Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, also known as LDS or Mormons, have different customs and beliefs regarding marriage, compared to members of the Hinduism faith. Three significant differences of marriage within the Hindu and Mormon faiths include: how the bride and groom meet before marriage, the wedding ceremony, and the eternal perspective of their marriage. Let me review these three significant differences in more detail.
Although 90% of Hindus and 83% of Mormons marry within their own faith in the US, there is a significant difference in how they are paired up in general (Haniffa, p. 1). Finding a spouse to marry is the first difference between the Hindu and Mormon faith. In an LDS relationship, the couple usually goes through a courting process. The individual is free to choose their own partner according to their own interests. LDS singles will date and court many different members before settling down with the person whom they will often refer to as “their eternal companion.” When they agree to be married, they are then considered engaged. In contrast, Hindu’s believe that there are eight different types of marriage arrangements. These are found under the laws of Manu. “The Laws of Manu describe an ideal code of behavior for Hindus.” (Matthews 77) The eight types of marriage are:
… the rite of Brahmana (Brahma), that of the gods (Daiva), that of the Rishis (Arsha), that of Prajapati (Prajapatya), that of the Asuras (Asura), that of the Gandharvas (Gandharva), that of the Rakshasas (Rakshasa), and that of the Pisakas (Paisaka). (Manusmrti (Laws of Manu) Matthews, p. 21)
Of these eight types of marriage, not all of them have religious procedures and the last four are condemned, such as the Pisakas (Paisaka). The Pisakas is defined below.
When a man by stealth seduces a girl who is sleeping, intoxicated, or
disordered in intellect, that is the eighth, the most base and sinful rite of the
Pisakas. (From Manusmrti (Laws of Manu) Chapter III #31)
Although arranged marriage is on the decline, it is still, by far, the most common form of marriage in the Hindu Religion. One website reported that in India 95% of marriages were arranged (Gibson, p. 1). Arranged marriage generally takes place when the parents of the bride and groom find a match for their son or daughter. Some considerations such as education, wealth, horoscope, and caste help the parents better choose a spouse for their son or daughter. Once the elders and family agree upon likely compatibility of the couple, they are engaged to be married, sometimes without having ever even met.
Second, there are differences between the marriage ceremony of a Mormon and the marriage of a Hindu. Although a Mormon can be married legally in a court of law, the most honorable, preferred, and sought after way of marriage is being “sealed” or married in a LDS Temple. The Holy Temple is a sacred building where sacred and confidential ordinances are performed. Those who enter the temple agree to keep these procedures and ordinances sacred and confidential. When the couple enters the temple, they change into all white clothes and are prepared for the sealing ordinance of marriage. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints does not give permission to disclose these ordinances. The Church counsels:
We do not quote the words of the sealing ordinance outside of the temple, but we may describe the sealing room as being beautiful in its appointment, quiet and serene in spirit, and hallowed by the sacred work that is performed there. (Preparing to Enter the Holy Temple)
Not everyone is permitted to enter an LDS temple. Only those who have been found worthy can enter. In some cases, one or both parents may not be allowed to enter the temple as they have not been found worthy. It is recommended that only family and very close friends to the bride and groom are allowed to attend.
Wedding groups should be small, comprising only the members of the two families and some few who are very close to the couple.” “A wedding reception is to provide a time for greeting the friends and the well-wishers. (Preparing to Enter the Holy Temple)
Within the Hindu faith, however, the whole family is involved, and it is a celebration that can last for hours or days. A Hindu wedding is officiated under a mandap, by a Hindu Priest. Anyone who the family wants to attend is welcome. The ceremony phases, rituals, and words are not confidential. They have deep meaning and symbolism for all to witness. The main colors of the brides dress are primarily red and gold. The ceremony can vary from region to region depending where one lives. One of the ceremonial rituals for the marriage includes a fire. The Pratigna-Karan is a part of the ceremony where bride and groom circle a fire, bride leading, and make commitments of loyalty, love, and fidelity.
Last, the difference between Hindu marriage and Mormon marriage is their eternal perspective to the marriage. Although the temple wedding ordinance is not disclosed by the LDS church, the principle and covenant behind the ordinance is. A covenant is an agreement between mankind and God. The temple covenant includes the couple’s promise to remain faithful to each other; in return the Lord promises that they will be sealed (married) together for life and all eternity. LDS members believe that through a temple sealing, they can enjoy each other’s companionship through this life and all eternity. When they pass away, their spirits are still bound by these sacred covenants and their spirits rest together in a spiritual paradise until the resurrection. When the resurrection occurs, their spirits are once again reunited with perfect physical bodies. It is only through marriage in the temple that one is able to dwell with the Lord in the highest degree of his kingdom. Although marriage is held sacred in the second phase of a Hindus life, it does not promise eternal life with their spouse and the Lord. When a Hindu couple joins in the union of marriage, they make commitments to each other, with God as their witness, but do not make a covenant with God. There are seven general vows that are made during a Hindu wedding. The last one is as follows:
When the bride and the groom take the seventh and the last vow, they promise that they will be true and loyal to each other and will remain companions and best of friends for their lifetime. (Seven Vows of Marriage)
When they die, they are no longer bound to one another and the cycle of Karma and re-incarnation begin again. This cycle of birth, life, death, and re-birth do not agree with the Mormon beliefs of birth, death, judgment and exaltation.
In conclusion, Mormons have different customs and beliefs regarding marriage compared to members of the Hinduism faith. While they both believe that marriage is a sacred part of this life, many more differences exist. Many Hindus believe in arranged marriages, while Mormons believe in personally dating and courting several possible spouses before getting engaged. The actual wedding ceremonies of Hindu and Mormon religions have drastic contrast. Hindus are married under outdoor mantraps, openly, and with friends and family present. Their wedding can last for days. In contrast, Mormons are married in temples with only a few worthy family and friends present. Their wedding ceremony only lasts about 20 minutes. Possibly the biggest contrast of Mormon and Hindu marriages is their eternal perspective. Hindus believe that their marriage will dissolve after one partner dies, and then be reincarnated to a different body and life. Mormons, however, believe that their spouse will be their eternal companion. They believe that the only way to enter into the highest degree of heaven is through a temple marriage with a worthy partner. What would you prefer, spending eternity with one partner or returning time and again, each a new experience?