Saturday, February 24, 2024

Himachal People


Hereditary Laws

The laws of heredity differ from area to area. The hereditary rights pass direct from the father to the son or sons. In case of there being more than one wife, children of all the wives may claim an equal share. If some one has no son, his property is shared equally by the daughters. If the daughter dies issueless, the property then passes on to the father's relatives.

In Spiti the customs are a little different. There the family system is called Jethansi. As the eldest son gets married, he shall become the head of the house and the father shall retire to a smaller house. The eldest son then comes to be known as Rambagchepa and the retired father as Ravangechugpa. The father gets a small plot of land to live by and the younger sons join a monastery. In case the eldest son produces no male heirs, the younger brother may become the head and shoulder the family responsibilities. The land in the area is thus prevented from getting sub divided. In case none of the sons produces a son, the daughter of the house is then married to a man who agrees to come and live in his father-in-law's house and carry on the family traditions. Such a son-in-law is known as Makpa. If the girl dies, or does not have children, the husband may then marry a cousin of hers who then stands to inherit the property.

In Kinnaur and Mahasu many families follow the system of polyandry. In such families when the husband dies, the wife as also property, passes to the next brother and after him the right of property then reverts back to the sons. Illegitimate children or children born of a widow or an unmarried girl have no property rights. They are known as Poltu or Chukandu. Earlier they were used by families as domestic servants and in exchange for their services a small plot of land was given to them. Now they have legal protection against such exploitation and if they can establish their paternity, they can inherit a share of the paternal property. 

Some areas  follow the customs of Jethand, Paghand and Chundband. In Jethand the eldest son  inherits a larger share of the property plus a larger share of his family debts. In Chundaband system all the sons of the various wives have equal share in the paternal property. In Paghand system the property shall first be distributed among the daughter and then among the sons. This custom is prevalent among the Gaddis. Among the Rajputs there existed a system known as Daya Bhag (the rightful position). In this, the eldest son stands to inherit a special portion in addition to his other share by virtue of  being the eldest son.