May 28, 2024


In India, widow remarriage has attracted a great deal of social, cultural, and legal attention. In times gone by, widows in India experienced significant social exclusion and prejudices with widowhood generally being viewed as an awful destiny. However, efforts to strengthen the status of widows and support their right to remarry have been made over time through movements for social reform and legal initiatives.

what is widow remarriage?

  • Prior to the Hindu Widow’s Re-marriage Act of 1856, it was customary for Hindu women to live as virtual outsiders following the death of their husbands. Widows were supposed to live in isolation, shave their heads, give up their jewels, and perform penance on a regular basis.
  • The first scholar from India to successfully argue against these restrictions was Ishvarchandra Vidyasagar.
  • Vidyasagar was a fervent social reformer and Sanskrit scholar who was a strong advocate of widow marriage in colonial India. He urged his colleagues to reject a taboo that resulted in needless suffering for many women.

widow remarriage: Pros and Cons


  • A second opportunity to live a life of happiness.
  • Freedom
  • Relationships
  • Experience and Maturity


  • Detrimental to the first marriage’s offspring
  • Still forbidden
  • Fear of not being close enough
  • Issues with adjustment
  • Non-acceptance

hindu widows remarriage act 1856

  • It allowed Hindu widows to get married again. The majority of wealthy Hindu homes practiced this tendency.
  • Regardless of customs or interpretations of Hindu law to the contrary, no marriage between Hindus is illegal, and no child of such a marriage is illegitimate because the woman was previously married or engaged to a deceased person at the time of the marriage.
  • Additionally, the Act provided legal protection for men who married widows.
  • The widow was allowed to forfeit any inheritance that she might have gotten from her deceased spouse.
  • Every entitlement and bequest to every window they possessed in her first marriage.
  • After the Hindu widow remarriage act was passed on December 7, 1856, the first marriage took place in north Calcutta. The son of a close friend of Ishwar Chandra was the groom.

hindu widow remarriage act: Provisions

  • In India, remarriage for widows was made lawful by the Widows’ Remarriage Act 1856 (Act XV, 1856).
  • Adopted on July 16, 1856, it sought to subvert social mores that forbade widows from getting married again.
  • Before the Indian Rebellion of 1857, Lord Dalhousie wrote the legislation and Lord Canning gave his approval.
  • This important social reform came about when sati pratha was outlawed in 1829.
  • Legal protections were offered to widows who wanted to remarry.
  • Widows were spared some inheritances due to a crucial clause, but others had to be forfeited.
  • The act primarily helped child widows whose husbands passed away before their marriage could be consummated.
  • The Act sought to empower widows and alleviate societal issues by allowing widows to remarry.

Important Laws under widow remarriage act

Licensed Marriage

  • As to Section 1 of the Act, a marriage between two consenting Hindus is considered authentic, valid, and acceptable. Unless Hindu law or custom specifies otherwise, a woman’s prior marriage will not be void if she becomes a widow.

Widow’s Right to Property Terminates

  • Section 2 of the Act terminates a widow’s right to her deceased husband’s property. The law removes the widow’s right to inheritance and maintenance granted by the will or testamentary disposition of her second marriage for the sake of natural justice. In these situations, the Act designates the widow as deceased and gives the property to the surviving husband’s next of kin.

widow remarriage in india: Problems

Social Distress

  • Remarrying still causes hesitation, despite being accepted for generations. Widows are frequently seen as burdensome and helpless. The widow is concerned about the future of the children from the previous marriage and the second marriage. She is hence hesitant to be married again.

Problem with inheritance

  • Many Indian widows have their inheritance rights taken away from them. As the widow advances in her life and finds a new lover, the issue becomes more serious. She is duped and left on her own, in spite of numerous inheritance regulations. She does not receive any inheritance from the deceased husband’s assets, nor do the children.

Remarrying is Forbidden by Tradition

  • India is a country with many different traditions and customs. Prior to independence, widow remarriage was common among the lower caste but strictly forbidden by the upper caste. Currently, nevertheless, widow remarriage is legal, despite the fact that there are a number of conventions that prohibit it and are not covered by the law. In these countries, widows must contend with challenges and lead difficult lives.


The Hindu Widows Remarriage Act addressed a number of Hindu legal topics. It dealt with a Hindu widow’s property rights, inheritance, and maintenance. Undoubtedly, the Act marked a turning point in India’s history of social reforms.

But as time went on, several of the Act’s requirements were no longer necessary. Therefore, the Law Commission made a valid recommendation to repeal the Act. The Act’s restrictions, which excluded the widow from any rights to property she had obtained before her husband’s death, were undoubtedly antiquated. The Act was properly repealed because it did not conform to the social structures that were in place at the time.

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