Marriage is the union of two different surnames, in friendship and in love, in order to continue the posterity of the former sages, and to furnish those who shall preside at the sacrifices to heaven and earth, at those in the ancestral temple, and at those at the altars to the spirits of the land and grain. ”
The anthropological handbook Notes and Queries (1951) defined marriage as "a union between a man and a woman such that children born to the woman are the recognized legitimate offspring of both partners." In recognition of a practice by the Nuer of Sudan allowing women to act as a husband in certain circumstances, Kathleen Gough suggested modifying this to "a woman and one or more other persons."
Marriage and Religion
Hinduism sees marriage as a sacred duty that entails both religious and social obligations. Old Hindu literature in Sanskrit gives many different types of marriages and their categorization ranging from "Gandharva Vivaha" (instant marriage by mutual consent of participants only, without any need for even a single third person as witness) to normal (present day) marriages, to "Rakshasa Vivaha" ("demoniac" marriage, performed by abduction of one participant by the other participant, usually, but not always, with the help of other persons). In India and generally in South Asia, arranged marriages, the spouse's parents or an older family member choose the partner, are still predominant in comparison with so called love marriages until nowadays. The Hindu Widow's Remarriage Act 1856 empowers a Hindu widow to remarry.
Sati, the practice of a widow immolating herself on her husband's funeral pyre, was officially outlawed by India's British rulers in 1829. The last sati incident allegedly occured in Rajasthan in 1987 when 18-year-old Roop Kanwar allegedly committed sati.A court order ruled in 2004 that no such incident had occurred and acquitted all accused.