Sunday, March 26, 2023



Marriage and Morals

youthThe Naga tribes follow the exogamous principle in marriage. Persons of the same clan do not inter-marry and any kind of sexual relations between them is strictly forbidden.

The only exception are the Konyak chiefs who are considered so sacrosanct that their principal wife must be a woman of the same clan.

The Sema's have a legend about the origin of exogamous clans. It is said that Nikhoga, the first man, had six sons but was able to find a wife only for the eldest. This led to intrigues between the brothers. Eventually Nikhoga got disgusted and drove away all the remaining five brothers who, in due course, founded exogamous clans.

Among the Angamis, a young man having fixed his choice up on a certain girl tells his father, who sends a friend to ascertain the wishes of his parents. If they express conditional approval, the bridegroom's father puts the matter further to the test by strangling a fowl and watching the way in which it crosses its legs when dying. If the legs are placed in an inauspicious attitude, the match is immediately broken off. Other wise the girl is informed of the favourable progress of negotiations. At this stage, she can exercise a power of veto, as if she dreams an inauspicious dream within the next three days, her suitor must search a bride else where; if all goes favourably the wedding day is fixed.

Proceeding is begun with a feast at the bride's house and in the evening she proceeds to her husband home; but though she sleeps there, he modestly retires to the bachelor's club. The next day brings more feasting, but night separates the young couple as before. On the third day, they visit their fields together, but not till after eight or nine days have elapsed is the village priest called in, and the happy pair allowed to consummate their wishes.

The Mongsen tribe among the Aos had a peculiar custom. After the boy and the girl  were engaged, they went on a trading expedition for twenty days. If the expedition was profitable, the marriage preparations were proceeded with, but if there was a loss (it was considered as inauspicious omen) the engagement was broken off.

The Naga women are well built, hard working, fairly pretty but short in stature. They are never seen idle. Their chores include fetching water, cutting wood, cooking food, brewing liquor, working in the fields and weaving cloth at home. Most of the tribes shave the girls head until she reaches the marriageable age. The idea is that she is not expected to look attractive and have physical relations with the opposite sex until that age.

Pre-nuptial license varies from tribe to tribe. Among the Angamis it is normal for a girl to have a lover, but the society is strict and the boy and the girl are not expected to go beyond a reasonable limit. The Sema's guard their  girl with the greatest care, the reason being that a girl fetches a handsome price at marriage and this price would be substantially reduced if she got involved in a scandal. The offenders in this respect are made to pay heavy fines. The amount of fine would depend up on the social position of the girl's father and would also be in proportion to the girl's anticipated marriage price. The Ao society is comparatively permissive. In earlier days, the Ao girl as soon a she reached puberty, slept in a separate sleeping house with a couple of other girls, there she would more often than not admit her love at night. Among the Konyaks, pre-martial promiscuity is common.