Kol - Kinship, Marriage, and Family

Kin Groups and Descent. The Kols are divided into a number of subdivisions such as the Rautia, Rautel, Dassao, Dahait, Kathotia, Birtiya, and Thakuria. In Jabalpur the Kol mainly belong to the Rautia and Thakuria subdivisions, whereas in Nagpur they are mainly Rautia. These subdivisions are endogamous units ( baenk ) that regulate marriage. Griffiths (1946) listed about twenty-two kulhi (baenk); William Crooke (1896) gave a list of nine septs, but now only seven are known. The members of the baenk do not intermarry. There is a belief that one baenk is superior or inferior to another, and no intermarriage is thus possible between them. But in recent years a Rautel may marry a Kathotia and a Kathotia a Dassao. The members of Thakuria baenk who consider themselves superior to all others do not intermarry with members of other baenks.

Kinship Terminology. The kin terms used by the Kol of Jabalpur are similar to those used by the local non-Kols. The terms are of a bilateral type in which there are different terms for father, father's brother, and mother's brother. Generation differences are explicit (e.g., beta = son, pitaji — father, aja = grandfather). Kinship terms are mostly denotative. Specific terms are used for kin of the same generation, such as mother = dai, wife's mother = thakurain, husband's mother = didi, or again father's sister = fua, mother's sister = mosi. There are classificatory terms too. A sister, mother's brother's daughter, father's sister's daughter, and husband's sister are all referred to as baia. The terminological system resembles the Hawaiian type.

Marriage. Monogamy is the rule but polygyny also occurs. As there is an adverse sex ratio with the Kol females outnumbering males, the Kol keep concubines ( rakhelu ). A rakhelu may belong to any baenk. She is kept in a separate house if the wife is alive. Keeping a rakhelu is a status symbol, well publicized and recognized by throwing a feast for members of one's kin group ( biradari ). A widow cannot remarry but can be a rakhelu. The wife's younger sister can be kept as a rakhelu after the death of the wife, and after an elder brother's death his wife is often kept as a concubine. A wife's elder sister and younger brother's wife are avoided for such relationships. Girls marry between 14 and 18 years of age and the boys between 20 and 24 years. Marriage with cross cousins, parallel cousins, sisters and their daughters, or a wife's elder sister is strictly forbidden and persons contracting such Marriages have to pay a fine and/or throw a feast to gain the Community's approval. The Kols pay a bride-price ( chari ), which consists of 20 rupees, a calf or a goat, and such ornaments as a bangle ( kangan ), toe ornament ( lacha ), etc. In recent years chari has given place to dowry ( dahej ), which comprises 50 rupees in cash and utensils. Giving dahej is a status symbol; nowadays educated boys get cash, a bicycle, etc. With the poorer Kols, chari is still in vogue. Wearing the color vermilion and bangles are the symbols of marriage for women. The rakhelu also use these symbols. Marriage by elopement formerly was in vogue; this practice is now rare. Incompatibility, adultery, and barrenness are primary reasons for seeking a Divorce. In the case of a divorce, older children stay with the Father, but the babies may go with the mother. A divorced woman does not get any compensation nor can she claim any portion of the husband's property. The dahej or chari is never returned. Adoption ( godnama ) does not require any formal permission from the community nor is a feast to be given to seek approval of it. Only the village messenger ( kotwar ) has to be informed verbally and he in turn informs the leader ( sarpanch ). A child, male or female, taken on godnama gets a share of the inheritance (if there are other sons of the deceased) or else all of it (if the deceased has no son). The rakhelu and her children form an appendage of the family.

Domestic Unit. Residence is patrilocal in general. Nevertheless, there are instances when a man stays with his wife after marriage, to look after her inherited property.

Inheritance. Both movable and immovable property is Inherited by sons equally and no extra share is given to the eldest or the youngest son. After marriage, the daughters cannot claim any share of the deceased father's property; however, if the deceased left no son, then the daughters can claim his property. A childless widow owns her husband's property. The property of a dead bachelor goes to one of his siblings. A divorced woman cannot claim any share in property while staying at her natal house but can insist on maintenance for life.

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