Nayaka - Marriage and Family

Marriage. Nayaka mostly find their spouses for themselves within the local community and sometimes among kin outside it. A courtship takes place, then the couple start sleeping together and establish their hearth, and then they increasingly share subsistence pursuits and domestic chores. There is no formal event to mark the marriage: it gradually emerges and is then publicly recognized. Some marriages, especially for long-standing single persons, are arranged. This is done by a maternal uncle or other relatives, and the spouse is usually from outside the local community. Such a union is sometimes celebrated by a meal that is offered to a small gathering of invitees and passersby. Nayaka express a preference for cross-cousin marriage (perhaps under the widespread Dravidian Influence) and secondarily for spouses outside the close circle of relatives. Marriages are monogamous. A new conjugal Family is independent and free to choose its place of residence. Some couples reside with the wife's parents during the initial period of marriage. Separation is common during the early years of marriage; it is effected by mutual agreement or by one of the parties leaving the other. A marriage that survives the early years is likely to endure.

Domestic Unit. A man, a woman, and their young offspring constitute the domestic unit and usually sleep, cook, eat, and work together. Single persons, young or old, are temporarily attached to families. Strict separation is maintained between the living spaces of the conjugal family and those of their long- or short-term visitors. The former, especially, keep their separate hearths, near where they sleep, eat their share of the food on their own, and frequently cook it themselves. Nayaka value their independence highly.

Inheritance. A Nayaka is frequently buried with the few possessions he or she used at the time of death. Children and other relatives sometimes take one or two of the deceased's possessions as remembrances. There is no individual ownership or inheritance of land.

Socialization. Young children are greatly indulged. They are rarely scolded or punished. They spend most of their time with their parents, though occasionally they stay with grandparents or older siblings. At about the age of 10, they start visiting other families in the local community, and later beyond it, for increasingly long periods. They become autonomous in their late teens, and they establish their own conjugal partnerships any time from then up to their mid-twenties. They acquire survival skills and knowledge through watching adults and by trial and error; there is no formal instruction.

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