Types of Indian Tribal Marriages

Sun, 12/08/2013 - 04:03 -- Umar Farooq

Types of Indian Tribal Marriages

The mode of marriages in Indian tribes is different as compare to the civilized societies. Indian tribal marriages were in practice in the most primitive societies. Following are the types of Indian tribal marriages.

Marriage by Purchases

It is the most common type of marriage in participative societies for securing bride. Here cash money, bride price or compensation is paid to the bride family by the husband side or bridegroom. This money is considered as the wealth of the women for her prestige in society. Some tribal people has the idea that daughter marriage will deprived them from a working member and that price is the work compensation for the bride family. This type of marriage is practiced in santhal, ho, gond of Indian tribes. A though it is primitive type of marriage but is still present in our societies.

Marriage by Service

Here is another type of marriage by service the bride price is not paid in the shape of money but is the form of services. The youth before the marriage gives services to his future father in law for about three to five years. During this period he can meet with girls but cannot enter into sexual relations with her. If the father of the girl was satisfied from the man, then he give his daughter to him otherwise he dismisses the young and give chance to other person. This of marriage is practiced in gond, viga, Lamnai etc.

Ghost Marriage

This is an extreme type of Levirate marriage. If a person dies, his younger brother will marry with the fiancée of his deceased brother. It means that when a person dies before marriage, the younger brother of that deceased person will marry with the fiancée of that person. The younger brother will be considered as the biological father and the Ghost or late brother will be the social father of children. Thus the children will be considered as the children of the deceased brother and also the wife will be considered as the wife of the deceased brother. The Ghost man is also counted in the family.  These are practiced in Sudan where the people believe that in their family, his soul would destroy them. The Muslims also practiced but have no concept of Ghost. Biological father is called pater.

Marriage by Capture

It is also called abduction or marriage when a boy is interested in a girl but the girl's parents are not willing to give her daughter to that boy is marriage. The boy with the help of his family members takes away the girl by force. This type of marriage is practiced in Naga, gord, Bhil, Santhal tribes of India.

Marriage by Elopement by Mutual Consent

When the man and woman wants to marry with each other but their parents are not ready for the marriage. The boy and girl by mutual consent run away and not return till they arrange their marriage. This is common in ho tribe. Although is Pakistani society and in Afghanistan this is also in practice but is considered disgraced to both the families and the eloped pair is killed.

Marriage by Exchange

This marriage is common in poor people who cannot afford the price of dowry. A man gives his daughter, sister or any other relative girls to any other person and in exchange toke a girl from the other side. Both the sides avoids from the bride price or dowry. It is practiced in some tribes of India as well as in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Probationary Marriage

The bridegroom enters into the house of girl for a certain period. During this period they examine, test, each other’s potentialities, courage and understanding. If they were satisfied from one another, they arrange marriage ceremonies, otherwise the man leave the house of the girl by paying some compensation. During this prohibition if a child born, will belong to mother. It is found in Europe and India.

Marriage by Intrusion

Here a girl enters forcibly into the house of her lover bearing all the insults and cruelties. If she does not leave the house for a sufficient period, the boy is socially compelled to marry with her. It is practiced in Ho, Birhor and Oroan tribes of India.

Marriage by Test

A boy is allowed to marry with the girl of his choice after passing special test of his bravery. In Indian tribes these tests are arranged in some special ceremonies. If the boy passes the test, enter into the marriage of choice girl. This is also in practice is Indian tribes.

Levirate Marriage

Levirate means brother of the husband. If a person dies and his wife or widow marry with the deceased younger brother. It is the marriage of a widow with the brother of her deceased husband. This is practiced is santhal, gond Kharia. In Pakistan and Afghanistan it is also found in pukhtoon society. Pukhtoon considered it great insult, when there are brothers and cousins of the deceased person and his widow marry outside.

Sororate Marriage

This is opposite to levirate marriage. When the wife of a person dies, he will marry the unmarried sister of his deceased wife. It means that a person will marry with his unmarried sister in law. If the wife has no sisters, then the person will marry with her cousin and if no cousins the person can marry outside.  It is found in gond, Kharia tribes of India and common among pukhtoon of Pakistan. The philosophy behind that type of marriage is that when a woman dies, she left children and for that children proper love, affection and socialization required. So, the sister of their mother can perform this work very well for they know her form beginning and can give proper affection to them.

Marriage of Women to Women

A women can marry with another woman. One woman becomes husband while the other becomes wife. After marriage the woman husband invites one of the member among her kinship to have sexual relation with her wife. The person will be considered only the biological father of the children while the woman husband will be the social father of the children. It is practiced in Nuer and Zulu tribes of South Africa etc. Hawail tribe (USA).

Cousin Marriage

Here one cousin marry to another. It has the following two types.

  1. Cross Cousin Marriage. A person with the father’s sister’s daughter or with the mother’s Brother’s daughter.
  2. Parallel Cousin Marriage. It is the marriage between parallel cousins like with the father’s brother’s daughter or mother’s sister’s daughter.


When a girl of upper class marry with the boy of lower class is called hypergamy. Girl (upper Class) + Boy (Lower class) = Hypergamy.


When a girl of lower class marry with the boy of upper class is called Hypogamy. Girl (Lower Class) + Boy (upper Class) = Hypogamy