Garo - Sociopolitical Organization

Social Organization. In Garo society the most important social group is the machong (clan). A machong is an exogamous matrilineal descent group wherein a Garo is automatically assigned by birth to the unilineal group of his mother. A chatchi (moiety) is divided into many machong. Each married couple chooses one daughter—or, if they have none, they adopt a close relative of the mother—to be heiress ( nokna dongipika mechik ) of the family. Her husband traditionally is selected from the lineage group of the father and is accepted as the nokrom of the house. He resides with his wife in her parents' house. He has to take on the responsibility of looking after his parents-in-law during their old age, and his wife inherits the property.

Political Organization. Traditionally, the Garos were not a politically organized society, and even today there exists no clear-cut political structure. Chieftainship involves religious functions only.

Social Control. The kinship system, the kinship bond, and the related value system act as an effective means of social control. Formerly the bachelors' dormitories were important agents of social control.

Conflict. Among the Garos most disputes arise over the issues of property, inheritance, and domestic quarrels within the family. Such problems are to a large extent settled by the mahari (lineage) of the offended and the offender. A new situation develops when someone's cattle cause damage to another's crops. In such a situation the nokma (village headman) acts as an intermediary only. If he fails to settle the dispute, the matter can go before the civil court of the district Council.

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