Hindu law: Marriage
The phrase ‘for a long time’, rather than the much tighter earlier definition under Anglo-Hindu law, which demanded proof of custom followed ‘since time immemorial’, gives the game away. The reformed Hindu law of 1955 silently supported strong presumptions of the legal validity of all customary Hindu marriages, perhaps not so much to respect ‘religious’ tradition but reflecting socio-legal realism. Widespread scholarly, journalistic and public assumptions that fundamental legal changes were brought about in Hindu law under British colonial rule appear thus, on closer scrutiny, rather underresearched. Several fieldwork-based studies on contemporary legal developments in India suggest that much of Hindu law in India remains based on internal self-regulation and continues to rely heavily on customary laws, sometimes intertwined with state laws, especially regarding marriage and divorce. Overall, the selective reforms of Hindu law in the 1950s remained necessarily incomplete, respecting the perceived need to protect the basic nature of Hindu marriage.