Qalandar - Kinship, Marriage, and Family



Kinship. All Qalandar consider themselves kin to the extent that they trace themselves back to a common, but unknown, apical ancestor. They are related to each other in many different and involuted ways and the kin terminology is descriptive in nature (i.e., separate terms for each relationship) . Qalandar often joke that no one actually knows for certain who his biological father really is. One's father ( pater ) is the husband of his or her mother at the time of birth. Children of the same mother or children who have nursed from the same breast are considered siblings. The children of successive generations of siblings are considered members of the same zat or descent group. An individual may not marry his or her own sibling or a parental or grandparental sibling. Descent is traced bilaterally through the mother and pater at birth.

Marriage. Qalandar are strictly endogamous and all marriages are arranged by parents and/or parental siblings. Engagements, marriages, and frequent divorces occupy a large part of Qalandar time and figure heavily in determining the alliances among families traveling together. All marriages and most divorces are arranged and involve payment of brideprice ( bovar ) for females. Either spouse and/or their parents may negotiate a divorce and remarriage so long as reimbursement of the bride-price can be agreed upon. Qalandar prefer parallel-cousin marriage because they believe it helps to maintain sibling solidarity.

Domestic Unit. Qalandar use the term puki for both tent and family. Puki is the basic social and productive unit, structurally similar to Western notions of nuclear family. The tent is the commensal unit comprised of a female, her spouse, and their unmarried children. A new tent or puki is created by both marriage and divorce. Once betrothed, individuals never return to or reside in their natal tent. Each tent is self-sufficient; however, families usually form temporary alliances with other tents to travel and work together.

Inheritance. Only the physical tent structure is corporately held by a family; all other physical and animal possessions are individually owned. Following death, possessions are distributed among tent members. Any livestock that has been purchased with loans is sold and the cash used to settle accounts with creditors.

Socialization. From infancy, children are incorporated into income-producing activities, first as beggars, then as participants in entertainment routines. Qalandar believe that children learn best through imitation and example, and from birth they are carried or placed where they can observe tent and camp activities. There are no separate worlds for adults and children. Praise for appropriate behavior rather than corporal punishment for misadventures is most common. Children are encouraged to become economically independent as soon as possible and all are capable of supporting themselves by age 9.


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