T'in - Marriage and Family

Marriage. Premarital sex is a serious insult to the village guardian spirit and calls for an expensive sacrifice, usually a calf. It is rare. Courtship is carried out in groups, and the boy indicates his interest in a girl to his parents, who in turn contact the girl's parents. Women marry in their mid-teens, men in their late teens. The ideal is village endogamy (resulting in first-cousin marriages) and monogamy, and these are usually practiced. The marriage ceremony, which may take place after a man and a woman have begun living together, involves a feast for the groom with the men of the village at which the khawcam (village priest) invokes the blessing of the village spirit and notifies the groom's ancestor spirits that the groom will be leaving his house. Another feast is held at the bride's house to introduce the groom to the bride's ancestor spirits. Divorce is common, especially during the period of bride-service, which in some communities is a trial marriage. Requests are made to the headman who with the elder men of the village, attempts a reconciliation. If this is not possible, they discuss with the families of husband and wife the division of property and children.

Domestic Unit. The basic social unit is the matrifocal nuclear or extended family. After marriage, there is matrilocal residence with bride-service (which averages one or two years). An older married daughter and her husband and children will move out and build a house nearby. The youngest daughter will remain in her parents' house, take care of her old parents, and eventually inherit the house. Patrilocal resi' dence occurs only when a family has no daughters.

Socialization. Parents, siblings, grandparents, and other relatives share child-care duties. As soon as they are able, boys take part in male activities and girls begin helping their female relatives. Many villages in Thailand now have government schools.

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