Garo - Marriage and Family

Marriage. Descent is matrilineal, residence uxorilocal. The mother's brother's daughter type of cross-cousin Marriage is the most widely accepted and prevalent among the people. It is a rigid custom that a man must marry a woman from the opposite chatchi (moiety). The rule of chatchi exogamy stipulates that a man's mother's father will be in the opposite chatchi and a man's wife's potential husbands will be in his own chatchi. After marriage a man keeps up his relation with his machong (clan). His relation with reference to his wife's machong is designated as gachi. Marriage establishes a permanent relation between two machong, known as akim. After marriage, a male moves to the residence of his wife. In the case of a nokrom (husband of the heiress of property), marriage does not create a new household but rather adds a new lease on life to an old household. Even after the death or divorce of a spouse the akim relation continues. It is the responsibility of the deceased's machong to provide a replacement spouse to the surviving partner.

Domestic Unit. The household is the primary production and consumption unit. A Garo household comprises parents, unmarried sons and daughters, a married daughter (heiress), and her husband and their children. In principle a married granddaughter and her children should be included, but in reality grandparents rarely survive to see their grandchildren married. Some households may—for short periods only—include distant relatives or nonrelated persons for various reasons.

Inheritance. Property among the Garos is inherited in the female line. One of the daughters is selected by the parents to be the heiress. If the couple have no female child, a girl belonging to the machong of the wife (preferably the daughter of her sister, whether real or classificatory) is adopted to be an heiress. She is not considered to be the absolute owner of the property. Decision about the disposal of property is taken by her husband, who is considered to be the household authority ( nokni skotong ). After the death of the father-in-law responsibility transfers to the son-in-law. If a dead man is survived by a widow, she stays in the family of her daughter and is sometimes referred to as an additional wife ( jik ) of her daughter's husband.

Socialization. Children start helping their mother to look after the infants when their mother is busy with work. Today there are different educational institutions—namely, the mission schools and other Indian establishments—that act as major agents of education.

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