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Traditional Wedding System and Marriage by Elopement among Kalasha Tribe of District Chitral, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan

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Abstract

This study focuses the traditional wedding system and marriage by elopement conducted in Kalasha tribe of district Chitral, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan. The tribe (community) under study has segmentary system based on patrilineal descent. In such a system, linage is defined through strict rules in the form of exogamy and prohibits intermarriages among agnates (Muslims and Kalash) and continues for generations i.e. from a common ancestor. The study is framed under qualitative approach of research whereas the data has been taken from a PhD research survey conducted in 2008-09 from 825 households through anthropological techniques including participant observation and in-depth interviews from 75 respondents (both male and female of age 15 and above in Anish and Brun Village of Bomburet Valley Kalash).The ethnographic details and field information indicate that marriage system was very stable in the past where it was guided by centuries old customs and traditions but with the invent of modern trends like education, influence of mass media and cultural contacts, a shift in the form of marriage and girls' elopement practices have been occurred among the members of research community. The practice of arranged marriages has been replaced by love marriages and marriage by elopement. The incidents of wives' elopements have created antagonism and feuds between lineages of ex-husband and abductor. Resultantly, compensations are paid to regulate the marital stability and to resolve socio-cultural and religious complications created by intermarriages between Muslims and Kalasha. In such a scenario, the second suitor must pay compensation in double as a bride price to the previous husband.
FWU Journal of Social Sciences, Summer 2015, Vol. 9, No.1, 59-69
59
Traditional Wedding System and Marriage by Elopement among Kalasha
Tribe of District Chitral, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan
Arab Naz
University of Malakand Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
Irum Sheikh
F.G College of Home Economics and Management Sciences, Islamabad
Waseem Khan
University of Malakand
Gohar Saeed
Pakistan Academy of Rural Development Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
This study focuses the traditional wedding system and marriage by elopement conducted in Kalasha tribe of
district Chitral, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan. The tribe (community) under study has
segmentary system based on patrilineal descent. In such a system, linage is defined through strict rules in
the form of exogamy and prohibits intermarriages among agnates (Muslims and Kalash) and continues for
generations i.e. from a common ancestor. The study is framed under qualitative approach of research
whereas the data has been taken from a PhD research survey conducted in 2008-09 from 825 households
through anthropological techniques including participant observation and in-depth interviews from 75
respondents (both male and female of age 15 and above in Anish and Brun Village of Bomburet Valley
Kalash).The ethnographic details and field information indicate that marriage system was very stable in the
past where it was guided by centuries old customs and traditions but with the invent of modern trends like
education, influence of mass media and cultural contacts, a shift in the form of marriage and girls’
elopement practices have been occurred among the members of research community. The practice of
arranged marriages has been replaced by love marriages and marriage by elopement. The incidents of
wives’ elopements have created antagonism and feuds between lineages of ex-husband and abductor.
Resultantly, compensations are paid to regulate the marital stability and to resolve socio-cultural and
religious complications created by intermarriages between Muslims and Kalasha. In such a scenario, the
second suitor must pay compensation in double as a bride price to the previous husband.
Key Words: Marriage, elopement, patrilineal, descent, Kalasha, bride price, dowry, exogamy, ritual
One of the dominant tendencies in human beings across
history has been the desire to establish a family through a
relatively universal social institution of marriage whereby
two or more persons fulfill their major needs of sex
regulation and reproduction within a specific relational
framework (Horton and Hunt, 1984). Marriage, being a
universal social institution intended to regulate the family
system, but its implications; forms and functions are
different in different cultures and societies of the world. As a
durable and stable relationship between a man and women,
it not only permits the couple to have a communal social
standing but also a legal right to have children (Johnson,
1960). In this context, Malinowski (1929) views marriage
synonymous with a social contract that aims at procreation
and child maintenance. Similarly Lowie (1978) regard it a
relatively durable or permanent attachment between mates
which regulate and satisfy human desires.
1
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Dr.
Arab Naz, Associate Professor and Chairman Department of
sociology and social work university of Malakand Khyber
Pakhtunkhwa Pakistan, Email: arab_naz@yahoo.com
Most of the Anthropological studies invest their
contributions in the context of recognizing marriage as a
system and the extent to which it is prevalent in various
societies. Further, they also have much concern with the
consequences of mating relationship in various societies. In
this regard, a major portion of Anthropological work has
reached to the conclusion that marriage is a more or less
permanent association of males and females that forms a
family, satisfies human biological and social needs and gives
sanctions to bear children. The structure and forms of
marriage vary from culture to culture and society to society
where it has several types based upon number of individuals
united and the kinship relations between or among them.
The contribution of marriage system is to form a social group
of one or another kind that in either of the way influences
other relational groups (Schwartz, and Ewald, 1969).
Much of the anthropological and sociological
scholarships indicate that a variety of marriage systems exist
in the world which is promisingly accepting the theory of
cultural relativism (Naz, 2009-11, Mead, 1930). In this
context, the most important is monogamy which is a
common form of marriage of only having a single spouse at a
Naz, Sheikh, Khan, Saeed
60
given time(Robinson, 1997) or one spouse during the whole
life (Williams, 2005). Monogamy includes social, sexual,
genetic, martial, and serial monogamy (Lacy, 2009). In some
societies, polygamy is practiced which is very common in Tiwi
(Robinson, 1997). The different types of polygamy includes
Polygyny (a practice in which a man is allowed to have one
wife or sexual partner at a time) and Polyandry (a form of
marriage ties that allows a women to have more than one
husbands). In fraternal polyandry (common in Tibet and
Nepal) a group of brothers marries one woman. Marriage
institution has now taken a different shape in the modern
World. Same sex marriages i.e. Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and
Transsexual have become the norm in the western world
particularly in the United States (Patrick, Rector, 2009).
Similarly, Ghost Marriage has been practiced in many
cultures when an influential or a wealthy childless person
(particularly a male member) of a village died (Dennis, 2009)
and her women is supposed to marry his ghost in a ceremony
(usually, with the brother of deceased). Such marriages are
common in Sudan, China, and Nigeria. This marriage
resembles levirate marriage whereby at the death of the
husband, a woman marries one of husband’s brothers,
mostly common in Middle East, and Asia (Paul, 2009). Studies
also highlight arranged marriages in which no prior consent is
obtained from the couple involved i.e. such marriages are
performed through force, limitation put by tradition,
courtships (Stone, 2006). Similarly, in many cultures, man
and woman after marriage move to live somewhere
depending on the pattern of culture i.e. the residence
pattern is either Neolocal (the couple finds a new house of
their own) Patrilocal (the new couple resides in husband’s
father’s family) Matrilocal (the married couple moves to live
wife house to live) and Avunculocal (the couple after
marriage resides in husband’s mother’s brother) (Rao, 2004).
In most of the Indian societies; marriages are performed by
arrangement, thorough trial, elopement, by force, by love as
well as by judging the level of residence (Chandra, 2005,
Myrna, 2009). Thus, it is obvious that the practices of
marriage prevailing in different parts of the world provide a
unique and traditional identity to a group or society in a
shared geographical area. Analyzing the context of the
current study, the inhabitants of Kalash have various
observable customs where the most important is marriage.
Similarly, marriage through elopement is more frequent and
is very common amongst married women (Sheikh, et al.
2013). Wife elopement is an important custom of Kalasha
culture, and thus after marriage the husband has to pay to
woman’s family. However, if the female wants to leave her
husband, and agrees to marry another man, then again the
same procedure of payment will be involved (Sheikh, et al.
2013). The concept of marriage has been thus utilized to
understand the union or establishment of relationship
between a male and female which has been approved by
Kalasha community in the area or the Muslim community in
the research community. The concept of marital relationship
has thus been undertaken in the current study for the
analytic understanding of the relative position of the culture
in the research area. In this regard, the Kalasha traditions for
wedding and marriage are unique and are treated as very
sacred, deviation of any kind from which can attract
misfortune and brings damage to the married couple and life
of other family members as well. The research is thus an
attempt to overview marriage and traditional wedding
system in the unique culture of Kalash, along with an
observable shift in its form and nature in the community
under study.
The Study Argument
It has been identified by research studies that the
people of Kalasha adhere to follow the marital rules and
rituals as existed since centuries but with the invent of
modern trends, most of them especially youngsters are more
prone to the changing patterns regarding marriage (Schwartz
and Ewald, 1969; Wynne, 2001). The Kalasha community is
simultaneously patriarchal and polygamous. Control over the
family as well as the right of multiple marriages is available
only to the male members of the community. The marriage
system in Kalashian community is based upon tribal rules
which can still be observed in the locality under focus. The
words related to marriage in Kalash do not refer to
relationship between parents rather such association and
contract is transforming a female into wife (Wynne, 2001). In
the local context of Kalasha dialect, the marriage of a female
is known as jathiaau and ja kai aauis used for male marriage
while the act male marriage is known as asjanik. Besides, the
parents give their dik i.e. daughter to a person in marriage
called jadek.
This study is based upon field information
ethnographically collected during a PhD survey of 825
households in the year 2008-09. The study of traditional
wedding and marriage practices as exist in the research
locale has been taken into consideration along-with a change
with regard to girl (wife of someone) elopement cases that
occur in the Dardic speaking Kalasha community of
Hindukush Mountain in District Chitral Pakistan. Historically,
the Kalasha community follows a segmentary system of
patrilineal descent where the lineage is defined by strict rules
of exogamy, which prohibits intermarriages between agnates
related within seven generations of a descent of a common
ancestor. Centuries old customs and traditions laid down a
set of strict rules and practices which provide a ground for
the stability of such marriages in the area. However, due to
modern trends like education, media and cultural exposure
of the area, girl (wife of someone) elopement incidences
have been occurring intermittently which create antagonism,
rivalries, and conflicts between lineages of ex-husband and
abductor.
Relationally, to regulate the marital stability, the
mechanism of compensation has been designed, which is
paid by the second suitor in double as a bride price to the
previous husband. However, the shift in interpersonal rules is
a threat to the stability and survival of the old cultural
practices as well as identity of the culture. This study is thus
part of the larger work which focuses changing patterns of
TRADITIONAL WEDDING SYSTEM
61
marriage and wife elopement practices among the local
community and their impacts on the larger cultural patterns.
Specific Objectives of the Study
To examine the Kalasha traditional wedding system
and marriage by elopement in the target area
To investigate the impact of bride price as
compensation by the abductor to the ex-husband
of eloped wife in matrimonial decision-making
process
To examine the socio-cultural and religious
complications created by Muslim - Kalasha
marriages
Method
The current study is purely qualitative and descriptive in
nature which attempts to describe the phenomena in detail
(to describe what happened) as highlighted by Bialy (1978).
This method makes efforts in a systematic manner to
examine the phenomena of marriage and elopement cases
and their impact upon mate selection decisions as well as
antagonism arising from the marital relations under
conditions that actually exist among the natives of Kalasha
community. The rationale for adapting this method was
manifold - Description of field observations, collection and
presentation of information and evidences on the basis of
previous literature or theory, careful summarization of data
obtained through interviews, observations and other
anthropological techniques and analyzing results to draw
meaningful conclusion and developing new knowledge.
In this regard, qualitative and descriptive approach has
been adopted towards the events and issues related to the
traditional marriage practices of Kalasha valley. The study is
confined to both Muslims and Kalash (non-Muslim) residing
in the valley of Hindukush mountains. The Kalash valley
comprises of three valleys such as Bamburet, Birrir and
Rumboor where the non-Muslims of Kalash are residing
along with the Chitrali Muslims. The data was collected from
825 households through anthropological techniques:
participant observation and in-depth interviews. The total
number of respondents was 75 including both male and
female of age 15 and above in Anish and Brun village of
Bomburet Valley Kalash. The collected information has been
thematically narrated and extracts from interviews have also
been given in support of the narrated data. Besides, the
interviews are coded as R-1A, (Respondent, Number and
Name) and complete confidentiality is ensured for the
secrecy and exposure of the data. Finally, the data has been
classified and the results have been given in the form of
separate headings (for each category) and conclusion has
been drawn. The details of the ethnography and other field
information are provided in descriptive form in the following
passages:
Economic Exchange and the Traditional Marriage
System
Research studies indicate that marriage is not only a
social and economic institution but also a biological base for
family formation (Mead, 1930; Horton and Hunt, 1996; Naz,
2012). The concept of bride price or bride money exists in
most of the societies of the world; however the nature and
shape of the custom vary from society to society and area to
area (Naz, 2011; Khan, 2012). In this context, similar tradition
also exist in Kalasha community where the ethnographic
details and field information indicate that locally, the bride
price (mal`zuk) is a fixed amount in the form of cash money
or property as well as part of wealth or any other substance
which is payable by the groom directly or by his family to the
parents of a woman to accept the marriage. The gift paid in
the shape of bride price has to serve the purpose of making
the marriage association as durable and permanent and in
case of any breach, the possible compensation is therefore
made in advance to the bride or her family. For example, the
view of a respondent has been recorded as
"I believe that the fixation of the bride price among
families provide more support to the groom. The marriage
association is strengthened and in case of any mishap i.e.
breach of marriage contract, the girl is compensated. I
remember three cases of divorce and five cases of elopement
where a huge amount of cash, property and many other
material has been given to female and they are now living in
a happy way with the children……(From field notes R-5D)
The custom of bride price has been a significant
contributor to the safety of wife in case of any ill treatment
or in situations of breaking the marriage ties by party other
than the bride. In addition, the fixed amount in the form of
bride price protects the wife from the imposition of divorce
because the husband will then pay an obligatory amount in
compensation. Among others, the bride price or bride wealth
system plays a dominant role in streamlining the wealth and
property arrangement and even distribute and organize the
possible alliances in most of the societies (Loude, and Lievre,
1988). Thus the existing of the institution make it compulsory
on the husband to help reserve a valuable amount of goods,
money or any other such part for his wife during the process
of marriage. Similarly, according to Gluckman (1953) in many
patrilineal societies including Kalasha, the payment is also
made for the rights to assign children to their father's family
rather than to their mother’s.
In light of field information, it has been observed that
marriage, as an institution for Kalasha people is subjected to
changes and transformation due to the influence of
modernity and social changes during the past few decades.
The matrimonial decisions were mostly arranged by family
members or elders in the past as parents or family elders
were regarded as the authority to decide matters related to
family and their children. Similarly, the bidders who are
ranked higher in bid to win the bride or female hand bazawill
be called the successor. In such cases, the bride amount
Naz, Sheikh, Khan, Saeed
62
usually consist of gun, animals, trunk, goats or sheep and
even utensils for cooking or other purposes (Naz, 2009).
Further, the mentioned things are then stored in a specified
room of the house while both the parties are responsible for
their confirmation during their first meeting. The preparation
in this regard is based on the boy’s lineage to have their
contribution to maximize the level of gifts collection and help
the lineage during the marriage. Thus the helping of the
lineage is reciprocally received by other party when and
where such time is reached. However, the helping process is
only limited to close circle of the lineage and in specific
cases, this may be extended to the whole of the lineage as
well.
Furthermore, Wynne (2001), is of the opinion that the
bride price includes things i.e. property (mal) in the form of
objects, animals, grains, cheese, or even biscuits, sugar, tea,
and oil with varying amounts. During 1970’s, the amount for
the bride wealth was up-to sixty articles (soren) and the
same was payable before the marriage (Parkes, 1983).
Similarly, the bride wealth also include the amount of food
expenses utilized for wife’s lineage or food items purchased
for households in time of trouble i.e. funeral or items
requested by affine (Parkes, 1983). From past till date, this
amount is fixed as standard, however, a gift of cash is now
included in the bride price ranging from 5,000 to 10,000
depending on the economic prosperity of the bride groom
and his lineage. The terms of the bride price contract
depends on a very careful consideration of the possession of
the parties, their respective social position and reputation,
and of what the man`s household can materially provide to
balance the women`s promise to increase the size of “hive”.
The price of the bride also known as Kauk-Kaukliterally
child- child is basically the price of generation (Loude, and
Lievre, 1988).
In similar context, another type of exchange of the
economic means which are linked with the tradition of
wedding is the concept of dowry which is also called Jahez
and is mostly prevalent in the subcontinent region. The
tradition of dowry is associated with transfer i.e. transfer in
the form of wealth which is usually from the parents of
female towards male (in some cases it is opposite) or in the
form of cash money, land or even goods. Besides, the male
member i.e. husband in case of dowry brings money, wealth
or other such valuable material to household (i.e. the newly
created) and the dowry in this case is taught as a donation to
the wife and for the household (see Parkes, 1983). In some
cases, the amount received in for dowry is treated like
inheritance and such conception is relative to cultural
structure and gender positions. The existence of the dowry
system in a class and caste ridden society provide more social
security where a female could enjoy her life in case the
divorce occurs. Similarly, the wife in case of divorce is able to
get all the amount of dowry from both the families and the
greater amount fixation is a leading factor of wife’s optimal
satisfaction.
In the study area of Kalasha culture, two stages of jahez
have been observed i.e. in stage one, the girl receives an
amount from her family or parents and in stage two, she is
getting an amount from parent or in laws or gifts once she
gives birth to a baby. Similarly, the traditional main types of
dowries included are Coomon, Gajom, Merat and Serik Dyek.
However, the concept of receiving the jahez from natal
family is a kind of expectation not compulsion. The ceremony
takes place after the birth of the first child; because the birth
of a child is surly the establishment of family and recognition
of marriage. The Natal families or natural group in this case
are responsible for organizing extensive meal for their
daughter as well as In-laws of the daughter to share the
meal. Such moments are thus a kind of celebration as well as
honoring the daughter within the new family structure
(Wynne, 2001) as well as to provide an emotional strength to
married women in several ways. In a historical context, as
identified by Parkes (1983) in his study during 1979, the
normal weight or quantity of jahez included sheep (5-10 in
number), having age of 15-20 Muti i.e. of age one year at
minimum, cows or bull from 1-2 in number, blankets, bed
and other valuable metal utensils and cups. Besides, the
tradition is slight different among the well-off families and
they provide an amount of Rs: 5000/- in cash or more which
depends upon the nature of the family. Similarly,
economically strong families provide fruit tress including
walnut trees, apple or to the daughter that further support
children in alien family. The amount of jahez given during the
field work for the current study was the same. However;
china ceramics, glass utensils, clothes, sweaters, jackets and
tennis shoes are also included in the jahes. In this regard, one
of the field interviews indicates that
For my marriage, I have paid an amount of 50 thousand
as cash, 20 sheep, 03 cows, five trees of fruits and even I have
reserved a house for the bride as well. I could give even more
to the female and this is because of the economic background
……(From field notes R-45G)
Kalasha Community and Traditional Weddings
The traditions and practices regarding marriage are
entirely different among the Muslims and the Kalash. In this
regard, the procedure and ceremonial arrangements of the
Muslim couple has been differently located and identified.
The wedding ceremonies for a Muslim couple are adhering to
strict Islamic laws and values. Similarly, most of the
arrangements are initiated and followed by family members
in consultation with elders and in most of the cases; the
decision is taken by them. The female are prohibited to claim
for choosing her life partner and such an act is treated as a
stigma for the whole family. Dowry or bride price is fixed and
the bridegroom receives the amount of bride price in various
shapes i.e. property, cash amount, or any other material as
agreed and consented by the parties. However, it is very
critical during the marriage proposal to see and observe the
economic condition and social standing of the bridegroom
because among the local community, marriage is the only
way through which a man and women have their social and
TRADITIONAL WEDDING SYSTEM
63
sexual legitimacy and approval of relationship in future.
Similarly, any such contact without the bond of marriage is
disallowed by Islam and is regarded as adultery which is a
punishable offence. The extract of an interview is given as:
As we are Muslim and we believe on the social, cultural
and religious approval of the marriage relation, so we have
the Nikah process as per our religious approval. A female was
also punished for her illegitimate relations as I know some
year ago as the act was adultery and was against the
tradition of religion (From field notes R-26F).
Among Muslims, marriage and wedding ceremonies are
joyful occasions where the union of two individuals is
accordingly celebrated and publicized. Such activities are
long and continue for many days. A man and a woman enter
into the marriage contract or bond while signing the contract
paper usually called Nikkahnama in the Islamic way of
marriage procedure. The Nikkahnama (written agreement on
stamp paper) is prepared by the lawyers of both bride and
bridegroom side. In this way, the groom represents himself
and utilizes the assistance of two witnesses (gawah). The
bride’s maternal or paternal uncles or her brother may be
presented as her lawyer (wakil), while father being her wali,
the one who gives her in marriage. The alimony or mahr is
paid at the time of nikkah which is the responsibility of
husband and may be paid in cash, property or any movable
objects to the bride himself. As the amount of mahr is not
legally specified, however, moderation according to the
existing social norm is recommended. The mahr may be paid
immediately to the bride at the time of marriage, or deferred
to a later date, or a combination of both. In this regard, the
Holy Quran (4:4) clearly says that gives women their due
mahr at the time of marriage or nikah and gives gifts to them
as well. During the process of nikah both the parties i.e.
nominees or the couple expresses willingness or ijab during
the consent time and the other party expresses 'qubul for
acceptance and take the responsibility of the female in the
open gathering or assembly of people. Similarly, the paper of
the contract is prepared showing the agreement of both the
parties (i.e. all the term and conditions are pre-determined)
and finally signed by bride and groom along-with witnesses
at the occasion. After the mentioned process, the approved
and signed marriage contract i.e. aqd-Nikkah is made public
and social approval is thus granted. At this time, prayers are
offered and repeated by the assembly for the smooth
running of the future family as well as happiness, prosperity
and success of couple. The analysis of a case has been noted
as an example:
I am witnessed of several gathering of nikah process
where the male and female has their own wali and the permit
to solemnize the contract in front of a huge gathering. After
the acceptance of the two parties, few verses of the Holy
Quran are recited and then the whole gathering of the people
pray for the long life and prosperity of the new family……..
(From field notes R-45G)
The study shows that many things are included in the
preparation process of the wedding ceremony. In this
context, the information and field data indicate that
traditional dresses are common during the wedding process
in the area and such dress is an integral part of the traditions.
The bridal dress is shalwar kameez (made of silk), with a
heavily embellished duppata, a chaddar, and shoes with
embroidery (golden in nature) with embroidered cap is very
common. Similarly, head band, jewelry and burqa is
associated element of the dress code. In the context of the
dress, shalwar kameez, golden and attractive waist coat, cap
of Chitrali nature and even a beautiful shawl is proposed
dress for the groom. The marriage party is arranged and the
girls' relatives are warmly received while the common
villagers gather together for the wedding celebration. The
provision of dowry is essential in many parts of the country,
but there is compulsion on the provision of dowry in Chitral
community. In the research community, the amount is
usually decided on the mutual consent of the parents and
priority is given to the social and economic standing of the
male member. In case, the male member is unable to pay the
amount, the female is permitted to marry even in a single
pair of cloth. However, if the male party is agreed and afford
the bride price, the usual and most common items in the
dowry includes embroidered bed sheets (4 or more than four
in numbers) ,quilts (02 in number), at least one box (of
clothes), gold jewelry i.e. bangles, necklaces, rings (silver is
also allowed), shoes or footwear, animals (cow or goats etc)
head bands, cuffs, hand bags, utensils and other such item
are most commonly observable.
Similarly, in the kho culture, the marriage is always
sought through family of the prospective husband while
family of girl has no such role. In this context, a trusted and
confidential proposal (mozarodik) is initiated and sent and if
the girl’s father shows an agreement, then the boys' father is
given permission to bring other family members to ask for
the hands of the girl known as vechik or maskikin the local
language. The breakage of the engagement is considered
very bad in the locality and such matter is resolved through
Jirga of the elders (i.e. the jirga decides the case and the
breakers are punished through mutual agreement).
However, once again, much care is taken for the economic
stability of the parties and according to the views of
respondent;
"We are much concerned with the economic position of
the bride and groom's family and mostly the girl’s family if
less privileged, suffers the severe consequences. In such a
situation, they have to give another daughter, or next to kin
in matrimony to the aggrieved family (From field notes R-
60C).
Forms and Types of Weddings in Kalash Valley
The information obtained during field visits indicate that
in Kalasha community, the traditions and customs regarding
wedding are slightly different from Muslims traditions. In the
context of the area, three forms or types of marriages are
Naz, Sheikh, Khan, Saeed
64
practiced by the native people in Kalasha. The most common
marriage pattern is marriage by arrangement (Khaltabare),
marriage by love and by Elopement. The study is mainly
organized to analyze the Wife (married girl) Elopement (the
new trends developed in contemporary Kalasha community)
which is the main focus of this study and which give rise to
rivalries and antagonism.
The Kalasha Arranged Marriage (Khaltabare)
The most traditional and common method of marriages
which is historically and customary approved among the local
people is the arranged marriages. The elders of the family i.e.
parents have the privilege and authority to decide their
children's future. In such cases, the parents decide the choice
of spouse, proper date and time for marriage as well as
issues related to bride price. It is observed that the
engagement (spouse selection) is usually made in a very
young age as one of the respondents said;
"It is very commonly practiced among the local people
that a female in Kalash (locally called as is tarizagauk) hand
is given in her teenage. This is the time when she is not aware
or even does not know the meaning of the word marriage
and the relationship after marriage as well (From field notes
R-33Z).
Further, the data indicate that even the female at this
stage has no such preference for selecting a person as her
husband. Similarly, in many cases, the husband or male is
much older than the girl or sometimes the hands of the girl
are handed over to a person whose previous wife is either
dead or eloped with a lover or promised into matrimony to a
child of their own age. The age difference is not considered
as an issue while the parents prioritize the prosperity,
sustainability and safe future of their daughter.
The social structure is predominantly based on blood
and marital relations through which the members of one
group are linked to other groups in the community (Haviland
and William, 1987). In this regard, to keep and maintain the
purity of lineage, they do not allow or encourage their male
child to marry outside their own ethnic group. This is a
common practice in small and closed society because the
small size of the group and lack of social mobility is
compensated by extending restriction on marriage. Thus all
women with whom one can trace a family relationship or
kinship are prohibited (Strauss, 1958). Therefore, the
eligibility of arranging a certain union, an institution is
required which can establish the “genealogical suitability”. In
order to avoid the defiance and marriage within the
prohibited blood relations or complexity of lineal descents,
parents prefer to arrange the marriages during early
childhood (Schuyler, 1974).
In case of intentional or unintentional violation, the
defiant couple is not physically punished or banished from
the society disgracefully. They experience a social boycott
“Bahira”. They are prohibited from entering the holy places
and participating in religious festivals. The immediate
families though remain associated and interact formally,
inherit the shame for generations. On the funeral of such
cases the descendants are allowed to beat the tambourines.
Aspan clan of Anish village Bumburet had suffered this
condemnation but in those days due to less population and
economic depression the rules were relaxed and on the basis
of the sacrifice made to the goddesses to seek forgiveness
for the crime committed by their elders and to salvage their
family honor and prestige, were allowed to participate and
attend the rituals and religious gatherings.
Marriage by Love or by Elopement
It is also one of the common and important types of
traditional marriage practiced in the community under study.
As indicated by field information that love marriage or
marriage by elopement which is becoming a common
tradition in many other communities of the country as well.
Like that of the Muslims community, the difference observed
in the age is usually ignored for the purpose of obtaining
wealth as well as economic prosperity. In the current
scenario of the area, as observed and with rapid and
frequent interaction among the local people, the trend
regarding decision making about marriage among couples
have been changed and mostly the young generations are
taking initiative regarding their own marriage choice.
Analyzing such changes, one of the respondents expresses
that;
Currently, there is no such care for the old traditions and
we have a change in our decision regarding the selection of a
marriage partner, his or her age and even family to marry
with……….(From field notes R-21N)
The analysis indicates that the locale people (Kalash
community) and mostly the family members and parents do
not oppose the changing trend in decisions as taken by males
or female regarding the selection or rejection of a marriage
partner. Another reason as noted during the visit was the
small size of the community in which the parents, children
and other community members are aware of their children’s
choice and intentions. However, the parents do possess the
skills of making adjustment and convince their children in
case of any disagreement caused by any person to make an
end to the relationship. Further, it has also been observed
that whenever the children disobey the will of the parents, it
is leading to the couple elopement and marriage. During
such an act, the parents disassociate and break the
relationship with their children however such disassociation
is for a very short time. Mostly, the age limit for love
marriage as well as marriage by elopement has been in the
range of 14 to 15 years (for female) while it is in the range 17
to 20 (for male) members.
Among the people of the community under study, it has
been indicated that during love marriage a friend of a boy
acts like a mediator. In performing his role as a mediator, a
boy is able to send and conveys messages of his friends'
TRADITIONAL WEDDING SYSTEM
65
feelings and love for the girl (now it is up to the girl whether
to accept or reject the message). In case if a girl confesses
that she has any feeling of love for the boy, the next step is
that both the boy and girl start meeting in places of isolation
(mostly in pastures i.e. inside or even outside village). Such
meetings on regular basis leads to an understanding
between a boy and girl the thus is a leading factor in girls'
elopement at the end. The process of elopement mostly
occurs during social and religious festivals i.e. during the
chalm-josh (spring festival) that held in May of every year is
famous for elopements. In this regard, it has been extracted
from the interview of a respondent that:
"During the chalm-josh (spring festival), it is usual for us
when we see maximum number of elopement of youngsters.
It happen on the 4th day of festival that young male and
female elope and few days later, the father, elder brother of
the girl visit the husband’s house to ask her whether she
wants to continue living with the boy or not or she has eloped
by choice or by force... (From field notes R-40D)"
In this regard, the data suggest that if the parents of the
girl feel any doubt or apprehension about the status or
personality of the boy; his family or other matter, a visit is
confirmed on the next day of elopement. During this visit,
the girl tries to satisfy her family and parents and give her
consent about elopement as well as future life to live with
the selected husband. Further, it has been analyzed from the
information that during Kalash weddings, the proposal of
groom is led by the uncle (maternal) of the groom to female
house. After the acceptance of the proposal, the parents of
both male and female meet formally to make an agreement
regarding the details of the wedding. The formal ceremony is
announced and then all family members (groom family) visit
the house of the girl along-with gifts, cash and other related
items where they are served with Kalasha food including
butter, cheese, bread (tusali) etc and then the guests leave
for their homes (excluding groom). The groom is allowed to
staythere (in-laws home) for some days and develops an
understanding to accept the new environment. He is then
sent back to home with many gifts (5-8 large loafs of walnut
breads) and the date of wedding is finalized by few elders
once the girl reaches to her puberty. A list of item is
prepared and each and every item is carefully calculated as
decided in the bride price. Both the families make visits and
receive one another with great zeal and hospitality. Their
stay is memorable for various activities including dance party
at night as well as services of presented lavish food including
meat, butter, bread and even wine in special cases. All the
members finally perform the ritual of hand kissing and thus
return to their homes back.
The formal wedding rituals start with a prayer in
jistakhan (known as traditional sanctuary). The rituals are
presented in front of lord known as Jistak which to them is
the well-wisher and protector of family and is thus
responsible for marriage, offspring and fertility of the next
couple. The religious preacher i.e. Qazi solemnize marriage
and the preacher with other members of the bride groom
sacrifice an animal (i.e. sheep, or a goat) while a fire is built in
the middle of the hall. The sacrifice of the animal is
performed with the ritual of throwing juniper leaves in the
fire by two men with washed hand and then one among
them cuts down the throat of the animal. The blood of the
animal is picked by a person in their hands, then throws it in
the fire and then sprinkles it on the jestik-han emblem while
at the end, on the faces of both the wedding couple. Besides,
the neck of the animal is separated and a small portion of ear
for putting in the fire known as saurus (purification of the
animal). The ritual is participated by persons where they
offer and pray to god for providing safety, prosperity,
affection and fertility to the new married couple and the
ceremony ends with marriage (shish-istangoce) and the bride
is considered as purified once she washes her hands (up to
elbow), she hold five pure bread (onjestajasoon) in hands.
The preacher (Qazi) burns the juniper leaves in fire while the
bride revolves around the fire for three times. Similarly, the
preacher also cuts the bread into pieces, throws it in the fire
and gives few to the bride to eat and the couple is formally
pronounced as a future husband and wife. The end of the
wedding rituals is an indication for opening a new chapter of
social relationship among the two families and invitation
visits starts with the passage of time, for example a
respondent told that
"After we have pronounced for formal approval of the
husband and wife, both the families give invitation where the
bride family took the lead while the groom family is served
with lavish food, clothes and other facilitation according to
the economic status of the family…..(From field notes R-63P)"
However, the study findings indicates that if a female
become pregnant during courting period, still the marriage is
solemnized and the girl move to their in-laws family. The
practice of such relation is not appreciated but is tolerated
for the sake of their children and the offspring is treated as
legitimate. In such cases, the couple must give a sacrifice of a
goat (in jestk-han), then sprinkle blood in front of family and
villagers to ask for the longevity, prosperity and purity of life.
In case of failure of the sacrifice the couple is thought to
have committed a sin “sisa-istongas” while the new baby is
then treated as illegitimate and cursed.
Wife (already married girl or woman of someone)
Elopement in Kalash
The ethnographic details and field information indicate
that a shift has been occurred among the local community
regarding marriage where the practice of wife elopement (a
contemporary trend) create rivalries and antagonism among
the people. Among the local community, elopement of one’s
wife is a third type of marriage. In such cases, it has been
observed from the field data that a married female leaves
the house of her husband (alive) and elopes with a person to
whom she is in love. Further, it is again to be noted that in
case of second marriage of the female, the first or ex-
husband has the right to claims for bride price (double than
Naz, Sheikh, Khan, Saeed
66
the original or initial payment (i.e. don dond). One
respondent shared the following views;
"I receive the initial payment of my first bride price as 4
bulls, iron dishes 20 in number, jugs (15 in number), 3 kg of
tobacco, rifles (6 in number), 2 kg honey, goats 20 in number,
while 10 kg of wheat which while converted into pebbles is
4+20+15+3+6+2+20+10= 80 item. This is what I have given to
my bride……(From field notes R-56Q)"
The inventory is made with the agreement of both
parties and the number of stones is doubled to establish the
exact price of remarriage (Loude and Lievre, 1988).In
addition, the husband will claim the right of children. If the
new suitor fails to fulfill the doubled inventory, then the wife
is returned (go back) to the previous husband, who possesses
the right to keep her or to sell her off to the best bidder.
Besides, if a husband suspects his wife for adultery, he can
sell her. Adultery on the other hand is looked down upon as
everywhere else in the world, but is not considered a taboo
in the Kalasha community. Unlike other societies, in the
research locality, the honor is associated with family honor
and not with the events. The violation or crossing the limit of
family honor is leading towards complications and even
honor killing as well. For example, one extract from a case
study shows that
"I personally saw the death or killing of a women
belonging to Muslim community when a female eloped with
a male and she was then arrested by her brother from a
nearby village. While bringing her to home, she was shot
dead in the way and her death was announced as natural
(From field notes R-71O)
Furthermore, the field information indicate that in the past, the Kalash was predominately polygamous (Robertson, 1896) and a man having more than one wife was more prestigious andto Levi-Strauss (1969) argument, the existence and possession of several wives symbolizedsocial success and longevity. However, some change in this tradition has now occurred in Kalash and the custom of polygamy is now subjected to some
conditions. Males are allowed to marry second wife in cases
of wife’s (first wife) sterility or when she fails to produce a
male child which is necessary to continue the family name.
The wives often share the same roof and divide the portion
of the house according to their requirement having separate
stores (Robertson, 1896). The elder wife retains the symbolic
privileged position but husbands are more inclined towards
the mother of his heirs. Besides, bigamy is not appreciated
and approved but the person concerned is not alienated
from the society. It is left on the liking of the first wife that
whether she wants to remain with the same man or leave
him. She is partially a free woman, and can marry any
suitable suitor or return to her parent’s house. In case of
having children, she has every right to claim and keep them.
If she plans to marry again, the bride price will be paid to the
father of the bride.
Complications Raised from Muslim-Kalasha Marriages
The ethnographic details and their analysis indicate that various complications do arise in cases of intermarriages among Kalasha female with a Muslimmale. The complications as observed during the field visit included social, cultural, economic as well as religious. In this context, it is obvious that for marrying a male of the Muslim community, a Kalasha female will have to bring change in her religion. She will have to accept
and embraces Islam by replacing her traditional belief
system. In this regard, one of the respondents exclaimed that
Before marriage, I belonged to the Kalasha community
observing traditional practices and cultural ways while there
was strict adherence to the customary festival as well.
However, by the grace of Allah, when I accepted Islam I
changed my life style according to the teachings of Islam.
There were few complications in the initial period regarding
living, observing purdah, and family relations, but now with
the passage of time, things are normal and I am
happy….(From field notes R-3T)
The complications which are overtly observable in the
research community with respect to such marriages (i.e. as
discussed above) including issues in the distribution of
inheritance. The male or female is disassociated by parents
from property rights after marriage and thus deprives him or
her of basic rights. The analysis further shows that with the
birth of a child, parents forgive their daughters and the
relationship becomes normal. The families of the Kalasha
community are as much respected as that of the
bridegroom‘s Muslim families and their relatives and there
are few examples of disputes on inheritance as well as
property among the local people. However, such disputes
have been resolved through the intervention of the local
Jirga.
Another very complicated case which was resolved
through Jirga was about a married woman of Kalash who had
left her husband with a small daughter. The female eloped
with a Muslim community male. The husband (the deprived
one) brought back his daughter according to Kalash tradition.
The girl is now aged twenty one years and is married to a
Muslim male after conversion to Islam. The Girl`s father was
highly frustrated and strongly objected the marriage and
broke off relationship with his daughter. Now the father is
dead, leaving his daughter “chu” and brothers “baya as legal
heirs to his property. The daughter and her husband claimed
their legal share in her father’s property according to Islamic
law. The paternal uncles of the girl took charge of the
deceased property. The case is now under consideration of
the Jirga. However, in actual fact two cultural and social
values and code of conduct are contesting on the basis of
religious ideology, ironically both the parties involved have a
fundamental legitimate ground on the property yet both are
victims. The case involved decision on two points:
1. Whether the girl is entitled to inheritance under
the particular circumstances after being
excommunicated by the father on her getting
married to Kalash Muslim.
2. When the girl is entitled to inheritance under the
common law of land, then who should bear the
expenses incurred on the traditional funeral rituals
following the death.
The claim of the husband is that when his wife is a
Muslim she is entitled to the property under the Muslim law.
This issue was contested by the girl’s paternal uncles
although the Kalash custom is silent on this subject.
Moreover, they agreed to pay the expenses incurred by her
TRADITIONAL WEDDING SYSTEM
67
paternal uncles on the funeral. The case was discussed in the
Jirga for three days but no mutually agreed upon decision
was made. The case was then to be heard by civil court of
Chitral. The purpose of mentioning this particular case
explains conflicts because of identity crisis emerging out of
the relationships of persons belonging to two different
cultural and religious groups. The whole thing was conducted
with a detached approach without the tempers being lost of
any side and in a very peaceful manner. To witness this is
something very rare since we are aware of reactions
regarding such situations in the so called civilized world.
Conclusion
The study concludes that community identity is
associated directly to the lineage or Kam where it decides,
directs and re-redirects all the socio-cultural, religious,
economic and political activities including marriage. The area
under study was predominantly under the control of
centuries old customs and traditions and provided a
normative order which was considered final and
unchangeable. The matters related to traditional wedding
and marriages are carried out under such normative order
whereby the local cultural expectations are given importance
without any slight change. To them the relative cultural
context is of utmost importance than the rest of the things
occurring in the surrounding. The contemporary Kalash has
an exposure to the outside world and particularly of the
youngsters. Such exposure is mostly been supported by
social change and development i.e. modern factors and
trends in the form of educational attainment, easy access to
media and more importantly, the cultural contacts has led
the local people to support and opt for love marriage as well
marriage by elopement. Thus, they had mostly given up the
local and traditional old practices of marriage, selection of
life partners as well as other such practices i.e. funeral and
burial etc.
The information further reveals that majority of the
youngsters are practicing and are in favor of marriage by
elopement. The reason for observing this change is due to
their viewpoint that such a marriage protects them from the
various unreasonable demands and expectations put by their
elders and families. It is less cumbersome for boy’s family as
they don’t have to pay an exuberant bride price that they
might have to pay if a more traditional root of marriage is
employed. Avoiding the extra burden in the form of dowry
and other expenses and complications, it has been found
that youngsters follow an idealistic view in marriage whereby
they prefer to marry for love and not for money.
The study found that marriage as one of the important
aspect of human life leads to the formation of family,
procreation of children and satisfaction of both husband and
wife desires. Along with human facilitation and needs
fulfillment, marriages become a burden over couple and
other family members when they go to the normative order
or compelled by strict customs and traditions. In such
situations, in a traditional marriage, a couple is bound by
customs, traditions and family to stay together thus causing
couples to stay in unhappy marriages and this may present
an outward case of more successful marriage. Contrary to it,
in case of elopement the couple decides more freely to leave
a marriage rather than to stay in unhappy circumstances.
It is also obvious that traditional culture practices will
remain unchanged if the society remains in isolation and
there is no such communication with the neighboring
communities or regions. In other words, such cultures exist
only when there is a specific periphery and are bound to a
specific genealogical territory. In such a relational context,
this study found that with the invent of modern trends such
as education, mass media and exposure of the local people
to other nearby and comparatively modern parts of the
country, a shift has been observed in the wedding and
marriage patterns. The people of researched area are not no
more caged in the clutches of strict and so-called customs
and traditions regarding marriage. Such modern trends have
influenced the way of their lives; their attitudes, approach,
beliefs, class structure, and personality. Ideals and stances
are confronted to continuous change and have been changed
to larger extent that directly or indirectly have changed their
socio-cultural aspects including marriage. A contestation has
also been brought between the liberal and orthodox
behavior while it has been the nature of orthodoxy to
implement primitive, old and traditional way of living and
make a resistance towards change and development.
However, the more liberal forces have established a change
and rhythm among the practices of the area and the
refinement has been formed in the old ways of life to cope
with the demands and requirement of the present day.
This study further concludes that people have been
compelled to leave their cultural setting and in doing so they
are inclined to sustain their traditional culture in a specific
time. But fortunately culture cannot be bounded by the
elements like time and space (Scaff, 2003), though it exists in
an imagined space where people believe that they belong to
the same space by utilizing technology, ideology and media.
Further, all such spaces interact and have created a unique
and distinguished cultural identity. Similarly, it has been
found that Kalash culture is also subjected to various changes
where most of the parents are unable to control inter
marriages amongst the Muslims boys and Kalash girls and
vice versa. The issues related to such acquaintances are tried
to be resolved amicably by the intervention of the elders of
the area and to maintain the smooth process of matrimony.
Naz, Sheikh, Khan, Saeed
68
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... Saudi Arabia, along with other Middle Eastern populations, showed intermediate levels of genetic diversity. Overall diversity was highest among the Biaka Pygmies, reflecting the great genetic diversity retained in Africa, while lower values were seen among the Japanese as previously noted [43], and particularly in the Kalash which show signs of an earlier genetic bottleneck [44] and may be further influenced by their unusual marriage practices which allow women freedom to divorce and remarry [45]. ...
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Massively parallel sequencing (MPS) of forensic STRs has the potential to reveal additional allele diversity compared to conventional capillary electrophoresis (CE) typing strategies, but population studies are currently relatively few in number. The Verogen ForenSeq™ DNA Signature Prep Kit includes both Y-STRs and X-STRs among its targeted loci, and here we report the sequences of these loci, analysed using Verogen’s ForenSeq™ Universal Analysis Software (UAS) v1.3 and STRait Razor v3.0, in a representative sample of 89 Saudi Arabian males. We identified 56 length variants (equivalent to CE alleles) and 75 repeat sequence sub-variants across the six X-STRs analysed; equivalent figures for the set of 24 Y-STRs were 147 and 192 respectively. We also observed two flanking sequence variants for the X-, and six for the Y-STRs. Recovery of sequence data and concordance with CE data (where available) across the tested loci was good, though rare flanking variation affected interpretation and allele calling at DYF387S1 and DXS7132. Examination of flanking sequences of the Y-STRs revealed five SNPs (L255, M4790, BY7692, Z16708 and S17543) previously shown to define specific haplogroups by Y-chromosome sequencing. These define Y-haplogroups in 62 % of our sample, a proportion that increases to 91 % when haplogroup-associated repeat-sequence motifs are also considered. A population-level comparison of the Saudi Arabian X-STRs with a global sample showed our dataset to be part of a large cluster of populations of West Eurasian and Middle Eastern origin.
... Saudi Arabia, along with other Middle Eastern populations, showed intermediate levels of genetic diversity. Overall diversity was highest among the Biaka Pygmies, reflecting the great genetic diversity retained in Africa, while lower values were seen among the Japanese as previously noted [43], and particularly in the Kalash which show signs of an earlier genetic bottleneck [44] and may be further influenced by their unusual marriage practices which allow women freedom to divorce and remarry [45]. ...
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Massively parallel sequencing (MPS) of forensic STRs has the potential to reveal additional allele diversity compared to conventional capillary electrophoresis (CE) typing strategies, but population studies are currently relatively few in number. The Verogen ForenSeq™ DNA Signature Prep Kit includes both Y-STRs and X-STRs among its targeted loci, and here we report the sequences of these loci, analysed using Verogen’s ForenSeq™ Universal Analysis Software (UAS) v1.3 and STRait Razor v3.0, in a representative sample of 89 Saudi Arabian males. We identified 56 length variants (equivalent to CE alleles) and 75 repeat sequence sub-variants across the six X-STRs analysed; equivalent figures for the set of 24 Y-STRs were 147 and 192 respectively. We also observed two flanking sequence variants for the X-, and six for the Y-STRs. Recovery of sequence data and concordance with CE data (where available) across the tested loci was good, though rare flanking variation affected interpretation and allele calling at DYF387S1 and DXS7132. Examination of flanking sequences of the Y-STRs revealed five SNPs (L255, M4790, BY7692, Z16708 and S17543) previously shown to define specific haplogroups by Y-chromosome sequencing. These define Y-haplogroups in 62 % of our sample, a proportion that increases to 91 % when haplogroup-associated repeat-sequence motifs are also considered. A population-level comparison of the Saudi Arabian X-STRs with a global sample showed our dataset to be part of a large cluster of populations of West Eurasian and Middle Eastern origin.
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Gender disparity is no limited to a specific region, society or culture, but in-fact it is a global and universal matter of concern (Naz and Rehman, 2011). History shows numerous miseries in which the severe one is gender disparity and inequality (Khan, 2011). The current research study persists to explore gender based discrimination in occupational decision making process in a typical traditional society of Pakhtuns of Malakand KPK Pakistan. The study overtly describes women's deprivation and subjugation with respect to their occupational decision-making. The was undertaken in Batkhela (capital of District Malakand "former Malakand Agency"), Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan and the data was collected from 200 respondents including both male and female through stratified random sampling technique and pre-determined interview schedule for data collection. The collected information has been analyzed in the form of tables, charts and findings have been verified through applying Chi-Square test. In addition, the study has been framed in the light of Marxist Feminism, which reflects a strong relation between the ethnography of the area and the collected information in respect of occupational role. Resultantly, the study reveals that the process of occupational decision-making is extremely gendered biased that is caused by the practice of patriarchy, male dominance, customary law and rigidity of Pakhtun social organization.
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