Hindus : Hindu Dharmashastra considers it obligatory for every person to marry as vivaha is held to be a sharira samskara. But several rules and restrictions regarding endogamy and exogamy have to be observed. Once upon a time more than one wife was permitted but the Hindu Marriage Act of 1955 has completely reformed the law relating to Hindu marriages all over India making monogamy compulsory among all classes of Hindus. Marriage of a widow was once strictly prohibited among Brahmans. Even now, though it is permissible legally, not many widows marry among high caste Hindus. Similarly divorce was not in vogue among the high castes but law permits it now under certain conditions.

Eight forms of marriages were allowed by Hindu Dharmashastra, but lately only two were in vogue, viz., brahma and asura. According to the former, prevalent among high castes, hunda (dowry, i.e., property which a woman brings to her husband) is paid by the bride's parents to the bridegroom. Among lower castes, the bride's parents take dowry called dej. Both are now prohibited by law but the custom dies hard, having assumed different suitable forms. It had religious sanction as vara-dakshina which the person making kanyadana, gift of a bride, was required to pay in order to give finality to the dana, gift.

Social usage in relation to Hindu marriage has been considerably affected by various legal enactments passed perhaps right from 1833 when the regulation prohibiting Sati was declared. A common form of civil marriage for all communities in India was provided by the Special Marriage Act III of 1872 which made it possible for an Indian of whatever caste or creed to enter into a valid marriage with a person belonging to any caste or creed provided the parties registered the contract of marriage, declaring inter alia that they did not belong to any religion. This Act was amended by Act XXX of 1923, making it possible for Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs and Jains (but not Christians, Jews, Mohamedans and Parsees) to declare their religion and yet get their marriage registered. The Child Marriage Restraint Act (XIX of 1929), as amended by Act 19 of 1946, prohibited marriages of boys under 18 years of age and girls under 14 years of age. The Hindu Marriage Disabilities Act (XXVIII of 1946) validated marriages between parties (a) belonging to the same gotra, or (b) belonging to different sub-divisions of the same caste. The Hindu Marriage Act of 1955 abrogates and modifies all the past laws. It has made Hindu marriage now strictly adult and monogamous. It has done away with the gotra and caste restrictions which limited the field of choice in marriage and has set definite conditions under which a degree of nullity under further of dissolution of marriage could be obtained.

As marriage from the Hindu point of view created an indissoluble tie between the husband and wife, divorce was not recognised by the general Hindu Law. Neither party to a marriage could, therefore, divorce the other unless divorce was allowed by custom as among so many low class communities. The Indian Divorce Act, 1869, provided inter alia for dissolution of marriage, but it applied only to cases where the petitioner or respondent professed the Christian religion (section 2 of the Act). However, according to the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, reliefs by way of judicial separation, declaration of nullity of marriage and divorce are recognised (sections 10 to 13).

Marriage ceremonies : Usually among the high castes, priests from both sides, in common consultation fix the day and hour for the auspicious event and it is the priest belonging to the bride's family who generally officiates with his assistants.

The essential marriage rituals which obtain among high class Hindus are Vagnischaya, Simantapujana, Madhuparka, Antarpata, Sutra-veshtana, Panigrahana, Lajahoma and Saptapadi etc., and occasionally Airanipradana. In interpretation of these Shastric injunctions from the Grihyasutras, the following ceremonies are gone through in a popular way: Akshad or invitations to village deities and relatives and friends in a ceremonious way, reception of the bridegroom's party, formal settlement of the marriage, application of halad or turmeric, Devakapratishtha, Gauripujan, Rukhwat, Mangalashtakas, Kanyadan, Kankanabandhana, sadi presentation to the bride, welcome to the new daughter-in-law called Sunmukh, Zal, Varat, Lakshmipujana and the naming ceremony of the bride in her new home. These are the various stages in the formal marriage ceremony.