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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 S ANTOKRAM.—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 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
riages, 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 CHOTALALL (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 as may 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 echools 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.
12. LALSHANKAR UMIASHANKAR.—The following appear to me to be the chief causes (of Infant Marriage). 1. Family pride. The sooner a boy is married the nobler
is considered his family. 2. The parental duty to marry their children to continue
the progeny is considered so supreme, that they (the parents) try to relieve themselves of this duty as
soon as possible. 3. The fear that if any bodily or mental defect is found
in a boy at an advanced age, it would be difficult to
get a bride for him. 4. The desire of ignorant parents that before their death
they should see their children married, and enjoy the
pleasure peculiar to infant marriages. 5. The notion of social disgrace to keep a girl, after
puberty, unmarried 6. On account of castes and sub-divisions therein, the
sphere of selection is very narrow. It becomes nar. rower in the case of elder girls. The difficulty of finding out a suitable husband thus increases with the age of the bride; every parent therefore tries the earliest opportunity to find out a suitable bridgroom.
Infant marriage is the result of this competition. 7. In cases where a bride is in fact sold for money, her
guardians, often, to make their gain sure, celebrate
the marriage as early as possible. 13. GOVINDRAO BABAJI JOSHI OF BARODA.--It does not appear from the Hindu Law books that the custom of early marriage existed in ancient times. If it were, therefore, asked as to how the custom originated, it appears to me that it must have come into vague under the Mahomadan rule. In these times, journeys to distant places were attended with dangers, and people must have been obliged to give their daughters in marriage in their own or neighbouring villages, instead of seeking alliances for them in remote parts of the country. In course of time, the anxiety on the part of the parents to secure suitable matches for their sons and daughters in their limited communities, may have led to the practice of early marriage, which gradually moving along the stream of time, has extended to our own period.
14. GOKALDAS KAHANDAS PAREKH.The causes of Infant Marriage ) are as under.
(a) Non-calculation of the effects, and in, difference to the results of early marriages.
(6) Very small caste subdivisions, limiting the number of brides and bridegrooms for one's selection.
(@) Gratification of vanity in reference to the caste by the betrothal and marriage of the children while mere infants...... A large number (even in a subdivision of caste) would be unavailable to a person for marriage by being related in the agnatic line, however distant, or by being within the sixth degree in the cognatic line.
The circumstance that a man's son is betrothed while yet a baby in the cradle, is considered popularly an indication of his high position in the caste, and that another man was not able to get his son betrothed so early is an indication to the contrary.
SECTION III. BENGAL PRESIDENCY.
15. BABU KEDARESSUR Roy, SMALL CAUSE COURT JUDGE, Dacca.—A father dies leaving his son, who in consequence becomes helpless; the widowed mother seeks for redress in a suitable marriage of the boy, that her son may be placed under the guardianship of a fathor-in-law, who may be able to educate him. This is also done during the life-time of a father, who is unable to bear the expenses consequent on the education of his son. Numerous instances of this nature may be found in all the Government Colleges and Schools.