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Monday, May 20, 2024

Hindu marriage invalid without requisite ceremonies, says Supreme Court’s new ruling

In a landmark judgment, the Supreme Court said a Hindu marriage cannot be termed valid unless performed with special ceremonies.

The judgment came during the hearing of a case involving two commercial pilots seeking a divorce without performing a Hindu marriage ceremony. The apex court emphasized that a Hindu marriage can only be considered completed after the completion of the sacred Saptapadi or saat pheras ritual.

The ritual of Saptapadi or saat pheras is integral to Hindu marriages in which the bride and groom take seven rounds of the agni (sacred fire). It is only after the completion of the seventh step when the bridegroom says to his bride, “with the completion of seven steps, we have now become friend ( sakha). May I attain to friendship with thee; may I not be separated from thy friendship” that the Hindu marriage is considered complete. The Supreme Court further observed that it is only after the completion of the saat pheras that the bond of marriage becomes sacred, and the wife is considered to be half of oneself, that is ardhangini but she is accepted with an individual identity and as a co-partner in the sacred sanskar of marriage.

The court emphasized that the Hindu marriage is a Samskara and should be treated as such; it’s an institution of great value in the Bharatiya society and not an event for ‘song and dance’ and ‘wining and dining’, the apex court stated.

The Supreme Court also emphasized that a Hindu marriage is by no means a commercial transaction marked by an exchange of gifts or dowry. “It is a solemn foundational event celebrated so as to establish a relationship between a man and a woman who acquire the status of a husband and wife for an evolving family in future which is basic unit of Indian society”, the bench said.

“We deprecate the practice of young men and women seeking to acquire the status of being a husband and a wife to each other and therefore purportedly being married, in the absence of a valid marriage ceremony under the provisions of the (Hindu Marriage) Act such as in the instant case where the marriage between the parties was to take place later”, the bench stated further.

The Supreme Court judgment assumes massive significance in the context of Hindu marriages becoming increasingly woke. Deeply influenced by woke culture, the Hindu youth in Bharat is increasingly devaluing its own culture and traditions, conveniently abandoning Hindu marriage traditions, and even anglicizing or Christianizing Hindu weddings.

The woke celebrity weddings of Bollywood set the template for the Hindus of Bharat. Brides dressed in white gowns reminiscent of Christian wedding traditions, the whole setup of the wedding venue also mimicking a Christian wedding ceremony, the bride skipping all traditional jewelry, sometimes not even sporting “sindoor” – these are typical features of woke Bollywood weddings which the elite Hindus unfortunately follow. These then set the tone for the rest of the Hindu society.

People rapturously glued to their social media feeds checking wedding reels of Ranbir-Alia wedding ceremony or Parineeti Chopra – Raghav Chaddha wedding ceremony get swept away by these “novelties” and get inspired to denounce Hindu culture and traditions in their own wedding ceremonies.

It’s a vicious circle that is hard to break. For those associated with the wedding industry, it’s a profitable venture. The more kitsch added to the weddings, the more money they can mint! Thus, Hindus get fooled into over-wokeizing their weddings at the expense of the most foundational of the Hindu vivaah sanskars.

Nowadays, many woke Hindus have also started observing the tradition of “Bridesmaid” in Hindu weddings, never mind that the ritual has got to do nothing with a Hindu wedding. It looks better placed at a church wedding where other young women accompanying the bride, usually, her friends or relatives, are known as bridesmaids. But woke Hindus, out of a deep-seated irrational desire to adopt everything western, add such features to their own wedding ceremonies. You might say it’s their wedding and their choice. What difference does it make if they are happy doing a bit of a mix-and-match? It’s obviously their choice but how many Christian weddings have you seen adopting elements from Hindu marriages? How many Christian brides have you seen sporting a maang tika (an ornament sported by the Hindu pride on the hair parting) or wearing sindoor? If any of this happened, there would be a huge controversy and all sorts of talk about how Hindus are trying to impose their traditions on minorities! But obviously for the woke Hindus, everything is cool.

Everything and anything don’t go by. It’s mandatory to observe certain rituals and respect their sanctity for a marriage to be recognized. The Supreme Court Judgment has said it loud and clear so that all wokes can hear it. That is why in the context of the Hindu marriage, a marriage will not be considered complete unless the saat pheras ritual is done, even if the couple has a Hindu marriage certificate.

The media is full of stories of woke Hindu weddings where married couples proudly declare that they skipped the saat pheras ritual during their wedding ceremony. One such  wedding reportedly happened in 2021 where a couple from Madhya Pradesh solemnized their wedding by taking an oath of the Bharatiya constitution and eminent figures like Dr B.R. Ambedkar and others. That is, they skipped the saat pheras ceremony and took an oath of the Bharatiya constitution instead. The video of the woke wedding ceremony reportedly went viral on social media.

There must be many other such examples of woke marriages minus the saat pheras. That’s why it’s at the right time that the Supreme Court took note of the issue and passed the judgment. Numerous other Hindu marriage rituals such as Kanyadaan are also openly skipped by couples who proudly declare on their social media accounts that they solemnized their own marriage without the kanyadaan. However, on the issue of Kanyadaan, the Allahabad High Court had observed earlier that a Kanyadaan ceremony is not essential for a Hindu marriage to be solemnized. So one cannot do much to prevent the woke brigade from flouting other rituals, but at least the Supreme Court’s judgment sends out a strong message to the woke brigade regarding the sanctity of a Hindu marriage.

In March 2024, a video went viral on social media in which a bride could be seen putting sindoor on her husband’s forehead. Now, this was widely publicized as an example of “breaking the glass ceiling and challenging patriarchal norms. The amazing thing is none of the people calling various Hindu marriage rituals patriarchal probably have any clue about the background or context of these rituals. They apply the black-and-white Abrahamic logic to Hindu marriage rituals and denounce everything as patriarchal. By that logic, all marriage rituals of religions like Islam and Christianity would also be deemed patriarchal. But no one seems to have any problem with wedding rituals of any religion except Hindu dharma.

We live in a strange society where we are systematically taught to hate our own identity and culture. Hatred for our own culture and civilization is considered a symbol of our supposed open-mindedness and superiority and “secularism”, of course. That’s why hapless Hindus continue to fight the wrong battles by ignoring the issues that really matter and misusing their sense of purpose and rebellion to destroy their own roots. Nothing could be sadder than this.

 The Hindu marriage ritual of saat pheras is one of the most sublime examples of a ritual incorporating a dialogue between a would-be husband and wife, a dialogue pronouncing that there is a marriage on equal terms and that it is equally sacred to both partners.

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Rati Agnihotri
Rati Agnihotri
Rati Agnihotri is an independent journalist and writer currently based in Dehradun (Uttarakhand). Rati has extensive experience in broadcast journalism having worked as a Correspondent for Xinhua Media for 8 years. She was based at their New Delhi bureau. She has also worked across radio and digital media and was a Fellow with Radio Deutsche Welle in Bonn. She is now based in Dehradun and pursuing independent work regularly contributing news analysis videos to a nationalist news portal (India Speaks Daily) with a considerable youtube presence. Rati regularly contributes articles and opinion pieces to various esteemed newspapers, journals, and magazines. Her articles have been recently published in "The Sunday Guardian", "Organizer", "Opindia", and "Garhwal Post". She has completed a MA (International Journalism) from the University of Leeds, U.K., and a BA (Hons) in English Literature from Miranda House, Delhi University.

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