The Evolution of Marriage: A Bond of Love, Respect and Vows.
Marriage is a fundamental institution that has been pivotal in human social development. It has evolved significantly from its primitive beginnings, reflecting the changing dynamics of society while remaining a cornerstone of human interaction. In this article, I have explored how marriage has transformed over time, culminating in a bond of love, respect and sacred vows that unite couples for a lifetime.
The Dawn of Civilization
In the early days of human civilization, society lacked established rules governing sexual behaviour. Survival, agriculture, and shelter were the primary concerns. With the emergence of land ownership and livestock competition, the need for regulating sexual behaviour and determining parentage became evident.
The Challenge of Paternal Rights
Unrestrained sexual relations complicated the issue of determining parentage. As societies developed, rules emerged to establish paternal lineage and assert fathers' rights. Men began taking responsibility for supporting and protecting both mothers and children.
Transition to Restrictive Sexual Behavior
As society continued to evolve, restrictions on sexual behaviour were introduced to ensure paternal rights. This led to the encouragement of monogamy and the shift towards committed relationships.
The Concept of Ownership
In this transition, some men began to perceive women as trophies, leading to societal imbalances and challenges. However, these notions evolved with time.
The Shift Towards "We"
Communities grew stronger as civilization advanced, and individuals began considering their responsibilities toward each other. This transition from individualism to partnership marked the inception of marriage and family structures.
The Emergence of Marriage
Living together with mutual consent was the initial step, but the guarantee of lifelong commitment was missing. To address this, marriage took shape, marked by sacred vows made in the presence of witnesses.
The Tradition of Vidai (Farewell)
With men protecting and caring for women and children, the tradition of "Vidai" emerged, signifying the daughter's departure from her family to start a new life with her husband.
Generations later, parents began participating in the matchmaking process to secure a suitable spouse for their children. The daughter would go to the groom's home, while the son would bring the bride home.
Emergence of Dowry
As daughters were expected to start a new life in their husbands' homes, the kind gesture of concerned parents to give them gifts for a smooth transition, turned into the practice of dowry, which is now widely recognized as a vice.
The Seven Vows
Marriage ceremonies in almost every culture involve the exchange of vows, symbolizing commitment, respect, and love between partners. For instance, the Hindu tradition includes the "Seven Vows."
1. The First Vow: The bride asks for a promise that if the groom ever goes on a pilgrimage, he should take her along. If he observes any fasting or other religious practices, he should sit her on his left side, as is the tradition today.
तीर्थव्रतोद्यापन यज्ञकर्म मया सहैव प्रियवयं कुर्या:
वामांगमायामि तदा त्वदीयं ब्रवीति वाक्यं प्रथमं कुमारी!।
2. The Second Vow: The bride asks for a promise that, just as he respects his parents, he should also respect her parents and continue to follow the family's traditions.
पुज्यौ यथा स्वौ पितरौ ममापि तथेशभक्तो निजकर्म कुर्या:,
वामांगमायामि तदा त्वदीयं ब्रवीति कन्या वचनं द्वितीयम !!
3. The Third Vow: The bride requests that he promise to take care of her in all three phases of life: youth, adulthood, and old age.
जीवनम अवस्थात्रये मम पालनां कुर्यात,
वामांगंयामि तदा त्वदीयं ब्रवीति कन्या वचनं तृ्तीयं !!
4. The Fourth Vow: The bride insists that now that they are entering into the bond of marriage, the responsibility of fulfilling the family's future needs rests on his shoulders.
कुटुम्बसंपालनसर्वकार्य कर्तु प्रतिज्ञां यदि कातं कुर्या:,
वामांगमायामि तदा त्वदीयं ब्रवीति कन्या वचनं चतुर्थं !!
5. The Fifth Vow: The bride asks that in matters related to household affairs, marriage, expenses, or any other financial decisions, he considers her opinion as well.
स्वसद्यकार्ये व्यवहारकर्मण्ये व्यये मामापि मन्त्रयेथा,
वामांगमायामि तदा त्वदीयं ब्रूते वच: पंचमत्र कन्या !!
6. The Sixth Vow: The bride says he should promise not to disrespect her in front of her friends or another person. Similarly, she agrees to come to his left side if he refrains from gambling and other wrongdoings.
न मेपमानमं सविधे सखीनां द्यूतं न वा दुर्व्यसनं भंजश्चेत,
वामाम्गमायामि तदा त्वदीयं ब्रवीति कन्या वचनं च षष्ठम !!
7. The Seventh Vow: In the final vow, the bride asks the groom to regard all other women as his mother and not make anyone else a partner in the mutual love between husband and wife. Only if he gives her this vow does she accept coming into his left side.
परस्त्रियं मातृसमां समीक्ष्य स्नेहं सदा चेन्मयि कान्त कुर्या,
वामांगमायामि तदा त्वदीयं ब्रूते वच: सप्तममत्र कन्या !!
Marriage has evolved significantly over the ages, reflecting the changing dynamics of society and individual rights. It has transitioned from a practical institution to a sacred bond that symbolizes love and lifelong commitment. While societal norms and legal standards around marriage continue to adapt to personal preferences and changing times, the core principle of marriage as a union of love and respect remains intact. Marriage continues to evolve, but its fundamental essence endures.
Marriage - The enduring connection of love and respect between two individuals.
Dr. Deepak Chaturvedi, MD Medicine
Disclaimer: The discussion in this article is the author's personal opinion only. It is not a historical document. This article is not intended to hurt any feelings of an individual, culture or community.