Of the sixteen
Samskaras in the life of a Rajasthani, marriage is the most sacred and
the most important. It is considered a religious and social obligation
on every able bodied person to get married.
The normal type of marriage is one arranged by parents,
usually within the same caste. Marriages are arranged through the good
offices of a Bhat, Charan or Purohit. The family priest compares the horoscopes
of the boy and the girl and if they tally, the marriage is settled. There
is no fixed age for marriage, but normally girls are married at the age
of eighteen and boys at twenty-one in cites and towns. In rural areas,
child marriages although banned by law are still very common, specially
in tribal areas. Among the Sahrias, marriage is settled when the child
is still in the womb of the mother.
If a girl is married before she attains puberty, she
stays with her family. After she attains puberty, the bridegroom is invited
to take her away. The bridegroom comes with a party of friends and relatives.
Presents are given to him, and the women of the family and locality assemble
at the bride's residence to greet him and his party and sing songs. Sweets
are distributed. This custom is very common in rural areas where child
marriages are still very popular. In urban areas, Gauna is rare.
Inter-caste marriages are not very common in Rajasthan,
but they are becoming increasingly popular and acceptable. Among the educated
and enlightened who want to break caste barriers, such marriages are no
longer very rare. On the other hand, they are welcome.
Inter Religious Marriages
Inter-religious marriages, during medieval times, were
a result of political pressure by the Mughals. They were never approved
by the people. The abhorred the very idea of the Hindu-Muslim marriages.
Inter-religious marriages are almost unheard of in Rajasthan in modern
times with a few exceptions.
Polygamy is another legacy of Rajasthan. Although banned
by law, polygamy is fairly common among the Rajputs, the Bhils, Meenas
and other tribal communities. They still consider it as a status
symbol. The Jagirdars and Rajputs have traditionally been polygamous.