Social institutions are created to regulate, control and systemetise the human through these human beings fulfill their needs in a socially and culturally approved manner and thereby help in running the society smoothly. Among all other social institutions the major and universal institutions like ‘Marriage’, ‘Family’, ‘Kinship’ and ‘Religion” etc. play a vital role in every society.
Marriage as an institution has been defined by various sociologists. The following are some of the important definitions given by eminent sociologists and social anthropologists.
Edward Westermarck in his “History of Human Marriage” says that “marriage is a relation of one or more men to one or more women which is recognised by custom or law and involving certain rights and duties both in the case of the parties entering the union and in the case of the children born of it”.
Mazumdar ,H.T. in his Grammar of sociology defines marriage “as a socially sanctioned union of male and female or as a secondary institution devised by society to sanction the union and mating of male and female, for purposes of :
(a) Establishing a household.
(b) Entering into sex relations.
(c) Procreating and
(d) Providing care of the offspring”.
Horton and Hunt in their ‘sociology’ say that marriage is “the approved social pattern whereby two or more persons establish a family’.
H.M.Johnson defines marriage as ‘a stable relationship in which a man and a woman are socially permitted without loss of standing in community, to have children”.
From the above and other definitions, we may briefly define marriage as a socially approved union of individuals of opposite sexes with the expectation that they will play their roles of husband and wife. Marriage should not be treated as simple a biological mating rather it is social and cultural. That is why there is a saying that, the animal mates but man marries. The basic motive behind this is that marriage implies a ceremony, a union with social sanctions and recognitions of the partner or partners. It a special type of a personal relationship involving mutual rights and duties.