By Swami Harshananda
Daiva-vivāha literally means ‘marriage related to the rite of gods’.
Vivāha or marriage has been a very ancient institution right from the times of the Ṛgveda. The mantras used in the marriage ceremonies of the dvijas (‘the twice-born,’ the brāhmaṇas, the kṣattriyas and the vaiśyas) even in the modern days are drawn heavily from the Vedic and allied literature.
Daiva-vivāha is one of the eight forms of marriage depicted in the ancient works like the Gṛhyasutras and considered one of the superior varieties of marriage. It can be described as gifting one’s daughter after properly decorating her to a priest who has officiated in the sacrifice. It was almost like dakṣiṇā or sacrificial fee.
It was called ‘daiva’ since the sacrifice was for appeasing the devas or gods like Indra and the gifting of the girl took place as a part of the sacrifice. This form of marriage seems to have been discouraged and hence disappeared in course of time.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore