Svayamvara | October 19, 2004

Svayamvara means choice or self-selection. It is a term used to describe the selection of a husband by a young woman. It is one of the eight legally approved types of Hindu marriage, prevelent till the eleventh century A.D.
Normally, the celebration of a svayamvara ceremony was widely publicized and suitors were invited from far and wide without any restriction of caste, creed, or status. The young woman would observe all of the assembled suitors and put the jaimala (the garland of victory) around the neck of the man of her choice. Sometimes the choice depended on the fulfillment of a special condition involving a test of the skill or prowess of the suitor. For example, in the well-known svayamvara of princess Sita, the condition to be fulfilled was the breaking of the huge ancient bow of Shiva. Rama, the young prince of Ayodhya, fulfilled this condition. Another example is that of Arjuna, who won Draupadi as his wife by exhibiting extraordinary skill in archery and successfully hitting the eye of a fish.
Even in the present practice of arranged marriage in India there is a covert choice on the part of the bride, disguised in the custom of getting the verbal consent of the girl before the final scriptural rite of marriage.

Posted by admin at October 19, 2004 10:52 AM

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