Swayamvar is the freedom of a bride to choose her husband in an open assembly. This was an important marriage concept practiced in Hinduism. ‘Swayam’ means oneself and ‘vara’ in this context means to select a groom. Swayamvara gives a hint into the position of women in ancient Hindu civilization.
A king would proclaim his daughter’s Swayamvara and invite many princes, nobles, warriors and learned men. On the day of Swayamvar, all the contenders will be present in the palace before the king.
The princess would go before each of them. She would observe the suitor carefully. Her maid would brief her about the background of the suitor his family, achievements, powers and other aspects of his personality.
After having studied the suitors, she would declare her choice by garlanding that person. Her choice is honored by all present.
In another type of Swayamvar, the suitors present will have to prove their worth by displaying their strength or martial skills or knowledge. The suitor who successfully fulfills the conditions would win the hand of the princess.
In another type of Swayamvara, a girl can choose her own groom, if parents or other elders in the family are unable to find a groom even three years after she attains puberty. The marriage is then conducted by the family members.