Progress on Recognition of Hindu Marriages

The SA Hindu Maha Sabha (SAHMS) has had several engagements with government in recent years with regard to the recognition of Hindu marriages. As part of this interaction the Department of Home Affairs representatives met with the SAHMS on 25 November 2020 to discuss the status of Hindu religious marriages on terms of the Law.

It was clear that Hindu religious marriages are not recognised in terms of the Act. The Department of Home Affairs was gathering information on the issue of the possible recognition of religious marriages and revising the relevant laws. The intention was to develop “a single Marriage Act” that “will enable South Africans of different religious, cultural persuasions and gender backgrounds to conclude legal marriages that will be in line with the key provisions of the Constitution of our country”.

More specifically, as emphasised by Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi, the Constitution “enjoins the State to not unfairly discriminate directly or indirectly against anyone on one or more grounds, including race, gender, sex, pregnancy, marital status, ethnic or social origin, colour, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, conscience, belief, culture, language and birth”.

The discussion also dealt with the issue of same sex marriages. The SAHMS provided the DOHA officials with a paper prepared by Pundit Lokesh Maharajh which covered the issue of same sex marriages.

The training of Marriage officers and subsequent examinations to qualify as Marriage officers was also discussed.

The Department of Home Affairs will also consult the SAHMS when foreign Hindu priests and spiritual leaders apply for visas to visit South Africa.

Ashwin Trikamjee