We are all used to marriages full of glitz and glam, religious ceremonies and vows being exchanged between bride and groom with an entire family and extended clan surrounding while doing so. The idea of a couple living together without marriage is most definitely frowned upon in India. Even if a girl is seen sitting behind a boy on a bike, the mohalla people begin to freak. So forget living in, it’s as good as leading a dual life if you choose to do so because it is considered to be ‘against our Indian culture’.
However, here’s the twist in this tale. You can thank us later for finding this amazeballs of a loophole in the our marriage system. Gandharva marriage is a kind of marriage where the couple can live together out of love, with mutual consent, consummating their relationship consensually.
When you’re living in, it is a simple consensual relationship where you live together with the one you love and well, have sex consensually. The Gandharva marriage works on similar lines. The marriage is entered into without religious ceremonies.
There happens to be a famous couple who entered this form of marriage – Shakuntala and Dushyanta. And if we were to scourge around some old libraries and find scriptures like the Kama Sutra (No, do not point at sex positions and laugh, you’re not in eighth grade anymore), the Mahabharata, they show that Rishi Kanva, the foster-father of Shakuntala, claim that this form of marriage is ideal.
Gandharva marriage is a method of marriage where the woman chooses her own husband. Oh well! How feminism has de-evolved over the ages, we say! However, this kind of marriage is quite like some lyrics of Ed Sheeran’s ‘Shape of You’.
‘Come over and start up a conversation with just me
And trust me I'll give it a chance now
Take my hand, stop, put Van the Man on the jukebox
And then we start to dance, and now I'm singing like
Girl, you know I want your love
Your love was handmade for somebody like me
Come on now, follow my lead
I may be crazy, don't mind me’
So, we’ll stop singing and come to the point. In Gandharva marriage, the couple can meet each other of their own accord, consent to live together, and their relationship that born of passion is consummated willingly by both of them. This form of marriage did not require consent of parents or anyone else. (Can you believe?)
The bride and the groom had met each other in their ordinary village life, or in various other places such as regional festivals and fairs, begun to enjoy each other's company, and decided to be together. This free choice and mutual attraction were generally approved by their kinsmen.
This is the kind of marriage, that of course did not become completely acceptable back then, and even now. There are seven other kinds of marriages mentioned in Hindu scriptures, some of which are acceptable and some not. Below are some acceptable (and still prevalent) forms of marriages in the Indian society.
Brahma marriage is considered the religiously most appropriate marriage, where father finds an educated man and proposes the marriage of his daughter to him. The two families meet, the daughter is ceremonially decorated, the father gives away his daughter in betrothal, with a Vedic ceremony performed.
Daiva marriage the father gives away his daughter along with ornaments to a priest as a sacrificial fee. This form of marriage occurred in ancient times when yajna sacrifices were prevalent. Arsha marriage is where the groom gives a cow and a bull to the father of the bride and the father exchanges his daughter in marriage. The groom takes a vow to fulfill his obligations to the bride and family life. In Prajapatya marriage, a couple agree to be married by exchanging vows to each other. This form of marriage is akin to a civil ceremony.