Marriage is an important social institution. It is a relationship, which is socially approved and sanctioned by custom and law. It is also a set of cultural mechanisms which ensure the continuation of the family. It is more or less a universal social institution in India.

Structural and functional changes in the marriage system

The marriage system had undergone radical changes especially after independence. Even though the basic religious beliefs associated with marriage have not crumbled down, many of the practices, customs, and forms have changed. The recent changes in the marriage system are as follows:

  • Changes in the aim and purpose of marriage: In traditional societies the primary objective of marriage is ‘dharma’ or duty; especially among But today the modern objective of marriage is more related to ‘life-long companionship’ between husband and wife.
  • Changes in the form of marriage: Traditional forms of marriages like polygamy, polygyny are legally prohibited in India. Nowadays, mostly monogamous marriages are practiced.
  • Change in the age of marriage: According to legal standards, the marriageable age for boy and girl stands at 21 and 18 respectively. Average age of marriage has gone up and pre-puberty marriages have given place to post-puberty
  • Increase in divorce and desertion rates: Relaxed legislative provisions for divorce have virtually affected the stability of the marriage, particularly in the urban . It is mainly due to economic prosperity and internet connectivity. Internet has exposed people to the different social trends prevalent across the world and has revolutionized the institution in an otherwise conservative Indian society.
  • Live in relationships: They are on a steady growth rate in India especially among the youth in metropolitan cities. The institution also has legal recognition as a three judge bench of SC in 2010 observed that a man and a woman living together without marriage cannot be construed as an offence and held that living together is a Right to Life and Liberty (Article 21). SC has also acknowledged that children born out of such relations are legitimate and have property rights of their parents under Section 16 of Hindu Marriage Act,