ANAND KARAJ MARRIAGES IN INDIA (Part-1)

“The spouse is but One and all others are His brides. The false bride assumes many religious garbs. When the Lord stops her going into another’s home, then is she summoned into her Lord’s mansion without any let and hindrance. She is adorned with the Name and is dear to her True Lord. She alone is the true bride and the Lord lends her His support” (Guru Nanak, Ramkali, pg 993)[1]

A society is a complex structure: an accumulation of cultures, traditions, idiosyncrasies, differences and similarities functioning as one unit, uplifting and categorising the territorial unit they occupy. Evolution, harmonisation, economic environment, family structure, interaction are all products of a society, which in every other territory vary according to ethics, literature, teaching and upbringing.

The Indian society derives its influence and basic structure from ancient Vedic literature, more importantly profession-based categorisation i.e. the Varna System (categorisation of individuals into 4 castes i.e. Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishya and Shudra)[2] , which although part of the Hindu religion, present in majoritarian numbers, primarily, is criticised till date as reeking of medieval stench, discriminatorily divisive, baseless and cumbersome to follow, since the proactive spillage of this religion-restricted division became a societal norm and gave birth to other social evils such as Untouchability, Manual Scavenging, restrictive education, gender bias, trafficking and other such evils that became blotches on an otherwise puritan and sacred religion and social system. The after-effects have followed into the 21st Century, urging lawmakers to form legislations to prevent further damage.

However, contrarily, the present-day Sikh diaspora, befitting their history, occupies a separate, essentially selfless and contributory societal identity, and has effectively overcome the orthodox segregation given by the earlier texts. A new social fabric that was spun in one thread of egalitarianism, social reform, restructuring and empowerment was introduced with the advent and proliferation of Sikhism as a religion, where division was missing, harmony was at the forefront and ideals were changing. Along with the introduction of new ideologies as to how a fulfilling life should be lead, what behaviours should be adopted that benefit one and all, a seemingly dystopian Indian society underwent a radical transformation into a realistic society, envisaged by thinkers and scholars but not achieved in the past. Sikhism emerged as an amalgamation of thoughts, cultures, reforms and unification, the very essence of its existence and representative of the selfless, benign, protective and self-authoritative emotion of Indian societal ethos.

Relationships are the primary indication of healthy social construct. They reflect individual as well collective ideals, virtues, backgrounds, wants and norms, which lead to the development of family structures, say joint or neutral, societal favour towards non-normative relationships, cultural merging acceptability, foreign influence (Western, Eastern etc) and other influential factors that determine the outlook, norms of a society, how it aligns and progresses with worldly evolution and what kind of precedents are set for future generations. Out of all the possible social affiliations, a relationship format that has acquired a veritable status in terms of assumed continuance, legal validity and an acquired social status is the ancient institution of marriage. Marriage is considered a union of two families, a phenomenon to bolster societal evolution while having individual, familial and cultural implications. Determination of inter-family relations, succession matters, family structure, spousal roles, inter-spousal physical relations and other such social functions are served purpose after marital relations ensue between two partners. Socialists term marriage as a “socially supported union involving two or more individuals in what is deemed a secure, endearing and continual relationship, emerging out of a physically intimate bond of some fashion[3].”

In India, marriage, from a legal standpoint, has personal laws exercising jurisdiction over the conduct, rites, ages and other important factors, but the laws have been codified in a just and evolved manner to prevent any social anomaly or injustice and to promote the existence of diverse cultures and traditions harmoniously. Hence, the major matrimonial laws in our country that govern issues like marriage registration, divorce and other related subjects may be listed as follows (non-exhaustively):

  1. The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955[4]
  2. The Indian Christian Marriage Act, 1872
  3. The Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act, 1936
  4. The Special Marriage Act, 1954

It is noteworthy here that there is no specific legislation in place for Muslim marriage and divorce, since it is exclusively covered under their personal law (Sunnah).

However, our discussion is limited to the scope of the laws related to the marriage of Sikhs. For all purposes, since 1955, Sikh marriage registration has been covered under the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, according to Section 2(1)(b) of the Act, which includes in its ambit Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains. However, there have been other legislations in place that seek to make Sikh marriage registration a separate entity from that of Hindu marriage, which arose out of the need for distinction from the umbrella term which the minority religion has been subjected to since partition. As of this date, states like Punjab and Delhi have in place their own laws for registration of such marriages distinctly from The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.


[1]Sikhism Religion of the Sikh People, https://www.sikhs.org/women_q.htm

[2]Nikul Joshi, Caste System in Ancient India Ancient History Encyclopaedia (2020), https://www.ancient.eu/article/1152/caste-system-in-ancient-india/

[3]Ashley Crossman, How Sociologists Define Marriage ThoughtCo, https://www.thoughtco.com/marriage-3026396#:~:text=A marriage, however, does not, and spiritual/religious ways.&text=Typically, the institution of marriage, in an invitation to marry.

[4]Pinky Anand, Family Law in India: Overview Practical Law US Signon (2019), https://content.next.westlaw.com/6-581-5985?__lrTS=20200831152003634&transitionType=Default&contextData=(sc.Default)&firstPage=true

Aishwarya Says:

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Freedom of Expression Vs. Comedy

Inspirational Women – Amrit Kaur

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