Marriage and Divorce
Marriage is not a matter of ephemera; it is a matter of lifetime matter. Marriage is a sacred for many religions and supposes to abide the marriage vow to the end of their last breath. According to Vidya, “Marriage is an institution which admits men and women to family life. It is a stable relationship in which a man and woman are socially permitted to have children implying the right to sexual relations.”22 Horton and Hunt defined as, “Marriage is the approved social pattern whereby two or more persons established a family.”23
In Poumai Naga community, monogamy is practiced. There is no child marriage and dowry system. There is not bride price system among the Poumai community. Intermarriage between the same clan or Khel is prohibited. Marriage to his own sister, paternal cousin is restricted yet marriage to his maternal cousin is accepted. Generally, the marriage engagements are taken in the months of July and August. The wedding ceremonies are held in the months of September and October. In antique some of the parents and kin engaged their son and daughter without the knowledge and consent. Most of the marriages were parents’ arranged married.
The Poumai community in present situation, love marriages are becoming more common. When a man want to get marry a woman, he usually inform to his kin or bosom friend or directly disclose to his parents, otherwise the parents summon the son and ask if he has any choice of any girl or parents project a girl. In any cases, deliberation about the choice of girl is done with son, parents and relatives. After such kind of family deliberation, the boy’s parents send the message for engagement to girl’s parents through some one. In olden days – dream is one of the important aspects in marriage engagement, which is considered in final engagement. The girl’s parent first observed the dream and if the dream is good, negotiation for the engagement continues; otherwise it cease for further marriage engagement. During the engagement, the boy’s parents share with the girl’s parents what they will give to their son after the marriage. Generally, some immovable property like paddy field, house etc is given by the parent to their son but the bride’s parents do not give any immovable property except in some cases when her parents are very rich or have no any son.
In ancient time, the old women administered the marriage ceremonies. The marriage ceremonies are generally held in the evening. The groom with his friends and some elder women go to the bride’s residence to take the bride. When the bride and bridegroom reached the bridegroom’s residence, they exchange banana leaf cup with rice beer as a mark of respect and love to one another. On the first day of their marriage, a small girl from bridegroom relative sleeps with the bride and bridegroom. It is a taboo that they should not sleep together before completing five days of their marriage. Today the old traditional marriage system is not found in any of the Poumai villages, since there is not any Yaosomai youth; all the marriage ceremonial rites and rituals are done biblically as they adopted Christianity.
After 2-3 months of marriage, the couples are given a special lunch and dinner known as Kotouyou. Kotouyou is a kind of honeymoon for the couple in antique. The bridegroom is introduced to all the bride’s relatives and a good rapport is developed.Kotouyou is carried out after the harvest of the paddy field i.e. in the month of December or January. The bride’s relative sponsored lunch and dinner with rice beer. One chicken is a must to be killed during Kotou. During the Kotouyou, the husband is sometime put to test his skill in butchering, splitting firewood and other aspects. Kotouyou is a special days for them, which can be engraved in their heart to be remembered in the future. The husband killed the chicken or whatever the host provide any animal for them and cut the meat for lunch and dinner. Killing the chicken and cutting meat is just a part of testing the skill of the husband by the wife’s parents and relatives. The newly married couple has lunch and dinner in one of the wife relative and after the dinner the host give a basket full of paddy and some time with live chicken. The couple shift to another house the next day to have lunch and dinner and this continue for more than 15 days depending on the number of the bride’s closed relatives. On the last day of Kotouyou, the couple is brought enough chicken in their house, so they killed the chicken and distributed to all the relatives of the husband. Kotouyou is still practiced in Poumai community. The engagement season or time continues to follow the old traditional way, which is usually carried out in the month of July – August. And marriage ceremony took place in the month of September or October. However today the marriage ceremony takes place any month of the year according to the convenient of the betrothed couple.
Naotayou (divorce) is not common in Poumai Naga society. There is no Marriage Acts for the Poumai Naga but the customary law is applied to all the divorced couples. According to the customary laws, if the husband divorced his wife, he is liable to pay his movable property to his wife. If the wife divorced her husband, she loses everything including all the gifts she received during her marriage.
When the wife is pregnant at the time of divorce, the husband gives the maintenance allowance for the child to his ex-wife. During the divorce, usually husband takes sons and wife takes daughters. One of the main reasons of divorces in antique is drinking rice beer. The husbands are drunk frequently and beaten up the wife and due to this, the wife run away from the husband. Secondly, living an adultery life also led to divorce but divorces are uncommon in Poumai Naga community. In Christian society, divorce is strictly observed and all the Poumai abide the marriage vows in the church. However in some rare cases, divorces are founding in some villages.
Copyright@ Dr. R.B. Thohe Pou