Widow Remarriage Act, 1856
Hindu society had long prohibited widows from remarrying, even those who were children or adolescents, and all of them were required to lead lives of austerity and abnegation to preserve what it believed to be family honour and family property.
The Hindu Widows' Remarriage Act of 1856 established legal protections against losing some types of inheritance for Hindu widows who chose to remarry. However, the Act required the widow to forego any inheritance she was entitled to from her late husband. The measure specifically helped child widows whose spouses had passed away before the marriage had been consummated.
- The Hindu Widow Remarriage Act is also known as Act XV, 1856. Under this Act, the Hindu widow remarriage was made legal in the jurisdictions of East India Company.
- Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar played a prominent role in legalizing it by citing Hindu scriptures. The Act was finally passed by Lord Canning on 26th July 1856.
- Before the Hindu Widow Remarriage Act was enacted, widows, especially upper-caste Hindu widows, led their lives in extreme adversities and austerity. For example, they were boycotted from festivals, had to wear white sarees shave off their hair, etc.
- It is known as the greatest social reform after the abolition of Sati in 1829 by Lord William Bentick.
When was the Hindu Widow Remarriage Act Passed?
The Widow Remarriage Act was enacted on 26th July 1856 by Lord Canning. It is also known as the Hindu Widow Remarriage Act of 1856, supported by Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar. The Widow Remarriage Act of 1856 is considered an important social reform for women's empowerment since the abolition of Sati in 1829. The widow remarriage act was passed shortly before the revolt of 1857 in India.