Essential Ceremonies in Hindu Marriage: A Sanskara or a Tool in the Hands of Judiciary to Thwart Gender Equality

Shailja Rawal
National Law School of India University, Bangalore, India

Volume III, Issue IV, 2020

Marriages under Hindu law are still considered to be a sacramental union between two identities. They are thus, performed in accordance to various traditions and ‘essential’ ceremonies. Due to diverse customs present in Hinduism, every community has its own way of concluding a valid marriage by conducting its own ‘essential’ ceremonies. But the question which arises is what are these essential ceremonies and who labels them as being ‘essential’. Amidst this uncertainty, judiciary often takes this task onto itself and determines the validity of marriage or often times the fate of the women. Shaped by the patriarchal notions of the society and gender biased provisions of the law, judiciary, by laying down its own whimsical and ever changing standards raises the level of ambiguity in the already existing chaotic situation. The paper analyses the effects of such lax attitude which can range from bigamy to even concubinage and in the end analyses that how a woman’s status gets tampered even further due to lack of certainty and manipulative approach of men who in turn negate the entire marriage by claiming non performance of essential ceremonies. In the end, the paper lays down certain suggestions in this regard, which if implemented will be a good start in making a move from the current gender blind to a gender neutral approach.