Marriage is regarded as one of the most important and sacred institution in Indian society. Though it is observed differently by people belonging to different sects of the society, its sanctity and purpose remains the same. Marriage is basically an interpersonal relationship between a man and a woman, with social, religious and legal recognition. Moreover, there are many names given to a Marriage such as Civil Marriage, which is the legal name of the tradition. A wedding ceremony is referred to as the ritual performed by a religious officiator.
Religious Marriage Ceremony
Religious marriages are conducted following a number of customs and rituals and are deemed legal in India. Usually, the marriages are observed with great pomp and show, along with a procession. After the marriage ceremony is over, the most important thing to be obtained is the marriage certificate. For Christians, Muslims, Parsis, Jews, and Baha’i followers, a marriage certificate issued by the religious authority is considered a legal proof of marriage. Therefore, no certificate is required from the Marriage Registrar. However, in the case of Hindus, Jains, Sikhs and Buddhists, the certificate issued by the religious organization is not sufficient. These people need to obtain a formal marriage certificate from the Registrar.
Civil Marriage Ceremony (Registered Court Marriage in India)
All those people, who want to escape the grandeur of religious marriages, can opt for civil marriage ceremony. These ceremonies are strictly formal without any exaggeration. In civil marriages, no additional effort is required to be put to register the marriage because the registration procedure itself is the marriage ceremony. However, the couple needs to drop an application well in advance, approximately one month before hand. This time is utilized by the marriage officer, who publishes an ad in the newspaper, giving a chance to raise any objections against the marriage. The marriage registrar office is usually located in the complex of local court or municipality.
Special Marriage Act, 1954
Special Marriage Act allows any two individuals to marry (including intercast marriages), irrespective of their religion, caste and nationality. It even applies to people living abroad, with Indian nationality. Therefore, any marriage under the Special Marriage Act is a Civil Marriage by registration. However, there are some conditions to be fulfilled under this act.
- Neither party should have a living husband or wife.
- Neither party should be a lunatic or insane.
- The bridegroom should not be less than 21 years of age whereas the bride must be 18 years old.
- The parties should not be involved in any prohibited relationship.
- Both parties should be the citizens of and domiciled within the territories mentioned in the Act.
- Notice must be given by the bride and bridegroom to the Marriage Officer of the district, with one of them residing immediately previous to the notice for atleast 30 days.
- Marriage Officer records the notice and sends a copy to the Marriage Officer of the District.
- 30 days time is given for any person to raise any objections to the intended marriage.
- From the date of receipt of any objections, the Marriage Officer should enquire into the same, within 30 days.
- If the objections are found valid, either party to the intended marriage may appeal to the District Court, whose decision shall be binding.
- In case there is no objection or the objection is rejected, the parties with 3 witnesses sign in presence of the Marriage Officer, declaring they are unmarried and are not related within prohibited degrees.
- The marriage is then solemnized in any form which parties choose to adopt. The form must have the following declaration by each party to the effect; "I take thee to be my lawful wife (or husband)." The parties and 3 witnesses then sign the certificate of solemnization. This certificate is conclusive certificate of solemnization.
- The solemnization should be completed within 3 months from the date of notice, failing which the notice lapses and a new notice needs to be issued.