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Marriage Selection Criteria in ancient Hinduism

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somanathan Iyer

Active member
This is one part of an article on Hinduism by Kenneth Shouler and Susai Anthony.

In Vedic times, certain criteria were established for the prospective brides and bridegrooms, and some of these are still retained according to their caste customs.

In general, the selection criteria were:
Let him [the father] first examine the family of the intended bride or bridegroom.
Let him give the girl to a young man endowed with intelligence.
Let him marry a girl that shows the characteristics of intelligence, beauty, and moral conduct, and who is free from disease.
As the characteristics are difficult to discern, let him make eight lumps of Earth and recite over those lumps the following formula: “Right has been born first, in the beginning: on the right truth is founded. For what destiny this girl is born, that may she attain here. What is true may be seen,” and let him say to the girl, “Take one of these.”
If she chooses the lump from a field that yields two crops in one year, he may know, “Her offerings will be rich in food.”
If she chooses from a cow stable, her offerings would be rich in cattle.
If she chooses Earth from an altar, her offerings would be rich in holy luster.
If she chooses the lump from a pool that does not dry, then her offerings would be rich in everything.
If she chooses the lump from a gambling place, she would be addicted to gambling.
If she chooses the lump from a place where four roads cross, she would be wandering in different directions.
If she chooses the lump from a barren spot, she would be poor.
If she chooses the lump from a burial ground, she would bring death to her husband.
Leading her three times round the fire and the water-pot, so that their right sides are turned towards the fire, let him say to the girl, “This am I, that are thou, that are thou, this am I; the heaven I, the Earth thou. Come! Let us here marry. Let us beget offspring. Loving, bright, with genial mind may we live a hundred autumns.”
When she sees the polar star Arundhati and Ursa Major, let her break the silence and say, “May my husband live and I get offspring!”
— Kandika 5

The marriage between people with a common paternal ancestor within seven generations or a maternal ancestor within five generations was prohibited. It was recommended that while a husband should be at least twenty, a girl should be married immediately before puberty. The general view was that the ideal marriage was one in which the bride was one-third the age of the groom. Thus, a man of twenty-four should marry a girl of eight.

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