Feb 14, 2022

Indian Matchmaking and the Legal Criteria for Hindu Marriages

Malavika Rajkumar

Complexion, height and looks are not legal criteria for marriage


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Source: Indian Express

Indian Matchmaking is the Netflix Show which has made waves in the Indian marriage market. It attempts to portray how the Indian matchmaking industry works. Matchmaker Sima Taparia guides clients in the U.S. and India in the arranged marriage process, offering an inside look at the custom in a modern era. It also indicates the various criteria society imposes to find a suitable bride or groom. As entertaining as this show is, the discussions revolve around the complexion, height, wealth and caste of the suitors involved. These social factors may or may not be important to you, but one must look at what the legal criteria are for Hindu Marriages in India.

Criteria for a Legal Hindu Marriage


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Source: Indian Express. No, being flexible is not a criteria under the law


The show makes various references to criteria to keep in mind while matching the couple. However, under the law, the following conditions must be met:


Who can marry under Hindu Marriage Act, 1955?

For a marriage to be legally recognized as a Hindu Marriage, certain criteria need to be met under the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955. If you want to marry under the Hindu Marriage Act, you have to be one of the following set of persons:

  • Any person who is a Hindu by religion. This includes Veerashaiva, Lingayat or a follower of the Brahmo, Prarthana, or Arya Samaj.
  • Buddhist, Jaina or Sikh by religion.

Persons who practise other religions such as Muslims, Christians, Parsis, or Jews cannot get married under this law. Those who also governed by Hindu law or custom or usage can also marry under the Hindu Marriage Act.

Age Criteria


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Source: iDiva


34, is good! This means that a woman above the age of 18, can marry under the Hindu Marriage Act. There is no upper limit when it comes to age. As per Section 5 of the Hindu Marriage Act, the minimum age for a marriage under Hindu law is 21 years of age for the groom and 18 years of age for the bride. If this age criterion is not met, then not only is your marriage not legal, but it will also be considered to be child marriage. Further, you may also be punished with jail time of 15 days or a fine or Rs.1000 or both if convicted by a Court.


Sound Mind and Consent


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Source: YouthKiAwaaz


Valid Hindu marriages require both the bride and groom to give consent to the marriage. If you are not able to give consent because of:

Unsoundness of mind or Because of a mental disorder which makes you ‘unfit for marriage and the procreation of children’ or; If you get ‘recurrent attacks of insanity’, your marriage will not be valid.

The Mental Healthcare Act, 2017 in Section 3(5) has clarified that merely having a mental illness is not in of itself grounds for having an unsound mind. Since the Hindu Marriage Act is silent on the definitions of sound mind and insanity, Courts have given some clarification regarding the meaning of sound or unsound mind.

The Supreme Court in State Of Rajasthan vs Shera Ram (2011) stated that having an unsound mind would mean a mental condition because of which a person cannot be expected to be aware of the consequences of his actions. Some examples mentioned by the Court include dementia, loss of memory, and hallucinations. In another case called Hari Singh Gond vs State Of M.P.(2008), the Supreme Court also discussed that since the term insanity has no precise definition under the law, it can be construed to mean varying degrees of mental disorders.


Previous Marriages


Neither husband nor wife can be married at the time of marrying each other. For example, if Seema was already married to Rajesh during her marriage with Rahul. In such situations, as per Section 11 of the Hindu Marriage Act, the marriage will be declared as “void”- meaning invalid from the start. Indian law allows for remarriage only when the bride or groom has divorced their partner or annulled their marriage.


Prohibited Relationships


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Source: PopXO


Legally speaking, this cannot happen. If the bride and groom are within the degrees of prohibited relationship, then their marriage will not be a valid marriage under Hindu law. However, the law permits such relationships if they are seen as a customary practice.

The following are the kinds of prohibited marriages:

If one spouse is a lineal ascendant of the other. A lineal ascendant includes a father, mother, grandfather and grandmother, but also great grandfather and great grandmother and so on. If one spouse is the wife or husband of a lineal ascendant or descendant of the other. A lineal descendant will include not only children and grandchildren but also great grandchildren and their children as well. If the two spouses are brother and sister, uncle and niece, aunt and nephew, or first cousins. If one spouse is the ex spouse or widow(er) of your sibling , father’s or mother’s sibling or your grandfather’s or grandmother’s sibling.

If any of these conditions given are not met, then the law may not recognize your marriage as being legal, and in some cases, you might face punishment of jail time of 1 month or Rs. 1000 or both.



Sapinda relationships are also prohibited under Hindu marriage law. However, the law permits sapinda relationships which are seen as a customary practice.

A sapinda is someone who is:

within or has a common ancestor relative within three generations above you on your mother’s side of the family within or has a common ancestor relative within five generations above you on your father’s side of the family.

A sapinda can be someone from your father’s side or mother’s side hence, you are not eligible for a Hindu marriage if you marry someone who is a Sapinda.

If any of these conditions given are not met, then the law may not recognize your marriage as being legal, and in some cases, you might face punishment of jail time of 1 month or Rs. 1000 or both.


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Source: IndiaToday


Smartness, fair skin, colour etc. are not legal criteria under the law while getting married. Only when these condition mentioned above are met above, can you actually get married under the Hindu Marriage law. After making sure the legal criteria are met, the other most important factor in a marriage is the registration of marriage. This is given in Section 8 of the Hindu Marriage Act and is determined by rules given by State Government may make rules regarding registration. There is a Hindu Marriage Register in which the marriages will be entered when you approach a marriage officer.

If you do not want to marry under the Hindu Marriage Act, you also have an option to register under the Special Marriage Act, 1954. The Special Marriages Act provides specific provisions for marriages between all Indian nationals, no matter which religion they follow. Like every other marriage law in India, this Act deals with the conditions for a valid marriage, its registration, and the conditions for it being annulled. Read more here.


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