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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.
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.
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).
Sometimes the father of the bride would arrange for a competition among the suitors, such as a feat of strength, to help in the selection process.
Another variant was the Gandharva marriage, which involved simple mutual consent between a man and a woman based on mutual attraction and no rituals or witnesses.
If no such person exists, the sponsor begins the process of identifying suitable candidates.
This is usually done via an intermediary matchmaker who has a social reputation for maintaining discretion and brokering successful weddings.
Where potential spouses for sons and daughters were once identified through family and social relationships, they are increasingly being solicited through advertising because many urban parents no longer have the social reach that was a given before the rise of nuclear families in India.