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Where specific alliances were socially preferred, often an informal right of first refusal was presumed to exist.
For instance, marriages between cousins is permissible in Islam (though not in most Hindu communities), and the girl's mother's sister (or khala) was considered to have the first right (pehla haq) to "claim" the girl as for her son (the khalazad bhai).
The initiation can occur when a parent or a relative (such as an aunt or an elder sister or sister-in-law) initiates a conversation on the topic or the son/daughter approaches the parent/relative and expresses the desire to be married.
If the son/daughter has an identified love interest, the sponsor often takes it upon themselves to try to orchestrate a match with that individual.
The marriage process usually begin with a realization in the family that a child is old enough to marry.
For a girl, it is during her graduation or early twenties; for a boy, it is after he is 'settled', with a decent job and consistent earnings.
Under the system they advocated (sometimes called Manuvad), women were stripped of their traditional independence and placed permanently in male custodianship: first of their fathers in childhood, then of their husbands through married life, and finally of their sons in old age.
Early marriage, in which girls were married before they reached puberty also became prevalent, though not universal, over time.
Arranged marriages are believed to have initially risen to prominence in the Indian subcontinent when the historical Vedic religion gradually gave way to classical Hinduism (the ca.
500 BCE period), substantially displacing other alternatives that were once more prominent.
In the urban culture of modern India, the differentiation between arranged and love marriages is increasingly seen as a "false dichotomy" with the emergence of phenomena such as "self-arranged marriages" and free-choice on the part of the prospective spouses.
In a swayamvara, the girl's parents broadcast the intent of the girl to marry and invited all interested men to be present in a wedding hall on a specific date and time.
The girl, who was also often given some prior knowledge about the men or was aware of their general reputation, would circulate the hall and indicate her choice by garlanding the man she wanted to marry.