The term 'vivaha' (marriage) means 'vishesena vahati iti vivaha:'
Vivaha is that which gives special rights.
What are those special rights?
They are about the rights which the man can do only as a married one,
particularly all those yajnas which he can not do
without his patni or wife.
Who is this patni?
"patyAm vrathE thishtathi iti patni"
(patni is one who has avowed to stand by Pati) –
is one who stands by her pati in all his actions.
This is the basic taathparyam.
This unity of the two by marriage is due to the following reason
It is about the completion of a circuit by union of
purusha and sthree.
Purusha is 'puryam shete iti: purusha:' -
the one who is resting in the house.
The root words are 'puh' or 'pura' which means city, abode, dwelling etc.
The body is the city (BG 5-13) with 9 openings.
Since he resides in this city of 9 doors, he is called Purusha.
The female gender for purusha is sthree
(sa-kara(s), tha-kara(th) and ra-kara(ree) combination
indicating sattvic (sa-kara(s), tamasic
(tha-kara(th) and rajasic (ra-kara(ree) nature.
Purusha as the in-dweller and sthree as the 3 gunas,
make complete the purusha –prakriti combination.
This is the basic idea behind the coming together of
Man and woman in marriage.
The man and the woman in matrimony discharge the
grahasthashrama duties as one unit,
with man as the doer and the
woman as the thinker.
The Bheeshma-yudhishtira samvaadham in Mahabharatha
focuses on this aspect
and tells what a tough task the wife holds in guiding the family
in virtuous path and thereby bringing good fortune to the family and
how she is doing the pivotal role in helping her husband
discharge his duties.
(The dharma sloka on dharma patni says,
snEhE cha mata,
shad dharmayuktha kula dharma patni)
This is corroborated in science too that all people
are half brained!!
A woman is right-brained while the man is left- brained.
The woman uses mostly and for most part of the time
the right brain and the men, their left.
The right hemisphere of the brain stands for
creativity, instincts, radical thoughts, originality etc.
The left brain controls only actions.
It is note-worthy that both Saivite and Vaishnavite siddhanthams
have given importance to the consort of the Lord
in accordance with this reality.
Uma is in the left
of Ardhanaareeshwara and
Sri is at the heart of Vishnu.
She is the one who
acts as the mind and thought force of the Lord Himself.
(A valid reason for how Sri became Purushakara bhoothai.)
It is due to this reason only, the vedas have clearly stipulated
seating positions for the patni, near her pati
differently on different occasions,
in accordance with the nature of the occasion.
For instance, at the time of enthronement in the chariot
(Vehicles in modern era),
on the bed of the couple,
in ceremonial baths and
the wife should occupy a place
at the left side of her husband.
In rituals like Kanyadaan (giving of daughter as wife),
installation of idols,
religious rites worship etc,
the wife must occupy a place to the right side of her husband.
Since the latter is about duties to be performed,
the patni is seated to his right as right denotes auspiciousness
and in her being the controller
of thoughts, instincts and insights.
At other times her position
reveals her influence in matters concerning both of them.
It is in this context, the girl's role in being the cause of
prosperity, auspiciousness comes into fore.
Pati is the master of the house.
Panini defines in his sutra that patni is one
'patyurno vajna samyoga',
who rules over for the sake of prosperity.
The very first manthra of the marriage function says,
'murdhanam patyuraroha', meaning,
"Oh girl, get up on the head of your husband."
If only our boys know the meaning of
many of the manthras they say during their vivaha,
I doubt whether they
would be ready to tell them.
The vivaha gives dominance to the patni
to rule over the household,
and the pati for the sake of good of the family.
If we analyse the other term for patni, namely, BharyaL ,
the meaning is somewhat similar.
BharyaL is the Sanskrit term for wife which
means 'bharayeti iti bharya'.
Bahryanie means 'breath'
She is BharyaL
she is the breath maintaining the whole.
We can go on citing examples on how the girl is the nodal point in
the man's life,
but not in the meaning that she literally brings
wealth, riches etc.
The reason for stipulating the dos and donts in gruhya sutras
in selecting the bride is to do with this aspect
and it is unfortunate that such `selection'
procedure has come to be regarded as gaining an upper hand
for the boy's family and for ulterior mundane benefits,
while simultaneously lowering the dignity of the women folk as such,
making her look like
an asset that must bring fortunes to the family.
In Sita's vivaha,
Janaka gave her to Rama to be his saha dharma chariNi,
that she will endure all that is going to happen to Rama.
The Sanskrit word `saha' means "to endure"
and Sita lived up to this till the end
and endured abandonment for the sake of this saha-dharma,
that both Rama and Sita had to uphold.
The vivaha brings together the man and the woman
to shoulder responsibly together.
Thus the arrival of the girl in marriage into a
family is not for bringing in anything.
If the family thinks that
way, that is the beginning of deterioration of vivaha dharma.
As such this trend will be seen as a latter development,
not of vedic times.
(This trend firmly took its place only after the advent of English
education, which is by itself an exhaustive topic.)