Social Factors Influencing the Choices of the Indian Hindu Married Women in Marriage



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In India, “Vivaha or marriage, is one of the most significant samaskara” (rite of passage) in Hinduism (Ramdya 2010:xi) and is deemed essential for virtually everyone. With the growing economy, increased educational levels, the gradual rise in ‘love match marriages’ and knowing that marriage is usually a onetime opportunity, young Indian couples are willing to adopt and reject certain elements of the traditional Vedic wedding rituals to fit into the larger scheme of their life’s meaning and establish their own style. In this study, in-depth interviews were conducted with 20 married Indian Hindu women currently living in the United States to identify and examine the social factors that influenced the choices that these women made regarding the various Vedic wedding rituals. Ann Swidler’s (2004) “tool-kit” approach provides a theoretical framework for better understanding of how culture works, i.e., the complex ways in which people use their diverse culture as repertoires to describe the meaning of another culture that shapes the individual’s day-to-day lives. The interviewed women identified the social factors as the influence of modernization and westernization in India; the role of family and community; and the role of education which affected their choices. These three major social factors played a significant role in their decisions and conceptualizing their choices in the ritual selection process as well as providing a means to better understand the changing aspects of the Indian society.



Hindu Marriage, Marriage, Rituals, Vedic rituals, Weddings, Hindus, Hinduism, Indian Weddings, Kanyadaan, Saptapadi/Saat-pheres, Haldi, Indian women, Women, Vedic laws, Dharmasastra, India, Interviews, Modernization, Modernism, Indian Education, Choices, Social Factors, Sociology of culture