Sapinda Marriage | Cousin Marriage in Hinduism

Sapinda Marriage refers to the cousin marriages in Hinduism. The Hindu Marriage Act of 1955 does not allow Sapinda marriage. A marriage between a boy and a girl is not legally valid if they are “sapindas”. But it permits the Sapinda marriages where such marriage is customary.

Sapinda relationship extends to:

  • within five (5) generations in the line of ascent on the fathers side, and
  • within three (3) generations in the line of ascent on the mother’s side.

Exogamy is a rule of marriage according to which an individual selects his or her marriage partner outside his or her own group or community.

Among the Hindus marriage within the “pinda” group, that is, sapinda group, is prohibited. In simple words, pinda means common parentage.

According to Gauthama and Brihaspathi, offspring from five maternal generations and seven paternal generations are “sapinda” and they cannot intermarry. This opinion, however, is not universally accepted.

Though certain exceptions are there in South India, in North India, generally, Sapinda marriages do not take place.

But Sapinda exogamy, which is, marrying outside one’s pinda, is commonly found. Other than Brihaspathi and Gauthama, several others have narrowed the circle to permit the marriage of cross-cousins; i.e., descendants from the same pair of grandparents may marry, so long as they are not parallel cousins.

It may be noted that though the prevailing Hindu marriage laws prohibits Sapinda marriage, the marriage between a boy and girl belonging to same “gotra” is not prohibited by law. However, the same gotra marriage is not customarily allowed in Hinduism.