Pandit of Kashmir - Marriage and Family



Marriage. Pandits consider marriage an indissoluble sacrament that binds two families and not merely two Individuals. Marriages are therefore arranged by families. Subcaste endogamy is a prescription, and within the subcaste the rule of gotra exogamy is normally observed. The preferred type of marriage is between completely unrelated families. Bride givers accept a deferential role for themselves and offer dowry to bride takers. Owing to the shortage of women, however, Marriages by exchange between bride givers and takers, though not well thought of, are about as frequent as the favored type of marriage. Very rarely a man may buy himself a wife, but such an arrangement is never publicly acknowledged. Relatively older widowers with resources resort to this practice. Traditionally widows did not remarry but in the last couple of generations some cases of widow remarriage have occurred, involving particularly young childless widows. Girls leave their parental home on marriage and go to live with the husband and his parents. If the husband is employed away from home, the bride begins her life as a married woman by living with her parents-in-law for about a year before joining her husband, who may however visit her at home. Occasionally, when a couple has no sons, they may arrange for their daughter (or one of their daughters, if there are several) to marry patriuxorilocally. Her husband then comes to live with his parents-in-law and looks after them. Since Pandits consider marriage a sacrament, the notion of divorce is absent.

Domestic Unit. The most important kin group of Pandit society is the household ( gara, chulah). It is built around the three-generation minimal lineage. Every household has a History that is subject to the processes of augmentation (birth, adoption, marriage) and depletion (death, adoption, partition, marriage). Depending on the particular phase of the developmental cycle, a household may be either nuclear or extended in its composition.


Inheritance. Traditionally, property (land, house, cattle, fruit trees) goes from father to son, but it is now legally possible for daughters too to claim a share; they generally do not do so. In this limited sense dowry is treated as being equivalent to premortem inheritance, which it is not in principle. For purposes of ownership the household is a coparcenary. A man's sons have a right to equal ownership with him, on a per capita basis, in all his ancestral property; whatever he has earned and accumulated by his own efforts, without making use of anything inherited by him, is exclusively his property. The usual time for dividing property is after a man's death when his sons may no longer be willing to live together under the headship of the oldest among them. The widowed mother may serve as a cementing force: if she does so it is because of her moral authority and not because she has any property rights. The father has both. Occasionally, however, Household dissensions may occur during the lifetime of the father and property may be divided between him and his sons. On his death his share would be divided equally among the sons.


Socialization. The bringing up of children is the collective responsibility of the household. A child's own parents are not expected to take any special interest—apart from breastfeeding of a child by the mother—nor do they have any special responsibility. In fact, grandparents play the principal role in socialization. For about the first six years or so, gender differences between children do not have any particular significance for socialization. Thereafter girls become more intimately associated with older women and boys with older men. Nowadays all boys and almost all girls begin school at about the age of 5 or 6.

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