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that a husband and wife do on the date of actual consummation of marriage, as soon as they retire into the bed chamber, is to exchange betel. This practice is observed invariably on the 4th day of marriage by all classes of Brahmans..... This mock consummation proves beyond doubt that child marriage, which was not so common, is only a later graft on the ancient marriage after puberty.
Apart from the unfounded nation that a girl attaining puberty before betrothal loses her caste, the difficulty of obtaining young boys suited to the girl as to age and position at future time, as the girl grows as old as 12 or 13, engrosses the attention of the parents, and they begin to negotiate for the boys from the very moment of the birth of the girl. The boy's parents receive thousands of offers of the kind, with rich dowries, and they choose........
The next thing that encourages infant marriage, is the cursed astrology in which the uneducated women and the edu. cated men alike confide.............Every one believes that the country will get on as pre-ordained by Brahma............No Brahman betrothment takes place, without an astrologer's opinion of the coincidance, in every respect, of the horoscopes of the infant boy and girl to be betrothed, and the chief thing that the astrologer is asked to ascertain is that the girl will not lose her husband, and become a widow. If the astrologer says that the horoscopes agree, the parents of the girl think that they have made the best selection imaginable... Palmistry by which gipsies in England indulge in fleecing young girls by predicting their future, is made a criminal offence. Astrology has been breediny more mischief in this country.
2. C. SUBBARAYA AIYAR.—The restrictions which religion, as at present understood, or more properly, caste rules, impose upon the marriage institutions of the country, naturally tend to circumscribe within narrow limits the field for selection, and leave, the parents no option in the matter but to select, at the earliest opportunity, the best girls available for marriage to their boys. The narrower the field the keener the competition, and hence infant or rather early marriages are brought about.
3. T. PATTABHIRAM.—I do not deny that young men in India get themselves married earlier than those in the European countries, and so are the Mahomadans and Christians in this country. That is because of the climatic and other influences, and it cannot I think be saccessfully counteracted by any rules............ Sir Comarasamy of Ceylon Mr. Mutha Krishna of Madura, Mr. Sabapathi Aiyah of Hydrabad and his brother Meenatchi Aiyah of Bangalore, are so many instances of enlightened men acting up to their convictions, and losing all chance of serving their community.
When the circumstances of the state of society among the Brahmins in the Smriti and Puranic periods are taken into consideration, one cannot but come to the conclusion that, in the lawless state of the country at the time,...... the patriarch considered it desirable to secure a guardian and protector to the girl before she bloomed into womanhood. While the future husband was certain of the virgin purity of his wife, the girl herself had the double protection of her father's and husband's families, against seduction or mistakes wbich will embitter and poison her wedded life. Subsequent to the Vedic period (a period when the female had enjoyed the privilege of giving herself away to any young man she chose, after her years of discretion), the patriarchs would seem to have introduced the rule of marrying girls before puberty, in view to keep the blood pure, and eliminate all impurities from the Brahman stock........... .... Weak as the Brahman class is in physique as compared with the other classes of the Hindus, the superiority of their intellect as a class is most prominent and noticeable. This I believe is mostly due to the old patriarchal rule, which kept their blood and stock pure and untainted .....
This inhuman practice (marriage of girls to old men for money) is also prevalent among certain sections of the Brahmans (Kaniyalars and Aiyangars) in the Madras Presidency.
SECTION II. BOMBAY PRESIDENCY.
4. NANDSHANKAR.—Hindu parents generally believe that, their first and principal duty towards their children is to get them married. A long standing custom, coupled with some injunctions in what are commonly regarded as Shastras, enjoins that girls under 10 years of age should be married. Then, again, the desire of parents to partake of the pleasure of seeing their children united in bonds of matrimony at an early age, to enjoy the marriage festivities which are looked forward to with a keen interest, to see them married in their own life-time or in that of some old members of the family—these and other considerations, lend support and countenance to this practice.
5. HARI PARSAD SANTOKRAM.-The Hindu marriage is a religious sacrament. It therefere takes the form of a gift of the daughter by a father to the intended son-in-law, and certain sentiments of purity operate to make it neeessary that the gift should be complete before her attaining the age of puberty.
6. VENKUT RANGO KATTI.—Girls in India arrive at maturity much earlier (generally in the 12th year), than those in Europe, or in any other temperate climate.
Experience has shown again that to leave girls and boys long after their 12th and 16th years respectively, without their partners, leads to looseness of character and disease. Add further, the extreme tenderness for children cherished by Hindu fathers who consider it their final duty to their children, to see “ two hands turned into four", and also the difficulty caused by caste of finding a good and respestable matrimonial alliance, particularly in the case of girls............ The custom of spending as much money as one can afford in the celebration of mar.
Tiages, has its own part to act. A poor old father, seeing the difficulty of his son's or daughter's marriage after his death, is thus naturally tempted to finish it in his life-time, even when the child has not yet left its cradle.
7. RUNCHORELALL CHOTALALI (AHMEDABAD).-In a Pro. vince like Gujrat, where the Hindu community is divided and subdivided into so many small castes, it is very difficult to rule that girls should not marry before a certain age. It is possible that, in a small caste, all available boys may be married away if the parents of girls were to wait until a fixed age ; and as they cannot give in marriage their daughters to boys of different castes, they are obliged to marry their daughters at such a time
be most convenient to them.
8. BHOLANATH SARABHAI (AHMEDABAD). The origin of this custom (early marriage) can be sought in the division. and sub-division of society into numerous castes, and ignorance of the spirit of the Hindu Shastras which never enjoin early marriage either for a male or a female............ These divisions are more in number in Gujrat and Kattyawar than in the Deccan. 9. JAGJIVANDAS, (SURAT.)
In this country, clubs, hotels, and boarding houses or schools are not as amply and conveniently provided as in Europe and America. On the other hand, Hindus on account of their caste prejudices cannot resort to them as freely as Mahomedans and Parsis. Accordingly the assistance of females is urgently needed for the management of domestic affairs in almost every family. In agricultural and several other avocations such as weaving &ca., the assistance of females is also as useful as that of males. The parents of a boy therefore consider it to be their main duty to see him provided with a suitable match, as far as the means at their disposal permit.......
Amongst Parsis a great change has however already taken place in this direction, without any legislative or government departmental measure.....
Many Parsis bitterly complain of the change, on the ground that when infant marriage was much prevalent amongst them, respectable unions could conveniently be effected without large expenditure in the shape of dowry, but now a father of a girl is required by the intended husband to pay an exorbitant sum for the marriage, and in the event of his refusal or inability to meet the demand, the results are often very unsatisfactory in many respects.
10. SAKHARAM ARJUN. (Bombay.)—Taking human nature as it is, bearing in mind the climatic influences on the native physique, and the enervating effect of social customs, recognizing the fact that the mental culture, the basis of self restraint of the community, particularly the female part of it, is at best only partially developed, and must continue to be so for years to come, all these facts considered, I am fully persuaded that our system of marriage is most wholesome under present circumstances, whatever our English friends may think of it, and is eminently adapted to prevent those dread contingencies to which late marriages are exposed.
11. VISHRAM RAMJI GHOLLAY, ASSISTANT SURGEON Poona.-The primary object of early marriages, in India, where the climatic influences bring on an early development of sexual proclivities, is to get a girl married just about her minimum age for maturity viz 12 years, and a boy about the age of 17 or 18 years, so that they may not go astray, and that the male youths may be saved from the pernicious effects of masturbation, an evil which exists to a great extent among the boys of the higher castes. The primary object is greatly abused by the people of late, owing to the peaceful times which they enjoy, and the custom has been allowed to preponderate more to one side than the other. Hence it has become an admitted evil to some extent among us—but the people have now become quite sensible of its pernicious effects on our moral physical and social constitution, by the dawn of Western civilization and education, which has penetrated the innermost parts of our society.