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Monday, August 1, 2011


Marriage is strictly exogamous. The husband and wife must belong to separate clans—a Sangma cannot marry a Sangma or a Momin a Momin. The children take the mother's clan. If the mother is a Momin and the father a Sangma the children all become Momins, not Sangmas. The proposal for marriage always comes from the woman's side and it is the girl who normally chooses her husband. But an only daughter or the youngest daughter is generally given in marriage to the son of her father's sister or in the absence of such a first cousin to another person of her father's motherhood. After marriage the son-in-law comes to live in his wife's parents house and becomes the father-in-laws' nokrom, that is to say, a kind of representative of the father's clan in the mother's family. After the death of the father-in-law the nokrom marries the widowed mother-in-law, thus becoming the husband of both mother and daughter. This custom, which is beginning to be discarded amongst enlightened sections of Garos, is rather extraordinary and I do not know if there is anything parallel in any other primitive society. Mere marriage with the widow is not sufficient. In order that the female children may be entitled to inherit the mother's property there must be nuptial consummation between the young husband and in his old wife.

When there is no nokrom for a widow to marry, she is not allowed to remarry without the permission of the family of the deceased husband. As this custom, called the law of akim worked harshly on the womenfolk, the Government refused to recognise it. Never theless, the custom is still honoured in practice.

A man can marry as many wives as he wishes but if he marries two sisters he is required to marry the elder one first. Before a man marries a second wife he has to obtain the permission of the first. failing which he is liable to pay compensation (dai) to her. The first wife is called jik-mamung or principal wife and the other wives are called jik-gites, that is, concubines, but this does not mean social inferiority of the jik-gites. When a man marries his uncle's widow she always becomes jik-mamung irrespective of whether she is married earlier or later than the other wives, A widow who refuses to marry her husband's nephew is required to pay dai to the nephew.

There is no custom among the Garos of paying any marriage- price, which exists amongst the Mizos.

Divorce is common and easily obtained on grounds of adultery etc. A man or a woman is entitled to a divorce even without a cause in which case the party seeking the divorce has to pay the customary dai of rupees sixty only.

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