Marriage in India

Marriage in India

The Age at Marriage in India

The mean marriage age of Indians is very low, especially among the females and Hindus have influenced other religious groups. The girls are married off just after getting their first menstrual period. After reception of menstruation, a non-revocable betrothal is arranged, but the children stay with their parents until a ceremony is performed to make the marriage official. Christians have, however, the highest mean age of marriage followed by Sikhs, Muslims, and Hindus regarding both sexes. In as much as there is a slight difference in child marriage age, the variance is not as high. This is because the converts to other religions were descendants of the Hindus and therefore have not yet fully abandoned their cultures.

The difference in castes also determines the mean age of marriage. Females from the depressed cast have a low mean age of marriage followed by warrior castes then trading castes which also relates to the males in these tribes. The Sarda Act that was passed in 1891 has seemed to be of great impact in reducing child marriage in India since the mean age has been rising although there are noticeable regional trends on the mean age of marriage in different states.

Cross-Cousin Marriage in South India

In south India, it is customary for a boy child to marry his uncle’s daughter from the mother’s side. He can also marry his aunt’s daughter from his father’s side or even marry his sister’s daughter. Failure in observing the custom can result in excommunication. In the eighteenth century, the Komati vaiyas observed the following:

In case the sister had a son, the son was supposed and obligated to marry the daughter of the brother despite the girl being beautiful or not physically attractive. At the instance where a brother had two daughters and two sisters each with a son, the brother was obligated to give each of his daughters to the sons for marriage. In some cases, the brother may have many daughters, and the sister has many sons, the brother can only marry off one of his daughters to the eldest sister’s son and act as he deems fit with the rest of his daughter. Marriage revolves around the extended family unit, and intermarriage is not encouraged.

Female Schooling and Marriage Change in India

Education in today’s society has initiated dynamism in marriage age all over the world. Also, marriage age affects education. Looking at the first instance, over the last sixty years, there has been a high rate of increased literacy level on the female population and a corresponding increase in the marriage age. This is because the duties in marriage and the roles in schools are not compatible. This can be attributed to the fact that people perform certain roles at certain ages in their lifetime. The increased educational intakes have drastically reduced the marriage rates for girls schooling. The girls have to concentrate on the duties expected in schools and thus engaging in marriage will conflict with their expectations. Marriage will act as an obstacle to better performance and realization of their goals and careers. They hence decide to engage in marriage at a later point after education thus increasing the age of marriage.

Education gives the girl child more exposure and ideas about life. They help them get a better understanding of themselves and the options to embrace and forego in their traditions. It empowers the girl child and gives her power to decision making in marriage. Thus education can raise the marriage age and delay companionship. Looking at the second instance, in India where community views early marriage as normal, the marriage age will have an impact on education. If the age limit is lower, it means that girls will be married off earlier and thus the literacy rate will consequently fall. If the age for marriage is higher, they will stay longer in school and thus increase their literacy levels. Recent studies have shown that the marriage age for women in India has increased as a result of the increased schooling.

Reproduction, Functional Autonomy and Changing Experiences of Intimate Partner Violence within Marriage in Rural India

Men have been more violent in marriages in India which have led to serious health consequences among women which include, poor nutrition, increased maternal and child mortality rate, decrease in mental and reproductive health and limited health seeking. The violence mostly is due to gender inequality where men feel more superior to women. The community views it morally correct as it’s their culture and a form of punishment to the women which has also led to the isolation of women. Women are beaten up by men in cases such as when she denies him sex, does not cook properly or goes out without telling the husband.

Men tend to maintain their muscularity this way, and thus women are the ones who suffer in these marriages. With violence in the family, women mostly are unable to make various choices such as seeking health care and the use of contraceptives. There is also a high preference for the male child which has increased rates of violence and sex-selective abortions, discrimination, and negligence of the female child.  Psychological abuse and control have become the norm in families. The employment of women has not stopped the violence either as men seek to maintain their superiority. There is little attention given to the violence in marriage since it’s the culture of the Indians and women have to live with the violence since they cannot go back to their parents’ home.


Agarwala, S. (1957). The Age at Marriage in India. Population Index, 23(2), 96-107. doi:10.2307/2731762

Richards, F. (1914). 97. Cross-Cousin Marriage in South India. Man, 14, 194-198. doi:10.2307/2787822

Dommaraju, P. (2009). Female Schooling and Marriage Change in India. Population (English Edition, 2002-), 64(4), 667-683. Retrieved from

Bourey, C., Stephenson, R., & Hindin, M. (2013). Reproduction, Functional Autonomy and Changing Experiences of Intimate Partner Violence Within Marriage in Rural India. International Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 39(4), 215-226. Retrieved from


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