Gurung - Marriage and Family

Marriage. Marriage and childbearing are important to the assumption of full adult status for Gurungs. Marriages are arranged when daughters are in their mid-to late teens and sons in their late teens to twenties. In previous generations the age at marriage for girls was earlier, from about 9 to 13. Among Gurungs, cross-cousin marriage is preferred. The category of cross cousin is broad, including a large number of classificatory relatives. Residence is patrilocal, with a preference for village exogamy. Divorce can be initiated by either the man or the woman. Bride-wealth in the form of gold jewelry is given to the bride at marriage. If the husband initiates a divorce without due complaint, such as adultery, the wife has the right to keep the bride-wealth. However, if the wife causes or initiates the divorce she is required to return the bride-wealth to her husband.

Domestic Unit. Among Gurungs, the domestic unit changes over time. A household will begin as a nuclear family, and, as sons reach adulthood and marry, their brides come into the parental home and remain there while their first one or two children are small. The domestic unit is then an extended family for a period of five to ten years. As the son's children grow, he will build a separate residence, usually next to that of his parents.

Inheritance. Resources are distributed equally among sons in Gurung society. If there is no son, a daughter can inherit, and the son-in-law will come to reside in the household of his parents-in-law. The patrimony may be divided prior to the death of the father. In that case, the father can reserve a small portion. Although it runs contrary to Gurung custom, Nepalese law specifies that unmarried adult daughters should inherit a share of family property.

Socialization. Children are taught to be obedient and respectful of elders. They learn by imitation and the active encouragement of the older children, who often care for smaller ones. Corporal punishment is occasionally used, and unruly children may be isolated briefly. More often children are coaxed toward good behavior and instructed through stories about possible social and supernatural consequences of bad behavior.

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