Etymologically, the word dampati means “joint owners of a
household.” Today it is widely used to mean a married couple – husband and
wife. Here is a look at the concept of married couple in Hinduism.
In the concept of dampati in Hindu society are enshrined the
ideas of married life – elevated mutual faith, devotion, love and sacrifice.
The married stage in life succeeds brahmacharya (celibacy), and is followed by
vanaprastha (detached living) and sannyasa (renunciation).
The concept of “two joint owners of a household” in itself
implies exclusion of a third person in conjugal life and makes monogamy the
norm for both. The Grihya Sutras, texts dealing with family or domestic affairs and
ceremonies, advocate a status of equality for the woman in the household and
entitles her to participate on equal footing with her husband in samskaras
(religious ceremonies). She could perform these singly too in the event of the
absence of her husband.
A dampati had certain well defined duties to perform such as
yajna (sacrifice), adhyayana (study) and dana (charity). It was mandatory for a
dampati to perform five great sacrifices in daily life, pancha maha yajnas to
discharge their duties towards ancient sages in the form of study and teaching,
towards ancestors in the form of tarpana (oblations), towards living creatures
in the form of bali (food offerings), and towards fellow men by society and
entertaining atithis (guests).
The sanctity of a dampati in Hindu life is reinforced by the
customary yugal upasana, the worship of Shiva – Parvati, Sita Rama and Radha