Wednesday, September 23, 2020
Madhya Pradesh

The People


Marriage is conceived as a sanskar wherein an individual is made to perform an important task of perpetualising his patriline. By attaining marital status he fulfils the essential which Manu has recommended.

 Marriage within an endogamous group is performed with a view to keep racial party. Violation of this rule often results into excommunication in many castes living in villages. Exogamy is permitted but it is always a complicated matter to find out a match outside one's own kin group. A village is usually treated as an exogamous unit from where girls may be selected. Among the same gotra, marriage is not strictly prohibited in the agricultural communities of central Madhya  Pradesh. The gotra is understood to be a wider link that a clan maintains. Within the same link there is always another close link of gotra in which marriage relation is not permissible. Two brothers could marry two sisters or  giving and taking could be done by mutual arrangement, by a brother and sister marrying a pair of sibling.

The orthodox section of the Hindu communities follows the Vedic system. Among the enlightened section the marriage is arranged either by willing couples or by their elders. Marriage by elopement is still prevalent in the Bhils of the Vindhyas, but it is confirmed only after the bride-price is ceremonially paid off. Members of the same sect and totem are not allowed to marry.

The Raj Gonds have adopted the Hindu ceremonial. In Bastar and Chanda the primitive form of marriage is still in vogue, though the procedure is now merely symbolical. The most distinctive feature of a Gond wedding is that the procession usually starts from the bride's house and the ceremony is performed at that of the bridegroom. When a Gond wishes to marry his children he first looks to his sisters children, when he considers himself entitled to demand for his own, such a marriage being called 'bringing back the milk'.

Marriage and cohabitation together are rare except among some animistic tribes. Premarital relations are possible within certain tribal groups like the Muria and that too in their Ghotul premises. But when the relations reach to assume marital position, the wedding ceremony becomes absolutely necessary through their elders. In the Abujhmar the boy's parent visit the parents of the girl and present a pot of mahua liquor. If the pot is accepted and all other things are agreeably settled the boy and girl are declared betrothed. Paithu or Paisa Mundi is a type of marriage in which a girl goes of her own to her lover's house to live with him. Kytiyari form is an extension of cross-cousin marriage. This Muria form may be compared with the dudh lotana (bringing back the milk) form of the Gonds.

 The actual marriage ceremony ranges from the most lengthy and elaborate practices to very simple ones, but the essential rites are the same. Use of turmeric and oil and the perambulation of the sacred fire or the pole and all such rituals emphasize the unity of the couple. The feast depends primarily on the availability of funds and secondarily on the customs and traditions of the respective groups.

 Among the Korkens tribe of Madhya Pradesh, the father of the girl catches hold of a capable boy and brings him home. He is called Lamsena. If the Lamsena likes the girl, he has to fulfill two conditions. Firstly, he has to serve as a household servant for 6-12 months, then he has to prove that he has the capacity of a grown man (manhood). To prove his manhood, he has full liberty to have intercourse with the girl, but if the girl does not become pregnant within one year, then Lamsena is made to flee and a new one is caught instead.

There is another tradition among the Korkens, where the girl gets into the house of her fiancÚ. If the boy agrees to marry, the marriage is settled. Otherwise the boy has to leave his house and the village/tribe and whole of his property becomes that of the girl. A similar tradition is that the father of the girl sends the daughter away to search for a life companion . Among some Korkens, the father of the girl selects a boy himself. After getting a suitable boy, the terms of payment are settled and the father of the boy takes away the bride. 


Divorce is permitted on acceptable grounds in every community. It is more convenient in the Adivasis of the state. Remarriage of a widow or a divorced women is no more a problem.

 In central Malwa, there is a large number of castes popularly known as natra castes. Natra is the local form of secondary marriage for women and there is a good deal of difference in the social and ceremonial aspect of biyah or lagan (first marriage) and natra. Biyah is the approved ceremonial form of marriage and natra is a conventional device for the remarriage of divorced women and widows. Natra has its ritual idiom.

 Among the Murias, a similar marriage is called pani-bihao. A widow may marry the younger brother of her dead husband, which is not a taboo in many tribes and agricultural communities. The dissolution of marriage is done by the mutual settlement and in consultation with caste elders by both the parties. A paper required to be signed by the surrender of the claims is a customary practice. The paper is called faragati, meaning disengagement.