The belief in Ashramas means that all Hindus should go through the Householder stage of life.
The belief in dharma means that performing all the duties of a householder and raising children is a step on the way to achieving Moksha. It is the most excellent stage because it supports people in other stages.
The family is also important as it is where children learn right from wrong and learn how to be good Hindus.
Puja and other Hindu practices are based in the home and family.
Good parents will
- Provide for their children
- Perform daily puja
- Teach their children about puja, Hinduism and what is right & wrong.
- Ensure boys have the sacred thread ceremony.
- Encourage their children to attend the Mandir
Good children will
- Obey their parents
- Respect their parents
- Care for their parents when they are old.
- Marriage marks the transition between two stages of life that of the student and the householder.
- Marriage is viewed as being for life and as being a religious or spiritual event.
- Traditionally couples have been of the same varna and marriages arranged, often through consulting horoscopes.
- It is increasingly common (especially in UK) for couples to find their own partner.
- ‘Let man and woman, united in marriage, constantly exert themselves, that they may not be disunited and may not violate their mutual fidelity.’ (Laws of Manu, 9:102)
Marriage is viewed as a Gift from God which serves the following purposes.
- To allow the couple to have sex.
- To join two families together.
- To allow the couple to share love & each other’s company.
- To produce children.
- To enable fulfillment of the householder stage of life.
As with all aspects of Hinduism, marriages can be diverse.
- All Hindu weddings are carried out by a priest.
- The bridegroom and his family come to the bride’s house and are welcomed.
- A silk cloth is held between the couple by the priest and various songs of blessing are sung as the guests throw rice over the couple.
- The father gives his daughter to the groom asking him to live a good life in dharma (his moral duty), artha (the earning of money) and kama (the enjoyment of life).
- The groom’s mother gives a gift to the bride.
- Prayers are said as the groom offers gifts to the sacred fire (Havan) to encourage fertility.
- The vows are taken. ‘I hold your hand in the spirit of dharma- we are both husband and wife.’
- The bride steps on a stone to represent the stability which marriage will bring to their lives.
- The couple take seven steps around the Havan as laid down in the Law of Manu. The first step is for food, the second for strength, the third for wealth, the fourth for happiness, the fifth for children, the sixth for sustenance and the seventh for unity.
- The couple look at the sun (or the pole star at night) to be blessed.
- The couple receive blessings from the priest.
Hinduism disapproves of divorce. It can be considered as a stigma socially and the more traditional a Hindu the less likely they are to divorce or re-marry.
One of the Laws of Manu teaches that a wife must respect even an unfaithful husband.
Despite this the number of divorces both in India and in Hindu communities in the UK is increasing.
However, divorce is permissible if there is cruelty or if after 15 years of marriage no children have been produced.