Sora - Kinship, Marriage, and Family



Kinship Groups, Descent, Terminology. The basic unit of social organization is the birinda. This is an exogamous patrilineage in which the core of men stay put while women marry out. Parallel cousins within the lineage (father's brother's children) are called "sister" and "brother." Other parallel cousins and all cross cousins are called maronsel (female) and marongger (male). They can also be referred to as "sister" and "brother," implying the impossibility of marriage down to the third generation, after which they again become free to marry. However, there is much flexibility in the interpretation of this. In the Orissa hills, for example, a man's mother's brother is mamang while his wife's father is kiniar. The terminology is thus of a North Indian type, resembling Oriya and Bengali in its patterning. In the Telugu plains, by contrast, it follows a South Indian pattern, in which mama means both "mother's brother" and "father-in-law" (male speaking). But even in the Orissa hills, people often marry their cross cousins.

Marriage. In the hills there are two main ways of marrying. Among the wealthier families, who own paddy land, marriage ( sidrung ) may be arranged and a bride-price paid in buffalo or labor. But most marriages are by free choice ( dari ) with no payment. A woman and a man simply set up house together, though this often provokes difficulties with their families. Girls have considerable freedom to initiate relationships. Marriages are unstable in the early years and divorce is Common. Marriage becomes more stable as children are born and grow up. Some wealthier men have more than one wife and the second wife is often the younger sister of the first ( aliboj). If a woman's husband dies, she may marry his younger brother ( erisij). There is no polyandry.

Domestic Unit. The basic household contains a married couple and their children. Many houses also contain unmarried siblings, aged parents, and sometimes other people's Children who have decided to live there temporarily. Where a man has several wives they live together unless they quarrel, in which case he builds them separate houses and divides his time between them. Neighbors are usually very closely related and make quite free with each other's houses. During the season when they live in "baby houses" in the jungle, families are more isolated and live more intimately.

Inheritance. As each son marries he builds his own house. The youngest son stays behind with the parents and inherits the house. A man's irrigated fields, or the right to return to a shifting cultivation plot, are shared equally among his sons. As an ancestor spirit, he will eventually reside in one of these sites. Where there are no sons, they may be inherited by cousins in the closest branch of the lineage. Alternatively, they may be claimed by the lineage of his wife's brother if it is decided that the dead person has gone to reside in one of their plots. Personal possessions are likewise shared out equally. A woman may also have her own fields, provided by her own brothers. This woman's wealth ( keruru ) never passes under her husband's control and is usually inherited by her daughters. Inheritance is symbolized by planting a memorial stone, sacrificing a buffalo, and taking on the dead person's debts.


Socialization. A woman's child is closely associated with her body and only gradually socialized into her husband's lineage. One of the baby's first illnesses is diagnosed as caused by a dead patrilineal ancestor who wishes to give the child his or her name. If the child survives to the age of weaning, about age 3, it receives this ancestor's name in an Elaborate rite. Children are carried, played with, and danced. They are rarely if ever struck. Very young children already have responsibility for infants. There are no rites associated with puberty or menstruation, though at that time a girl will start to grow her hair long.


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