oppn parties As Per Hindu Marriage Act, Saptapadi Essential, Not Kanyadaan Says Allahabad HC

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As Per Hindu Marriage Act, Saptapadi Essential, Not Kanyadaan Says Allahabad HC

By Sunil Garodia
First publised on 2024-04-11 07:44:54

About the Author

Sunil Garodia Editor-in-Chief of indiacommentary.com. Current Affairs analyst and political commentator.

The Hindu marriage is an elaborate affair and even without the ever-increasing pomp, events and sideshows associated with it, the main ceremony where the rituals are performed by the purohits in the mandap can be a exhilarating experience for the bride and the groom. There are hundreds of rituals that demand total focus from the couple and the girl's parents. Among them is the kanyadaan, or the giving away of the bride by the bride's father, that is now increasingly under the scanner as what many think is a regressive ritual given the fact that it is called 'daan' or donation which connotes that the bride is a commodity which can be given away as donation. The Allahabad HC, in a recent order, has categorically stated that kanyadaan is not an essential ritual under the Hindu Marriage Act and the Act only specifies the saptapadi (more commonly known as saat phere) as the essential ceremony to solemnize a marriage.

Although the new generation is increasingly protesting against what they feel is commodification of girls in such allegedly regressive practices, when fashion brand Manyavar/Mohey issued an ad in 2021 featuring Alia Bhat as a bride protesting against kanyadaan, which her character asks to be renamed as kanyamaan and which should include the groom's parents as well, there was a huge backlash on social media and the hashtag #Boycott Manyavar trended for many days. It showed that while the new generation is against regressive rituals, a significant number of Hindus see nothing wrong in kanyadaan being a part of Hindu marriage rituals. There is also a tradition in Christianity in which the bride's father 'gives' away the bride.

But with the Allahabad HC now confirming that kanyadaan is not an essential ritual to solemnize a Hindu wedding under the Hindu Marriage Act, at least for legal purposes it does not matter if the new generation wishes to exclude it from the wedding rituals. In the Hindu Marriage Act, Section 5 provides conditions under which a couple can marry and they include - legal age, not already married, not of unsound mind, not related by blood to each other (unless customs or usage permit such a marriage) and not sapindas of each other. If these conditions are fulfilled, Section 7 says that they can be married according to "customary rites and ceremonies of either party" and if the rites and ceremonies include saptapadi "the marriage becomes complete and binding when the seventh step is taken." It can be argued that if the customary rites and ceremonies of either party include kanyadaan, it can become a contesting factor if it is not performed, but even in the absence of kanyadaan, if saptapadi is performed (and if it is a customary rite or ceremony of either party), then the marriage becomes complete and binding with the completion of the seventh step, regardless of the fact whether kanyadaan, or for that matter any other ritual, was performed or not.