Self-respect marriages should be made legal everywhere in India

Self-respect marriages should be made legal everywhere in India


When self-respect movement stirred in India and people started realizing their rights over the walls of caste and class created by the religious heads, one of the sociological changes came in the form of self-respect marriage system. According to this system, “marriages could be conducted without being officiated by a Brahmin priest.”

It has been forty-seven years since Tamil Nadu became the only state to legalize self-respect marriages and continues to be the only one. Recently, we heard that Madras high court ruled down on claims to make self-respect marriages illegal.

E V R Periyar founded the movement and his words to shun conventional marriages were loud and clear. He called for simple ceremonies in the presence of family and friends instead of the big feast pulled out during Indian marriages. PILs were filed that claimed conventional traditions to be of importance in a marriage which was ruled out by High court. Isn’t it about time that we make self-respect marriages legal in the whole of India?


1. The chief reason behind the shunning of the conventional system of marriages was to stop discrimination of superior and inferior as laid down by the caste system which is still practiced in some places where people of some castes are not allowed to take part in religious activities that includes the involvement of Brahmin priests. Inter-caste marriages are still not possible in some regions and too much fuss is created by religious heads. Legalizing self-marriages would solve this problem to a good extent.

2. Marriage is all about two people tying the knot to be together in sickness and in health and it doesn’t matter how people go about taking vows. It is all about the choice of the two people on how they want to do it – conventional or the simple and modern way. Holy fire, seven steps, mangalsutras and the vows spelt in Sanskrit hardly understood by the couple should not be made mandatory if the couple is not wanting to go through it.

3. Rituals practiced in conventional marriages are mostly blind adherence practiced since ancient days and continues to be followed only on the grounds that their ancestors followed them. Too many rituals and customary practices are not very much accepted to the modern generation that seeks meanings and reasons in every practice. Some priests refused to conduct marriages of widows which gave birth to the practice of marriages without the involvement of a priest.

4. According to the bench that heard the PIL, “the Hindu religion by itself is pluralist in character and thus various forms of marriage traditionally exist depending on the area and the custom prevalent therein. The self-respect marriage provision inserted in 1967 has also stood the test of time, now for half a century.” This only brings out the fact that the decision to legalize self-respect marriage was a good one and must be implemented in other regions of the country.

5. There are rituals in the Hindu marriage system that are said to objectify women. “Kanya Dhanam” is one such ritual where a father gives away the girl to the groom, thereby giving him the protective custody of the girl. This is seen by some as making the girl an object to be donated. Mangalsutras are shunned by modern women who are not completely against the system by the binding nature of it. Women do not want to be compelled to wear the piece of beaded thread as a recognition of her bond with the husband. She doesn’t want people to make it obligatory mark of her marriage.


1. Our society has followed these rituals and customary practices in marriages since long and to ask them to give up on their long followed traditions is way too much to ask of them. People who are happy with the conventional system have passed on the legacy to their descendants who still find it difficult to embrace modern marriage system with fewer people involved. Even this generation wants to keep a balance between what they want and what the elders in their family want. Legalizing self-respect marriage would only create a drift between the two.

2. Mangalsutras are also not being made mandatory after marriage. Women have the choice whether or not to wear it. Similarly, meanings of the Sanskrit vows are being explained in simple words these days which removes the doubt of blind adherence. Changes that are needed are already being implemented by this generation and the elderlies of the family are trying to accept the changes. To do away completely with the age old traditions of marriage would only make it harder for these people to change their mindset which is not possible when the roots are deep set.

3. Calling the marriages in India a way to show off well is not completely wrong but the fact that this show off has created business opportunities for many cannot be ignored. Marriage planners, caterers and decorators have a place of their own owing to the traditions of marriages. If we all adapt the civil marriage system, these people would lose their job. If people who can afford the luxuries of throwing up grand weddings are willing to do so, there is absolutely nothing wrong in it.

4. Children hear and see marriages of the conventional type with all luxuries and family gatherings. They grow up imagining their weddings to be something of that sort, not to forget the hopes of elderlies to see the same kind of joyous ambience at the weddings of their children. It is about what people have envisioned since forever and to do away with it will be an emotionally distressing experience for both the parents and those getting married.

5. Inter-religion or inter-caste marriages already have a long list of people not so amused by the idea. Priest or no priest, couple tying the knot already get to go through a lot of distress. There is no harm if the couple could rather have traditions of both the cultures followed simultaneously instead of doing away with the conventional ways completely.


Self-respect marriages have some cons if considered from the point of view of our culture and traditions and the emotions of people attached to the same. However, there is nothing wrong in legalizing self-respect marriages for those who chose to do it that way. People should have the freedom to decide what kind of a marriage they want. It is a big happy day for the couple and the ways of doing it should be of their choice most definitely. Tamil Nadu has been following the system with no hindrance which is a hint to legalize it in the whole of our country.
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  • RE: Self-respect marriages should be made legal everywhere in India -sushil (11/24/15)
  • hi evryone!
    according to my point of view self respect marriage should be legalized in india. we r following conventional marriage system. and we r living in 21th century. marriage is all about tying the knot bw two pple.i think most of us dont understand the concept behind traditional system. we r still following relegion. caste etc. which is becoming hindrance in marriage.
  • RE: Self-respect marriages should be made legal everywhere in India -Deepa Kaushik (11/23/15)
  • Self-respect marriages are a good example of United India. We portray ourselves as Indians to the external world. But when it comes to bonding as a family, we restrict our sphere and sub-categorize ourselves in different sects, religions, regions, culture, tradition, dialect etc.

    There is no use calling ourselves as a single unit unless we have the essence of the same in our hearts. Self-respect marriages removes all these obstacles and unite us under the category of humans. We feel pride when our celebrity marries a foreigner. But what happens to our mindset when one among us marries someone belonging to other caste or religion in our country? Does the difference in the caste or religion vanishes with wealth and fame?

    We need to accept that we still are getting influenced with the superstitious stigmas being followed since generations. Our education is just on papers in the form of degree to search a livelihood. It is high time to implement our knowledge and remove all these outdated beliefs which does not carry any ground. Self-respect marriages would definitely open fresh thoughts into the society.

    We have spoken much regarding abolishment of religion or caste etc., but we can find them in every form we go ahead to apply. self-respect marriages would mingle all the caste, creed and religion and people would be unable to fill-in those columnms. That would be the day when we would be practically able to abolish all these social stigmas and get our virtual world to realization.

    Precisely, self-respect marriages are the door to actual democracy. It should be implemented across the country.
  • RE: Self-respect marriages should be made legal everywhere in India -anushka (11/21/15)
  • Hi everyone
    Regarding the present topic, its all the person's choice to go through a ceremonious wedding in the presence priest, or do without the priest and without following all the traditions. Their are many different ways marriages are conducted in India. Christians, Muslims, Hindus all conduct marriages in their own way. At the end of the way what really matters how much happy the couple are. So marriage actually doesn't depend upon the way it is conducted, but it depends upon the way the couple perceive it and travel with the other person. Apart from the different cultures if we take the marriage of communist people they take a simple oath to be together in all circumstances and celebrate the event of being together with their family members and closed ones. This kind of marriages are equally successful or equally failed as the traditionally conducted marriages. So what i feel is the process of the marriage the way it should be conducted should be the couple's choice. If they want their to be conducted traditionally and they believe in that then it should be done in that way. In the present society the marriage has become a very prestigious issue.Both sides of parents or even couple taking the marriage ceremony as just a mere show off of their wealth. This scenario not only applies for rich families, but for also typical middle class families, where they even take big amounts of loan just to show of to the society about their gold or wealth whatever.I don't support or oppose traditional marriage as it is entirely persons choice, but this kind of unnecessarily lavishly spending of money though they really don't have, doesn't makes any sense to me.
  • RE: Self-respect marriages should be made legal everywhere in India -DEEPAK KASHYAP (11/21/15)
  • hello everyone,
    this is most crazyfull topic for GD .i will apriciate it .according to my point of view self respect marriages is good sometimes if there is no problem from family side .if prom is there then much more you have extra like tension and family love .and i want to say if u have love some body special then you should be convience to your family .finally my view is this i love my family more than else.and she will also my family membar.
    thank u