Marriage is a fundamental and universal social institution. It gives a recognised form for engaging into a reasonably long-term heterosexual relationship for the purpose of childbearing and nurturing children as a social institution. As a result, it’s largely used to control human reproduction. It was created by human society to manage and regulate man’s sexual life. It is inextricably linked to the institution of family. In truth, family and marriage are mutually beneficial. Marriage is a societal institution that satisfies an individual’s biological needs, particularly sexual wants, in a legal manner. It is present worldwide as an institution, but it varies from society to society. Marriage and family both generate socially sanctioned status roles. Marriage also regulates an individual’s biological desires; nevertheless, the nature, structure, and role of marriage have changed over the course of society’s lengthy history.
Marriage is significant because of the functions it fulfils. The following are the primary functions of marriage:
- Regulation of Sex Life: Marriage is a great tool for regulating a man’s sex life. Man has a strong sexual urge. Throughout his life, he is subjected to its impact. It is a human need that is both urgent and seductive. To avoid anarchy and confusion in society, it must be properly governed and regulated. Marriage has evolved into such a regulating institution. As a result, marriage is frequently referred to as a licence for sex life. Sex relations are also regulated by marriage. It forbids sex interactions between close relatives, such as between a father and a daughter, a mother and a son, a brother and a sister, and so on. The term “incest taboo” refers to such a prohibition. Premarital and extramarital sex interactions are likewise restricted by marriage.
- Marriage results in the formation of a family: Marriage provides sexual fulfilment, which leads to self-perpetuation. It signifies that marriage requires the pair to start a family of their own. It is here that children are conceived and raised. The freshly born individual’s descent is determined by the marriage. The rule of descent governs inheritance and succession.
- Provides for Economic Cooperation: Marriage allows for the distribution of labour based on gender. Marriage partners divide and share work among themselves and carry it out. We discover a clear division of labour between husband and wife in some primitive tribes. Even in modern industrial countries, husbands and wives work outside the home to supplement their income and further their economic ideals.
- Emotional and Intellectual Interstimulation of the Partners: Marriage brings life-partners together and aids in the development of great love and affection for one another. It enhances the two’s relationship by deepening their feelings and strengthening their bond. It also aids in the development of intellectual cooperation among them.
- Marriage promotes social solidarity by bringing together not only two people of opposing sex, but also their separate families, communities, and relatives. Marriage strengthens the bonds of friendship between groups.
Forms of Marriage
The main forms of marriage are: Polygyny, Polyandry, Monogamy, and Group Marriage.
Polygyny is a type of marriage in which a single guy marries multiple women at the same time. Polygyny is more common than polyandry, but it is still not as widespread as monogamy. It was used by the majority of ancient civilisations. It was widely used by ancient Hebrews, Assyrians, Babylonians, Indians, and other peoples. It is now common among primitive cultures, but it is frequently restricted to the richer groups. Among the Eskimo tribes, polygyny is practised. Crow Indians, North American Hidatsa, African Negroes, Indian Nagas, Gonds, and Baigas It is, nevertheless, permissible in the Muslim community.
Polyandry is when a woman marries multiple men. Polygyny is far more prevalent than this. Polyandry is practised by Indian tribes such as the Tiyan, Toda, Kota, Khasa, and Ladakhi Bota. The word comes from the Greek word polys, which means “many,” and aner, andros, which means “man.”
Monogamy is a type of marriage in which only one man and one woman marry. This is the most common type of marriage observed among both primitive and civilised cultures. It was formerly a fairly popular practise, but it has now practically become a global practise.
Monogamy has a long and illustrious history. Monogamy, according to Westermarck, is as old as humanity. Only monogamous marriage was recommended by the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle. It was also recognised by the ancient Romans and Spartans. It was revered by ancient Jews, Christians, and Indians. Monogamy was considered the most ideal type of marriage by ancient Hindus.
In theory, group marriage is defined as the union of two or more women with two or more males. However, this arrangement is quite uncommon. The husbands are ordinary men, and the wives are ordinary women. Children are treated as though they were the children of the entire group. Children refer to the men in this group as fathers, and the women as mothers.
Monogamous, polygynous, polyandrous, or polyandrous marriage linked with concubinage, sexual hospitality, or socially sanctioned adultery is also said to be mistaken for group marriage.
Endogamy is a marital regulation in which life partners are chosen from inside the group. It is marriage inside a group, which can be a caste, a class, a tribe, a race, a hamlet, a religious community, or anything else. Caste endogamy, class endogamy, subcaste endogamy, race endogamy, tribal endogamy, and other forms of endogamy exist.
Endogamy as a marriage law offers its own set of benefits. It promotes group cohesion and togetherness. It makes the women in the group happy. It aids in the preservation of the group’s property. It also protects the group’s sanctity. Finally, it aids in the concealment of the group’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as its professional secrets.
Endogamy is nearly the polar opposite of exogamy. Exogamy is a marital regulation that requires a person to marry outside of his or her own group. It forbids members of the group from marrying each other.
Exogamy is a rule that states that so-called blood relatives are not allowed to marry or have sexual relations with one another. It is not customary for close relatives to marry each other. However, the degree of proximity varies from community to community.
Marriage in India:
Marriage and family, two biologically based social structures, are complementary to one another. Marriage has never been viewed from a materialistic perspective in the Hindu social legacy. Marriage is a sacrament for Hindus, not a contract. The sacredness of the institution of marriage is mentioned in the Rig Veda. Even at that time, marriage was seen as a binding force that would last for the rest of one’s life. Marriage was a religious ceremony that required the husband to accept his wife as a gift from God. The rite of marriage, or ‘vivah samskara,’ brings men and women together as husband and wife to form a family, or ‘Griha.’ Grihasthashrama is a social ideal as well as a biological requirement. The term “family” has always denoted “combined family” in “Indian social evolution.” The value of the Hindu family is emphasised in the Grihyasutras. Hindu ideals, beliefs, and attitudes are considered to be formed on the foundation of the Hindu joint family. For Hindus, the family is a sacred institution that is sanctioned by religion and social customs.
Since the beginning of time, Hindus have placed a high value on marriage. For the typical Indian, marriage is almost compulsory and inescapable. In our country, life without marriage is almost unfathomable, and individuals who are single for an extended period of time face a severe social shame. Marriage as a basic ceremony is a deeply embedded, long-standing, and widespread custom here. For Hindus, marriage is a sacred obligation. Every Hindu is dedicated to marriage since it is seen as a sacred rite. Marriage is neither a “social compact” for Hindus, nor is it considered “a licence for sex life.”
Marriage is compulsory for all Muslims. Marriage is compulsory in the Muslim culture because it discourages celibacy. It is almost obligatory in Islam. Prophet Mohammad also emphasised that being married is preferable to being single. Marriage is considered nearly mandatory by both the Sunni and Shia sects of Islam.
Marriage is a multi-level commitment that encompasses pledges from people to people, families to families, and couples to states. Marriage is seen as a somewhat lasting link in all societies, to the point where it is nearly irreversible in some. Marriage is the institution best suited to rearing and socialising the next generation of members, a necessary task if the society’s norms, values, and goals are to be maintained, and if the society itself is to be perpetuated, due to the stability provided by a life-long promise of remaining together. Because families are the most basic social unit upon which society is founded, sociologists are interested in the relationship between marriage and family. Marriage and family are also linked to other social institutions such as the economy, government, and religion.
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