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I have heard from some people that scriptures sanction marriage for girls before puberty. Some people also say that it is sinful for a girl to marry after puberty and that such girls should atone for them. Are these people correct from the point of scriptures? If yes, is there a prayaschitta for this? What is the prayaschitta?

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    I think not only for girls, but for entire family. – user9554 Dec 5 '17 at 5:52
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    It is duty of father to marry off girl before puberty. Modern 'scholars' would cry child-marriage. Westerners would call it worse. But physical relations do not happen until after she's gone through menarche. And usually not for a couple years after. In other countries, physical relations would happen after puberty due to natural urges of boys and girls. Our tradition is to prevent wayward danger, and control it within framework of marriage, while still allowing for natural kama to take its course. Coming to the point of 'sin'.. there is a prayaschitta Rtu Shanthi homa that vaidika families.. – ram Dec 5 '17 at 15:59
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    ..conduct even nowadays when girl is married after puberty (due to Sharda act and fearing legal and societal consequences). If girl is not married off until 16, like in circumstances where nobody comes asking for her hand, or her elders couldn't find suitable groom, then she has right to choose her own husband (swayamvara), and i don't think a sin accrues on that case. – ram Dec 5 '17 at 16:00
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    I read that, when Sharda act was passed, the vote was divided 50-50 (not unanimous), but British govt., in a parting shot, passed it anyway - Source - kamakoti.org . That is what's shocking.. For boys, marriage is not as important a samskara as it is for girls. For them, it is upanayana ceremony, where they approach a Guru. That's why they say the Guru-shishya relation is similar to Pati-Patni relation, and that's why both happened around age 7 for boys and girls in olden days. Boys must not marry until they have finished gurukula, which is ~8-12 years after upanayana i.e. 16-20 years old – ram Dec 5 '17 at 16:03
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    Even after gurukula, boys have an option of - Naishtika brahmacharya (lifelong celibacy).. or sanyasa (lifelong celibacy + renunciation of world and its relations), or gruhasthasrama (married life). Girls do not have such option, and it is not recommended for them to be spinsters (although there are extremely rare exceptions). – ram Dec 5 '17 at 16:07
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It is not a sin for the girl. It is a sin for the father. Because, as per the Smritis, a young girl is not allowed to act independently or take independent decisions.

At that time, when marriage is supposed to occur, she should be under the control and protection of her father and so it's the father's responsibility to marry her off at the correct time.

Manu Smriti 5.148. In childhood a female must be subject to her father, in youth to her husband, when her lord is dead to her sons; a woman must never be independent.

So, by not marrying her off at the prescribed time, it's the father who incurs guilt. The girl is not held responsible.

Manu Smriti 9.4. Reprehensible is the father who gives not (his daughter in marriage) at the proper time; reprehensible is the husband who approaches not (his wife in due season), and reprehensible is the son who does not protect his mother after her husband has died.

As per the Yama Smriti, apart from the father, the girl's mother and her eldest brother also incur the guilt.

The father who does not, give away [in marriage] his maiden-daughter after she has attained the twelfth year, drinks her menstrual month blood, after month. (22)

By beholding a maiden in [her] menses, her mother, and father, her eldest brother these three go to hell (23)

Yama Smriti 1-22,23

So, as you can see, nothing is being said for the girl. Only the parents and eldest brother are held responsible.

And, if a girl is not married off even after attaining the right age for it, then she can act independently and choose for her a husband.

Manu Smriti 9.91. If, being not given in marriage, she herself seeks a husband, she incurs no guilt, nor (does) he whom she weds.

  • What about boys? – Surya Kanta Bose Chowdhury Dec 7 '17 at 16:33
  • No such rules for the boys. @SuryaKantaBoseChowdhury – Rickross Dec 7 '17 at 16:35
  • So they can marry at any age? – Surya Kanta Bose Chowdhury Dec 7 '17 at 16:41
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    But all Smritis say more or less the same things. So people must have spent whole days interpolating to accomplish such a feat.. :D @SuryaKantaBoseChowdhury – Rickross Dec 7 '17 at 16:57
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    I think kushmanda homam is done by father nowadays to get rid of the sins occurred due to giving away daughter after her puberty. – user9554 Mar 3 '18 at 16:50
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it is sinful for a girl to marry after puberty

First of all, in accordance with ancient Vedic institutions, girls from respectable families do not "marry" by themselves. They are given through the institution of marriage (kanyaa-daanam) to a suitable bridegroom by elders of the family (specifically the father and mother).

Coming to the point, technically speaking, they (girls) need not perform prayashchitta or atonement. It is the father of the girl as well as the bridegroom that have to perform suitable prayashchittas. Each different kalpa differs in the amount of penance for atonement and that is something that too specific to be stated here.

In general, daanam (donation) of cows (Go-daanam) as atonement for giving one's daughter in marriage after she has reached puberty, is common throughout all schools of the Vedas.

It is however to be noted that this is a very ancient practice that is prevalent in none but very orthodox families only.

Coming to the question; it is not a heinous sin to be married after puberty.

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    You should give sources – user9554 Dec 5 '17 at 12:01
  • Parikshitha is right. Please provide relevant sources for the claims in your answer. – Surya Kanta Bose Chowdhury Dec 5 '17 at 12:30

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