These are governed by the Hindu Marriage and Divorce Act and the first thing about Hindu Marriages is that they are strictly monogamous. Until 1960 Hindu Marriages were potentially polygamous but upon enactment of the Hindu Marriages and Divorce Act it was expressly provided that after enactment of the Act Hindu Marriages were to be monogamous and this is provided in Section 27 (2) of the Hindu Marriage and Divorce Act which also provides that Hindu Marriages have got the same definition as the definition within the Matrimonial Causes Act which means that they must be strictly Monogamous Marriages. The Section to look at is Section 171 of the Penal Code on Marriages that are contracted under the Act and that is the Section relating to the offence of Bigamy.
Section 5 of the Act provides that Hindu marriages shall be solemnised according to the customary rules and ceremonies of the party and that Section thereby imports Hindu Customary Law into the celebration of Hindu Marriages. There are two forms of marriages under Hindu Customary Law
1. Brahma Marriage: No marriage consideration is paid by the bride’s father.
2. Asura Marriage consideration is paid by the bride’s father
In both marriages dowry is paid by the bride’s family.
CONDITIONS WHEN CONTRACTING A HINDU MARRIAGE
Insofar as capacity is concerned, it is provided for under Section 3 and 4 of the Hindu Marriage and Divorce Act which provides that
1. firstly neither party should be married to another person so both parties must be single and
2. secondly the parties should be of sound mind at the time of contracting the marriage and
3. thirdly the man must have attained the age of 18 years and the woman should be at least 16 years of age. Where the woman is aged between 16 and 18, consent of her legal guardian is required.
4. Fourthly the parties should not be within the forbidden degrees of consanguinity and affinity. Section 3(2) of the Hindu Marriage and Divorce Act lists the persons who are within prohibited degrees of consanguinity.
5. Fifthly consent where required must be given and again Section 4 of the Act subsection lists down the guardians who may give consent in order of priority where it is required.
The Act provides for two ceremonies which may be performed when a Hindu marriage is being celebrated. Section 5(2), (3)
1. The Saptapadi ceremony: Under this ceremony the bride and the bridegroom go round a sacred fire seven times and on the seventh round the marriage is deemed to have been celebrated.
2. The Anand Karaj ceremony: Here parties go round their holy book known as the Granth Sahib four times and on the fourth round the marriage is deemed to be complete and binding.
The Act also provides for registration of Hindu Marriages and the issuance of a marriage certificate. However it is also provided that non-registration will not invalidate a marriage neither will registration validate an invalid marriage. This is provided for under Section 6 of the Act.
MATRIMONIAL RIGHTS AND DUTIES OF HINDU MARRIAGES
They are generally that the parties have a right to consortium and the right to consortium is similar to that that arises under statutory law. The wife has a right to maintenance in Section 7(2) of Hindu Marriage and Divorce Act applies the Matrimonial Causes Act to marriages that are contracted under the Hindu Act. So by applying the Matrimonial Causes Act means that the maintenance conditions under this Act will also apply to Hindu Marriages.
Under Hindu Customary Law the wife has a duty to cohabit with her husband and to submit herself to his authority. So in many respect Hindu Marriages are similar to marriages under statutory law.