Marriageable age for Muslim girls and Hindu girls

Kerala government has issued official circular directing local bodies to register marriages of Muslim girls at the age of 16. This sparked controversy and kicked up row in socio-political circles. It’s unconstitutional, say legal experts. But independent observers feel that nothing would change now as no government in India has courage to do anything when it comes to Muslim sentiments.

In Rigvedic society the age of marriage was 16-17 years. Please note that child marriage was not in vogue. According to experts Rigvedic verses suggest women can marry at a mature age when they are free to select their own husbands.

During the Vedic age, Indian women were assigned a high place in society. They shared an equal standing with their men folk and enjoyed liberty. The ancient Hindu concept of ‘Shakti’ (the feminine principle of energy) was also a product of this age. This took the form of worship of the female idols or goddesses.

Women, who so desired, could undergo the sacred thread ceremony or ‘Upanayana’ (a sacrament to pursue Vedic studies). In “Swayamvaram”, the bride chooses the groom by physical beauty or intelligence or other skills they possess. It was a free society then and marriages would happen at around 16-17 years!

Women status deteriorated in India after foreign invasion when child marriage became very common.

Reflect on this too: According to Hindu Law book Manusmriti the ideal age difference between a man and women for marriage should be 16 years. During Puranic times it was considered as 17 years for fruitful procreation.

If a girl is mentally and physically matured and if she has the freedom to choose (even in the arranged marriages) and if she has financial security for a comfortable living, does age really matters? You can argue highlighting the issues like ill-health, poverty and abuse. How can you relate those things only to age?

My experience with life (after seeing and interacting with lot of couples and families) force me say: “If you want to marry, marry at early age such a way that your son or daughter crosses teen-age before you reach late forties, the potential time-frame for heart-attacks” 🙂

P.S: And I am not suggesting the age of girl should be 16 or 17 for marriage. All I said was that it would be better marrying at early age (of course above 18 for girls), if (at all) a person wants to get marry.

From inputs from my article: Love, Sex and Marriage – Indian Style (

Udaylal Pai
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