Marriage is regarded an important event in the life of a Hindu man because without a wife he cannot enter the “Grihastha ashrama” ordained by the holy law givers. Besides, without marriage there can be no offspring and without a son, no release from the chain of birth-death-rebirth.
The importance of Hindu marriage lies in the fact that, being a religious sacrament is indissoluble. Only death can normally separate those who have been united through holy matrimony.
The Hindu marriage ceremony consists of a series of ritual performances, the most important of which are the gift of his daughter by the father to the bridegroom (kanyadan).
Eight forms of the Hindu marriage ceremony are recognized. When a father gifts his daughter to a learned man of good character, it is called “brahma marriage”. If it is a priest to whom the daughter is gifted, it is called “daiva marriage”.
When a prospective son-in-law makes the gift of a bull and cow to the girl’s father before receiving her as gift, it is called “Aesha marriage’. Marriage by put chase is called “Asura”; marriage based on mutual love is called “Gandharva”.
When a father gifts his daughter to a man after duly honoring him, and exhorts the couple to perform their dharma together, it is called “prajapatya marriage”. Abduction is called “rakshasa”.