Love’s Rite pp 113-136 | Cite as

A Second Self: Traditions of Romantic Friendship

  • Ruth Vanita


In 2001, a Hindu priest in the Srivaishnava lineage conducted a friendship ceremony for two Hindu women in Sydney, Australia. A gay man wrote to ask him if a same-sex couple could have a gandharva marriage. The priest replied, “Marriage (vivaha) by definition is between male and female, the purpose being reproduction and the performance of one’s duties as householders. There is a commitment ceremony for friendship as described in the Ramayana between Rama and Sugriva—it is not the same as a ‘marriage’ but has some of the same ritual elements—holding hands, exchanging garlands and walking around the sacred fire—taking seven steps together etc., the purpose being to confirm and validate one’s commitment to the friendship-relationship. So the question of gandharva or any other form of ‘marriage’ cannot arise within the Hindu context between members of the same sex.”1


Male Friend Romantic Love Wedding Ceremony Heterosexual Marriage Chief Minister 
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Chapter 5 A Second Self: Traditions of Romantic Friendship

  1. 30.
    Pandit Durgaprasad and Kasinath Pandurang Parab, ed. The Kathasaritsagara of Somadevabhatta (Bombay: Nirnaya Sagara Press, 1852; 4th edn. 1930), 86. My translation.Google Scholar

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© Ruth Vanita 2005

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  • Ruth Vanita

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