Maratha - Kinship, Marriage, and Family



Marathas practice kul or devak exogamy. Devaks are totemic groups that worship a common devak symbol. Kul is literally defined as a "family," and it is actually a lineage made up of extended families. Devak is an alternative name for this. Although they claim to have gotras, gotra exogamy is not essential. These are clan categories adopted from north India; but most of the Marathas do not know to which gotra they belong. Similarly, north Indian village exogamy is not practiced by Marathas. Cross-cousin marriage is allowed; so is marriage with a deceased wife's sister. Two brothers may marry two sisters. Polygyny is allowed and practiced, but polyandry is unknown. Boys are generally married between the ages of 12 and 25, and girls traditionally before they attain puberty. As in much of southern India, bride-wealth is paid to the bride's family, and gift exchange after the marriage between the two families is more reciprocal than in the north. Gifts are also required to fetch a wife back after visiting her natal home. The third, fifth, and seventh months of pregnancy are celebrated. A girl goes for her first confinement to her parents' home. Widow remarriage and divorce are strictly prohibited.

The laws of inheritance that prevailed in Maharashtra were governed by Mitakshara, a medieval commentary on Yajnyavalkya Smriti. The property was held and transmitted by males to males. When no male heir existed, adoption of one was the usual rule: a daughter's son could be adopted. Property was owned jointly by all male family members in Certain proportions. Widows and unmarried daughters had rights of maintenance.


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