Khasi - Marriage and Family



Marriage. The Khasi are, for the most part, monogamous. Their social organization does not favor other forms of Marriage; therefore, deviation from this norm is quite rare. Marriage is a purely civil contract. The ceremony consists of a betrothal, the pouring of a libation to the clan's first maternal ancestor, the taking of food from the same plate, and the taking of the bride to the house of the groom's mother where a ring is placed on the bride's finger by her mother-in-law. Males are between the ages of 18 and 35 when they marry, while women's ages range from 13 to 18. Although parentally arranged marriages do occur, this does not appear to be the preferred form. Young men and women are permitted considerable freedom in the choice of mates and in premarital Sexual relations. Potential marriage partners are likely to have been acquainted before betrothal. Once a man has selected his desired spouse, he reports his choice to his parents. They then secure the services of a male relative (or other male unrelated to the family) to make the arrangements with the female's family (provided that the man's parent's agree with his choice). The parents of the woman ascertain her wishes and if she agrees to the arrangement her parents check to make Certain that the man to be wed is not a member of their clan (since Khasi clans are exogamous, marital partners may not be from the same clan). If this is satisfactory, then omens are taken. If the omens are favorable, then a wedding date is set, but if the omens are negative, the wedding plans are abandoned. Divorce is frequent (with causes ranging from incompatibility to lack of offspring) and easily obtainable. This ceremony consists of the husband handing the wife 5 cowries or paisa which the wife then hands back to her husband along with 5 of her own. The husband then throws these away or gives them to a village elder who throws them away. According to Gurdon, postmarital residence is matrilocal, with the husband and wife leaving the wife's mother's residence after the birth of one or two children. C. Nakane makes a further distinction between two types of marriages, the first being marriage to an heiress, the second marriage to a nonheiress. The type of marriage is, for Nakane, the determining factor in marital residence. This practice is the result of rules and regulations governing inheritance and property ownership. These rules are themselves related to the structure of the Khasi iing. In short, postmarital residence when an heiress is involved must be uxorilocal, while postmarital residence when a nonheiress is involved is neolocal. Khasi men prefer to marry a nonheiress because it will allow them to form independent family units somewhat immune to pressures from the wife's kin. A Khasi man returns to his iing upon the death of his spouse (if she is an heiress). If she is not an heiress, he may remain with his children if they are not too young and if he plans to marry his wife's younger sister. Marriage to a deceased wife's elder sister is prohibited. This is the only form of the sororate found among the Khasi. The levirate does not obtain in Khasi society. It has been suggested that the increasing monetization of the Khasi economy and availability of jobs for men beyond village confines may have altered postmarital residence patterns.

Domestic Unit. Around the turn of the century, the basic Khasi domestic unit was a single household made up of a grandmother, her daughters, and her daughters' children (the grandmother being the head of the household during her lifetime). In mid-century, Nakane distinguished between four types of Khasi households: (1) a household comprised of wife, husband, their children, and wife's unmarried sisters and brothers; (2) a household composed of nearly all the iing members (but not including their spouses) or a larger Household (including wives and husbands) that contains all descendants of three or more generations from one woman (in which case the iing corresponds to the kpoh); (3) an intermediate type of household, between types 1 and 2, that is popular among newly married couples before the birth of children, in which a husband is supposed to live in the wife's house but often returns to his sister's house for meals and to sleep, and in which the husband is responsible for working his wife's fields and may also work those of his mother and sister; and (4) one nuclear family unit (usually when the man marries a nonheiress). According to Nakane, most Khasi households are of types 1,3, and 4. All three types are usually found in one Village. Type 2 was prominent at one time among the Jaintias.


Inheritance. With regard to real property, inheritance goes to the youngest daughter of the deceased mother and upon the youngest daughter's death in turn to her youngest daughter. Other daughters are entitled to a smaller share of the inheritance of their mother, but the largest share goes to the youngest daughter. When the mother has no daughters, the inheritance goes to her sister's youngest daughter. If the sister has no daughters, then the mother's sisters and their female kin receive the inheritance. Men are prohibited from Inheriting real property. All property acquired by a man before marriage belongs to his mother. Property acquired by him after marriage belongs to his wife and children. Of these Children, the youngest daughter will receive the largest share of the inheritance upon the death of the man's wife. If the man has no daughters, then his sons receive his property upon the death of their mother. Christian conversion has had and may continue to have a deleterious effect on the Khasi system of inheritance. Khasi heiresses who converted to Christianity lost their right to inherit at one time in Khasi social history. With the gradual acceptance of Christianity, these rights were restored. However, there is a tendency for heiresses who convert to Christianity to discontinue their sacerdotal functions within the family. It has been suggested that this may threaten the institution of ultimogeniture. It has also been suggested that the availability of nonland-based employment for males may undermine the economic basis of matrilineal inheritance.

Socialization. Naming occurs one day after birth. Family activities center on the performance of religious rites, management of family property, and the maintenance and protection of kin relations. Men, women, and children participate fully in these and other labor-related activities. Women, However, are the chief agents of socialization.


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Shakambari
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Nov 9, 2018 @ 1:13 pm
Can the marriage rituals and customs among the khasis be described in detail? Also, what to refer for more information about their occupation and personal life ?

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