Hindu Widow Remarriage Act 1856: All You Need To Know

By: FPJ Web Desk | July 15, 2023

The Hindu Widows' Remarriage Act 1856, was passed on 16 July 1856. Here are the major changes that the social reform brought into the 19th century Indian society.

This Act legalised the remarriage of Hindu widows in all regions which came under the jurisdiction of the East India Company. The Governor-General of India at that time was Lord Canning. The act was enacted due to the tireless efforts of social reformer Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar.

As per the law: “No marriage contracted between Hindus shall be invalid, and the issue of no such marriage shall be illegitimate, by reason of the woman having been previously married or betrothed to another person who was dead at the time of such marriage, any custom and any interpretation of Hindu Law to the contrary notwithstanding.”

The law also held that widows who remarry were entitled to all the rights and inheritances that a woman who marries for the first time would have.

The widow forfeited any inheritance that she may have obtained from her deceased husband.

The act also provided legal safeguards to men who married widows. Widow remarriage was, however, commonplace among people of the lower castes.

This act was a watershed in the social reformation of Indian society during the nineteenth century.

The first widow remarriage that took place after the law was enforced took place on 7th December 1856 in north Calcutta. The groom was the son of Ishwar Chandra’s close friend.

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