Everything you need to know about marriage in Bangladesh
Marriages in Bangladesh are big on traditional customs and rites. Both civil and religious marriages are recognized and protected under the laws of the country. Islam is the most popular religion in Bangladesh, as most of the citizens (over 90%) of the country are Muslims. Therefore, most marriages are held according to Muslim customs and traditions. The majority of Bengali marriages are arranged between families based on the traditions and religion they practice. This is mostly practiced by Muslims and Hindus.
Civil marriages in Bangladesh are held in the court and authorized registrar’s office, often in the same district where the marriage ceremony is to be held.
In Bangladesh, polygamy is recognized under the law. However, there are some limitations imposed by the law. A Muslim man may only be married to one single woman at a time. This applies to Bangladeshi nationals and foreigners. But a Hindu man can take as many wives as he wants. This is under the provision that he treats them fairly and equally. There are some ancient traditions that are still prevalent in several places across the country.
Arranged marriages are quite rampant in the country, and it was only until recently that the rate of child marriages started reducing. In the country, social rank and status are important factors that are taken into consideration when choosing a spouse. Some forms of marriage, such as those between close relatives like cousins, are allowed. Women are expected to marry at the top of society, not at the bottom. As a result, it is common for a Bengali woman to seek a husband with a higher social status in society. Let’s go straight to the major things involved with marriages in Bangladesh.
This is a popular type of marriage in Bangladesh. A civil marriage is performed by a state-authorized registrar, often held in court or in the registrar's office. Court marriages serve only as an affidavit of marriage between the couple planning to marry. It does not provide the same rights and benefits as a standard civil marriage that was performed by a registrar. Civil marriages in Bangladesh are open to both nationals and foreigners in the country. For a foreigner to get married, they must also be permitted to do so by their home country. There are certain conditions that must be met by couples conducting a civil marriage. These are stated below:
- Both parties getting married must offer their free-will consent before a marriage takes place. One or more partners must not be forced to enter a relationship or marriage by threats, fraud, coercion, etc. Any marriage performed without the free consent of either or both parties involved is void under the law.
- For a civil marriage to be held, there must be an offer and acceptance from the parties involved. This implies that one of the couples must make an offer (to get married), and it must be accepted by the other partner.
- The spouses must provide witnesses during the marriage registration. Sharia Law requires two male witnesses or a male notary and two female witnesses of legal age to be present.
- The two partners must be of legal age before getting married. In the country, the legal age for marriage is 18 years. If a marriage between underage partners is held, it is rendered invalid under the law.
The marriage registration form, Kabin nama, must be duly signed, filled out, and approved by the government before the marriage is registered and concluded. The kabin nama is held to a high level of importance in Bangladesh because any marriage that is held without this document is not recognized or protected by law. Both direct civil marriages and traditional or religious marriages must make sure the kabin nama paperwork is included in the procedure so as to make the union a legitimate one.
This is the most popular type of marriage ceremony held in Bangladesh. Over 90% of Bangladeshis are Muslims, and their marriages are held as lawful agreements under the provisions of Islamic law. The majority of marriages in the country adhere to Sharia law. This type of marriage is presided over by an authorized officiant, an imam, and takes place in the mosque.
For this marriage to be legally binding, it must be performed in a mosque that has been authorized by the government. Most couples that perform religious marriages also carry out additional ceremonial rites that are done in a venue other than the mosque. This venue is decided upon by the couple, and it usually involves the sharing of gifts and a lot of eating and drinking by the wedding party as well as various guests. There are certain conditions that must be met for a Muslim marriage to be considered valid under the law. These are stated below:
Both partners must be adults and Muslims in their right state of mind. This implies that the couples must be at least 18 years old, and they must be mentally fit to take on the responsibilities of marriage.
Both spouses must provide a minimum of two spouses. In this case, a male equals two females, so it’s either two males or a male and two females.
The two parties just provide their free and voluntary consent to get married.
The marriage must be registered accordingly.
The two parties' parents or guardians must reach an agreement on the Dower money, known as the Denmaher.
The marriage must be registered by both parties at the registrar’s office or Qazi, and a receipt for the marriage certificate must be obtained. This certificate is regarded as the Nikah Nama. If the marriage is solemnized by someone other than the Nikah registrar, it must be reported by the groom to the appropriate Nikah register within 30 days of the solemnization date. If this is violated or unnecessarily extended, it can result in a punishment of up to 2 years in jail and a steep fine.
In Bangladesh, the marriage between two people of different faiths is also recognized. Couples that fall into this category often opt for a civil marriage and a second, traditional marriage where ceremonial rites based on the beliefs and communities of both partners will be held. Before this type of marriage is held, there are some things that are required from both partners, and these are stated below:
The minimum age of the man must be at least 18 years, and the woman’s age must be at least 14 years, based on the Gregorian calendar. This is to represent that both parties must be of legal age before a marriage can take place.
A single-status certificate may be provided. Essentially, it is important for neither of the partners to still be in a relationship or marriage with another person other than their current spouse.
The parties must not be related to each other either by direct link or affinity. A person cannot get married to a close relative of their family link or affinity. A person cannot get married to a close relative of their family. Any marriage held in violation of this law is illegal.
For spouses who are younger than 21 years old, parental or guardian consent must be provided before they are allowed to marry.
In interfaith marriages, it is required that a notice of marriage be submitted to the registrar in the district where the marriage will be held. Either of the couples must have been living in that district for at least 14 days.
Arranged marriages are still quite popular in Bangladesh. Here, the parents of a man or woman who is mature and ready to get married typically select potential brides or grooms for their children. This is still widely practiced, especially in rural areas such as villages. Men from middle-class families are often able to negotiate their marriage to have a say in who they can and cannot get married to. In Bangladesh, only a woman from the top elite class of society is allowed to have a say in her own marriage arrangements. The norm is also for a woman to marry a man of a higher social and financial status.
According to the tradition, the father typically decides when his male or female child is ready to get married. In the groom's case, the father or family gathers up to six potential brides that the groom is able to choose from. Beforehand, he will be provided with enough data and information regarding the brides so as to enable him to make an informed decision. It is a popular belief that parents know what is best for their children and are in the perfect position to choose a spouse that can match the traits and spirit of their children and complement them in their holy matrimony.
There are conditions that may make a marriage invalid in Bangladesh. This is usually due to a law being violated by one or both of the partners. Some of the conditions that can result in a marriage being rendered void, invalid, or nullified are stated below.
- A marriage held by one or both of the partners while they are still in a previous marriage is invalid. For a partner to enter a new marriage, their previous marriage must be lawfully terminated with a government-issued certificate of proof.
- A marriage is rendered invalid if one of the partners is mentally unstable and unable to carry out their duties as a spouse.
- If the marriage is between two partners who are closely related either by blood (such as an immediate family member or a close relative), this type of marriage is prohibited, and in cases where it happens, it is rendered void.
- A marriage is invalid if a partner is impotent at the time of the marriage and is not able to procreate or perform their required spousal obligations.
Marriage traditions in Bangladesh
This is a popular pre-wedding ceremonial rite where the woman is beautified with turmeric (holud). This event is usually organized by the friends of the bride and is mostly attended by family and friends. Here, people take turns choosing who will run turmeric on the faces of the bride and groom. There is usually a lot of singing, dancing, and drinking during this stage.
The Biye is the actual wedding ceremony. Here, the bride and her family are required to arrive at the wedding ceremony venue first. They then barricade the entrances so as to request money from the groom and his family before they are allowed to enter. Most times, the two families will have to barter over the price that can be offered and accepted. This part of the wedding is usually attended by hundreds of guests.
Bride rice is another name for Bou Bhat. It is the formal wedding reception, usually organized by the groom's family. It is often held in a separate venue entirely and is attended by a lot more people. The purpose of this ceremonial rite is to happily celebrate the new era of the newly married couples and offer them various gifts and wishes in their holy matrimony. It often involves a lot of dancing and feasting.
Marriage Laws and Rights, Costs and Duties
Laws and Rights
In Bangladesh, a man must be at least 18 years old and a woman must be 14 years old according to the Gregorian calendar before they can officially get married. If a person who is younger than the age of 21 plans to get married, they must first obtain consent from their parent or guardian. If the parties are related to each other by a degree of consanguinity or affinity, they are not permitted to get married.
When a couple intends to solemnize a marriage, either of them must submit a written notice of marriage to the registrar’s office in the district where the couple plans for the marriage to be solemnized. Polygamy is legal in the country, and a man is allowed to marry several wives provided that he treats them equally and fairly. A woman has the right to give consent before a marriage is allowed to take place; however, the country does not have laws that ban forced marriages. The woman has the right to be treated fairly and equally. This implies that she is entitled to properties and assets just like her husband is. A woman also has the right to freely choose who she wants to get married to.
The average cost of civil marriage registration in Bangladesh is less than 6,000 Taka (BDT). There are fixed fees that have been set by the government along with the dower money. The prices do not generally vary between various registrars' offices.
A traditional marriage ceremony in Bangladesh can cost between Tk. 6 lakh and Tk. 15 lakh. This price does not include engagement gifts, gifts, or the dowry. Once all these come into play with the expenses of transportation, catering, photography, and the wedding reception, the price can go up to as much as Tk. 35 lakh.
The husband is responsible for providing for his family and ensuring that they have access to basic necessities such as a place to live, food, and clothing. The wife has the obligation of caring for her husband and the entire household by keeping things in order and ensuring everything is running smoothly. The children of the marriage must be taken care of by both parents and given a good education, even in the case of separation.
Both the husband and wife have a collective obligation to provide for the financial needs of the family. The person who earns more income may decide to take on more responsibility, and this can be mutually decided by the spouses. If a spouse is not working, the other spouse is obligated to provide them with a regular allowance for their maintenance.
Bangladesh has unique marriage laws and traditions, and due to the fact that most marriages held in the country are by Muslims, the most common type of marriage is an Islamic one. For a marriage to be legally recognized in Bangladesh, whether it was performed in the registrar's office or in the place of worship, the marriage must be duly registered. The marriage certificate must be filled out by both parties before the couple can be recognized as husband and wife based on the country’s laws.
As it is in many countries, Bangladesh does not allow marriage between two parties that are related in any way, either by a direct link such as a sibling or by an extended link such as a relative. If a marriage is held by two related people or minors, it is a violation of the country’s laws and void. We hope this article has provided you with everything you need to know about marriages in Bangladesh.
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