judge of the Supreme Court (as he was then). The Intellectual Stature of these Review authors stand to vouch for the reliability of this treaties in understanding our Tradition, Culture and personal Law.
The Main Source of our Hindu Law is the Sruthis - the verses heard from the god and Smrithis - commentaries on Sruthi by the sages. Marriage according to our Sruthis and smrithis is done in 8 ways. The Brahmana, Daiva, Arsh, Prajapatya, Asura, Ghandharva, Rakshasa and Paisacha. Different text on the traditional law of the country gives their own value and significance of these eight forms of marriage. But the text of Asvalayana declares that when a man marries after a mutual agreement has been made between the lover and the damsel as the gandharva Marriage. Manu declared Ghandharva lawful for the Kshatryas.
Mayne says The Gandharva Form of Marriage has been the subject of much misconception. Without seeking the assistance of well-known commentaries, an erroneous construction has been placed upon the test of Manu. Manu’s Text merely refers to the distinction that the Gandharva Marriage rests upon agreement and that it springs upon mutual Love. Just as the Marriage rites are not mentioned in connection with other forms no rites are mentioned here also. Thus it amply clear that the rites and practices are secondary in marriage. Marriage is possible even without a priest and even without a yellow thread but not without a consent of both the individuals. Marriage is a consensus of mind of the wedding couple a promise to each other that they will be equal partners in aspects of their life and a promise to the society that they will jointly be a productive component to the society. Where the consensus of even one of the partner is not free then the very marriage is a nullity in fact. Societal pressure and stigma factors cannot protect it.
According the Hindu customs there are 9 basic ceremonies to be performed during the marriage and ceremonies differ for each caste or sub caste. But what is essentially seen is the performance of Saptapdi that is taking seven steps around the fire(symbolically 3 rounds around the sacred fire with the bride and groom holding hands together). This rule is carefully preserved in the Codified Hindu Law which is named as the Hindu Marriage Act of 1955. Section 7 of the Act says “7. Ceremonies for a Hindu marriage. (1) A Hindu marriage may be solemnized in accordance with the customary rites and ceremonies of either party thereto. (2) Where such rites and ceremonies include the Saptapadi (that is, the taking of seven steps by the bridegroom and the bride jointly before the sacred fire), the marriage becomes complete and binding when the seventh step is taken”.
Moreover it could be seen that Even Saptapadi is not essential in many Hindu Marriages where the customs have not included it. That again implies that the Rites are the personal affairs of the family and the community practicing it. Every Community is given a free hand in deciding theirs Rites.
Marriage is the Core aspect of the Human Life. Process of Marriage needs to be simplified to the fast life of the present days for which the changes in law is very much essential. Development and adaptation of law to the present day needs is one determining factor of social Progress. Henceforth, when the Movement for eradication caste based Segregation of society and elimination of inequalities for creation of a Social Justice gained momentum, The Grand leader of the movement Thiru E. Ve Ramasamy popularly called as the Thanthai Periyar took these basic ceremony and rites propounded the new procedure of Marriage that could be and named it as the Suyamariyadhai Marriage. This is not an innovation into the Hindu Law but it is the evolution without compromise to the fundamental Principles of Tradition.
Under this law, Marriage is solemnised in the presence of relative, friends or other persons by each party declaring in any language understood by them that each takes the other as husband or wife as the case be. The Madras High Court in the case between Manjula and Mani reported in CDJ 1997 MHC 362 has held -
This provision of Section 7(A)(1) of Hindu Marriage Act of 1955 was made applicable to Tamil Nadu with effect from 7th January, 1968. … Even a mere oral declaration in any language understood by the parties that each takes the other to be his wife without any other act or ceremony will be a valid marriage under Section 7(A)(1) of Hindu Marriage Act. Execution of a document by the spouses will amount to a declaration within the meaning of this Section. (Vide the commentaries at pages 192 and 193 of the learned author Justice Alladi Kuppuswami in his book "Mayne's Hindu Law and Usage" - 14th Edition (1996) published by Bharat Law House, New Delhi).
Registration of all Marriages is made compulsory by the an amendment that was made in Tamilnadu Hindu Marriage Registration Rules,1967 vide G.O. Ms. No. 1438, Home (Cts. IV) dt. 15.10.2007 and was brought into effect from 22.10.2007. Registration of Marriage should be done within 3 months from the date of Marriage.
Being an enactment of the Tamilnadu legislature this facility is available only for Hindus belonging to Tamilnadu. If this should be universally applicable to people all over our country this needs to be adopted by other states or the Parliament has to adopt this. It is strange that though our Constitution in Article 44 calls for the creation of the Uniform Civil Code throughout the Country our Parliament has not yet decided to universalize this legislation. Moreover due to the ignorance among the people of its presence in this State has kept away a popular demand from the people to for Universalize the self respect Marriage.
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