Written by London swaminathan
Date: 15 March 2017
Time uploaded in London:- 21-10
Post No. 3726
Pictures are taken from various sources; thanks.
There are lot of similarities between Hindu marriages and Near eastern marriages. Near East cover the Sumerian, Babylonian and Mesopotamian civilizations. For the Near East customs, I have used the Dictionary of Ancient near East published by the British Museum and added my comments for each category: –
1.marraige was arranged by fathers, or in their absence by other relatives.
In Hindu weddings father is the one who arranges the marriage. If it is his daughter, he is the one giving the girl to another man. In Hindu Brahmin weddings the girl sits on the lap of her father and he ‘donates’ (Kanyaa Dhaanam) her to another man by pouring water.
2.Girls married as teen agers and men were 10 years older.
In Hindu weddings, the girls are married as soon as they attained puberty. men were older by ten or fifteen years. Now everything has changed.
3.Monogamy was the norm but a second wife is allowed if the first wife is without children.
Manu and other Hindu law makers say the same about second wife.
- The process of marriage went through several phases from first agreement to wedding.
Hindu wedding also had several stages. First betrothal ceremony where they formally announce he marriage and agree and fix the marriage date. There may be a gap of six months to one year.
5.Marraige Laws were there. A bride price was given.
Hindus also gave bride price and it depended on the capacity and the status of the parents. Bride price changed to groom price later. Ancient Tamil and Sanskrit books confirm the existence of bride price.
6.The actual wedding lasted between five to seven days.
Hindu weddings were held over a five-day period. And then for one year there will be lot of celebrations and engagements for newlywed coupe.
- If the wife dies before the husband her dowry and other things go to children.
In Hindu families, the man maintains the property, but ultimately it goes to her children.
8.Though wedding customs are not explained in detail, the culmination point was the groom removing the veil.
This veil over the face of the bride or a curtain between the bride and groom was practised by the Hindus.
9.A group of bride’s friends were seem to have been responsible for her chastity, and after the wedding night showed the evidence of her virginity
In Hindu weddings, after the First Night, the dress was given to the barber. Brides’ friends were the ones who sent her into the bed room and they come back in the morning to open the room door. Barbers were the medicine men of olden days. Their wives did he maternity jobs.
10.The texts, particularly those from Nuzi, show a great concern with fertility and stress that the main purpose of marriage was procreation. This is confirmd by Hindu scriptures. Kalidasa enumerated the great qualities of Raghu dynasty. He also said the Raghu dynasty kings married only for procreation.
- A class in Hammurabi’ code states that a wife could provide her husband with a female slave as a surrogate for herself.
Hindus did not do that. But wives could procreate by using the close relatives of the husband. Vyasa helped Amba and Ambalika o give birth to Dhrtarashtra and Pandu.
12.Documents from Nuzi show that that if a woman was living in her father’s house and her husband died, and she was childless, her father in law could marry her to the son of his choice.
Widow marriage was not common among Hindus; but husband could marry second time if the first wife dies, particularly without children. Wife’s sister was married to the widower.
- Married couple lived separately or or in her father’s house.
Hindu wives joined husband’s faily andnot her father’s family.
14.In Ugarit, King Arhalba willed that his wife should marry his brother and no one else.
Hittite laws show that men and women lived together for long without proper marriage. If they live for two or four years like that their marriage was legalised.
This is not found in Hindu society.
Picture of a Traditional Tamil Hindu Wedding.
- Legal Texts in the Near east cover divorce, normally covering the division of property.
Hindu law books such as Manu smrti deal with the division of property.
There are more similarities than differences.
It is surprising to see there was no quick divorce like talaq talaq or there was no polygamy like Muslims having more than one wife.