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The word "zha:Nl" is used both for marriage and bride. At some place bride is called "hilal". The date for marriage is set by the mutual consultation of the sides of bride and bridegroom. The preferable time for it is autumn season when food grain, butter oil and dry fruits are available. Marriages take place in simple manners. There is no custom of big dowries. Dowries do not affect the status of a bride. A wedding procession goes to the house of bride a day ahead of the actual marriage and stay there over the night. Previously, the relatives of the bride would overturn water from water pitchers over the women coming with the wedding processions. Now this custom has mostly been given up. Ten to twenty kilograms of flour and the needed butter oil is fetched from the house of bridegroom which is used in cooking "bai" (cooked flour and butter oil added to it) for women during the night. Men say in "hujras" where wrestling and poetry singing is held but this tradition is also fading. Their wrestling tricks resemble with those of Afghans across Waziristan and Khyber. In Kolai, the bridegroom's side brings their own tobacco for smoking at the bride's house and they are responsible to provide enough tobacco for people's smoking during that night. The bride's side makes their maximum efforts to ensure that their tobacco goes wasted as much as possible.
On the day of wedding, the bridegroom is dressed in usual dress and no particular dress is made for him. Traditionally it is considered bad. The bride's side serves food after performance of "nikah". The bride keeps wailing till the performance of "nikah" and sending her off. In such a wailing, anxieties are expressed over separation with father, brothers and sisters. "Nikah" is performed in front of a Jirga. Usually, red clothes are made for the bride and ordinary silver jewlries. Dowry is given as much as one could afford. There is no custom of applying henna to hands nor is there any wedding cradle (palki). The bride would be carried in a crowd of women if the bridegroom's house was on a large distance. If the house is near, then either her brother or her real paternal or maternal uncle can lift her to there. When the bride would put her step into the house of her parents in law, rice and green grass khabal) would be showered at her which symbolically mean richness and fertility. After this she is made to sit in the corner of a room already prepared for her and either a book of Kuran or a child upto the age of one year, is place in her lap. This custom is in practice among the Baloches also.
A Tentative List of an Ordinary dowry
· A pair of thick silver wrist rings,
· Two to nine pairs of dresses and shawls,
· A silky embroidered shawl (a:go),
· Bed spreads (only for bride),
· Twenty to thirty plates (phulo ta:le),
· Twenty to forty combs,
· Reels of white and red thread,
· Twenty to fifty handkerchiefs (half yard each),
· Cloth for the dresses for parents in law and brothers in law,
· Ten to thirty loaves of "darbesh",
· Forty kilograms of "amluk",
· Forty kilograms of walnuts
The food served in wedding is called "nika:e Tikki". To prepare this food, two to five big cattle are slaughtered. Generally, meat is cooked in a simple way without adding any pepper, spices or salt to it. Pure butter oil is poured on the curry. Maize bread is cooked for eating but now wheat and rice are also available. Cooked meat is given to every person in his hand during the eating. There is no distinction in the amount and nature of food served to elders, youngers or women. However, men are served first and the women later.
The bridegroom's milk and blood kins present with male goats and/or bullocks at his wedding. A maternal uncle would usually present with a bullock. The turban exchange (laTi badal) associates present with a male goat or a bullock and they receive more hospitality than others. Ordinary visitors are seen off after serving the wedding food. But those who may have presented with a male goat or a bullock are seen off one day later than them after serving a special feast to them. The people presenting with a male goat or a bullock, come in a group consisting five to ten persons. The traditional bond of friendship is renewed at such occasions and a new turban is placed on each other's head.
The sending off of the relatives on the side of parents in law and the women kins such as father's sister (phupi), aunt, aunt's daughters, real and step sisters, nieces and grand daughters, etc. is also in a different way than the usual women. They are given new cloth, meat and other items at the time of their taking off so that their image goes up with their parents in law reminding them at the same time that these women are not without their supporters.
Sometimes, the wedding procession has to take a stop for ten days or more or less. It happens so when the house of the bridegroom's father's or mother's close kin is located on their way. In such cases, the host would prefer to stop the wedding procession at his place for at least one day instead of presenting with a male goat or a bullock.
Such occasions of weddings and death ceremonies afford an opportunity to strengthen internal terms, cooperations, contacts and integrated exchange of thoughts, getting together, potentials for compromises, brotherhood, closeness and renewal of social bonds between the households and tribes.
Some particular social activities which might take place at such moments, are as below:
· It is a time to eliminate grudges among the people of one's own castes or tribe. Efforts are made to bring the unhappy person home at any cost. Coming to one's home means that there are no more bad feelings for each other.
· Terms are strengthened with the blood kins and the marital relatives (nanihali rishte). Their economic burden is reduced due to the help received from relatives. They also get a feeling of the extent of generosity and financial ability of their paternal and marital relatives.
· People get an opportunity to talk out their matters at tribal or regional level. Particularly women are benefitted much of exchanging their experiences and thoughts with the women of other castes and tribes.
· Any body can attend a wedding. There is no restriction on it. However, one who does not come to attend a wedding, is disliked.
· A better food and more meat is available for people to eat.
· The tribes and castes can have small meetings and an opportunity for future planning.
· The relatives living far off, can get chances to visit each other.
Weddings, Activities, Attitudes
Betrothal: Betrothal is done at small age. Polygamyism is common but the examples of having one wife are also not out of sight. The oldest man in the household i.e. the head, has the power to decide about matches. Consultations are taken with wives about domestic matters but the man has the final authority of decision. The first priority in engagements is real cousin sisters and brothers and then close blood kins, i.e. among the generations, "miras" or other relatives within the same branch. Marriages within the close generations are considered more durable and beneficial. Therefore, more priority is found in marrying inside the relatives of the same racial circles (nasbi daire). In the past, due to these reasons, marrying out of their own circles had been of no priority among the tribes of Kamin, Yashkun and Shin. Help is taken in suppressing feuds and straightening out other matters by commencing marriages with the people pertaining to close generations. Such a tribal environment is needed also in order to keep enmities with the blood kins at low level and prevent any potential disputes about resources. It helps keep the tribal strength united. The local people call it "nasab boho:n" 'weaving kins together'.
I visited a man's house to attend the "fa:teha" (a popular custom of visiting bereaved families, praying there for the salvation of the dead person and to share the sorrowful moments) of his wife. He told me that due to his wife's death one part of his relatives had been dissociated with him. In other words, he had been deprived of the help from his wife's blood kins.
One can understand such feeling and reasons from the incidents like the above. Economic status is not given importance in choosing marriage matches within the same blood kins and castes. Perhaps it is so because communal prestige in marriages is established by association of blood and group kinships and not on the basis of wealth or poverty. Two factors are considered in case of choosing matches outside the blood circles. Firstly, already existing 'milk relationship' and secondly, nature of local terms with the family.
This situation is quite common in Kolai, Palas and Jalkot. There are few incidents of divorces. In case a woman is divorced, then choosing of mates for marriages does not happen between them for several generations.
Engagements are made by two ways: by exchange (badali) and by payment which is known as "Zab" (payment by the bridegroom for taking the girl into marriage. The word "lab" is used for it among Marree tribes of the Baloches). Age of the girl is taken into consideration in settling engagements by exchange. If both the girls for exchange are in the same age, then an equal "mahr" (wedding money to be paid by bride groom to the bride) is appointed, and if there is a big difference in the ages, then either two girls are exchanged for one or one girl and some "Zab" is attached to it. Age difference matters less if marriage mates are chosen by this way within the "miras".
In the old times, small amount were fixed and paid as a "Zab". Nowadays, this amount has gone up from Rs.20000 to Rs.100000. Sometimes, some marriages result into family repulsions also but the chances of divorce are very few among them. Generally, a co-wife is brought on the top of first wife.
Previously, the money received as "Zab" was spent on the purchase of clothes and jewelries for the bride, cooking of food to marriage attendants and to meet other expenses. Since the amount of "Zab" is higher now, it is spent on other matters also. Same situation is found among the rural Pathans also.
At the time of engagements, generally the amount to be paid by the side of bridegroom is set in three categories: "Zab"(wedding compensation), "phuRo"(token money) and "mahr"(wedding money). The money as "Zab" is received at the time of commencing a marriage and the "PhuRo" money at the time of betrothal while "mahr" is considered the bride's right. The age of the bride matters greatly even if a girl is chosen only on the basis of paying "Zab". The amount goes up or down according to the extent of her age. Ten to forty thousand rupees are fixed as "Zab" in case of match makings merely on this basis inside one's own blood kins or with the real male or female cousins. This money is used to buy clothes and silver jewlries for the bride. Those who charge more money as "Zab" plead that this way the side of the bridegroom would bear in mind that the girl was not received free (in other words, they would care for her and give her importance). But the ways they spend the money of "Zab" refute what they claim in their saying. There is a plenty of condemnation on the custom of "Zab" in Shina sayings and some folk songs whereby it is considered bad.
The sides of the bride and bridegroom may have already agreed about the engagement which is usually kept secret until its formal commencement so that it is not sabotaged by someone. When the needed matters are finalized, then the side of the bridegroom come alongwith the Jirga of a few people and the engagement takes place formally. The side of the bride can not cancel the engagement by any means after its formal commencement. The girl fiance hides her face from her fiance, parents in law, brothers in law and from their daughters till her marriage.
The Fire Place
A fire-place holds an important place in joint family system where every one gets a place to sit around it according to one's status. Moreover, certain responsibilities are performed over the fire-place. A simple test can also be made at a fire-place, of a household, particularly of the ability and experience of a daughter in law. If it is considered with reference to children, it is here where their training and guidance begins. We would like to present a somewhat semi analyzed report of a daughter in law as below:
· The order for sitting around the fireplace completes by men sitting consistently from one end and the women from another end. The oldest man and women in the household sit on two extreme edges. These edges are thought of as symbols for authority. Usual instructions, serving of food, management of light and fuelwood, guidance and scolding mostly take place from here. Usually, parents are sitting around here regardless of what sort the household is of. The elder daughter is sitting next to the mother and then the next elder daughter and so on. The youngest daughter is generally in the lap of someone sitting near the mother. On the other extreme edge is sitting a father (or the father's father). Next to him is the oldest son and then the next oldest. One can say from this arrangement of the sitting that even sittings around the fire-place are not done without an order. Except for the daughter in law, all these people sit around the fire-place in such a way that if a line is drawn all of them would seem to have sit in a circle without any particular difference in the distances between them. Contrary to this, the daughter in law is sitting outside the circle i.e beyond the circular line. The question arises her in the mind if the daughter in law is not considered a member of the family or are there some other communal and cultural reasons for it. We frankly asked questions on this topic from our relative women and their comments are as below:
· Traditionally a daughter in law sit in the back as long as her husband sits around the fire-place with his father or grandfather. She implies by her sitting in the back that she is not equal to her husband.
· The daughter in law is responsible for domestic task. By sitting in the back she is able to fetch things quickly for other members.
· The daughter in law is considered an alien person and she also thinks of herself as an alien to the family for a considerable time which have been depicted in many folk proverbs also.
· The communal and cultural manners (due to social etiquettes and observation of veil), the daughter in law can not sit equally in the line as long as the husband is sitting there. It depends also on the fact if the mother-in-law or some other elder woman is present at home or not. If she is not at home, then she can sit in the line. But in this case, she would be sitting at her mother-in-law's place. In other words, the place of sitting around the fire-place determines it whether the daughter in law is autonomous or under the influence of her mother-in-law.
The places of the mother and the father are let to others to sit on under a very few circumstances or probably it is never done so for anyone. At rare occasions, the father offers his place to a very close relative man to sit on. Since both of them (the father-in-law and the mother-in-law) have a role of being a host, they can play this role better by sitting at their specified places.
When the husband goes out to a "hujra" or somewhere, then the daughter in law sits as par with the other family members. It means that in a Shin culture, the daughter in law has to care for the communal and cultural manners and her role and place can be perceived within the perspective of these limits.
Terms and Attitudes
The internal domestic management and arrangements are in the hands of the oldest woman at home. She can be either mother-in-law or a wife of an elder brother. The external matters are in the hands of the head of the household i.e. a man. These matters are brought under mutual discussions also at home when needed and some matters are known only to one or two persons at home. The internal jobs are generally specified by the mother-in-law and if there is no mother-in-law, then things are taken care of with cooperation. A new bride faces many difficulties in accommodating with the women already present in the new family. The bride could be conceived of being a lucky woman or a curse for the family depending on the situation. Serving of food is done by mothers in law and food is served to elder men first, then to children and finally to daughters in law and other women. Generally, it is the men or boys who get better food. The reason for it is prestige for men in good health and the wish of keeping the boys strong for traditional wrestling with the other boys of their age. The dress has also been found better with the men first and then mother and then the other women. If there exists only one daughter in law and one mother-in-law in the family, the daughter in law would pick the tougher jobs and the mother-in-law would do the ones which take less energy. The tough jobs include those of getting maize ground at the water mills, fetching fuelwood from the forests, churning milk, clearing dung, mud plastering, dish and clothes washing, agricultural tasks and shifting domestic items during seasonal migration and so on.
The mother of the daughter in law plays a big role in forming her daughter's attitude towards her mother-in-law and it is this attitude whereby good or bad feelings would develop for the daughter in law. Generally, naive acts of the daughter in law are kept concealed from other people so that image could be saved with the blood kins and within the caste keeping up with the "bilo:S" and "pechtob". The daughter in law can visit only those who are close blood kins or close marital relatives of her husband or their "mahrim" (religiously specified relationships restricted from marrying each other). The girls can maintain their friendship with their friend girls as long as they do not get married. After the marriage, usually they cannot visit each other. Sometimes, some traditional cures are also made for the daughter in law. If something tragic happens to the household right after marriage, the daughter in law is perceived to be a "shaka:l" (unlucky and causing bad luck to others). Among the women in the household, maximum respect is given to the grandmother and then to the mother.
After a few months from the marriage, the daughter in law is brought for "satmogi" (seventh day). She spends a few months with her parents and she takes many things at the time of her return, like food grain, butter oil, male goat or a bullock.
Polygamyism is common among the Shins. Two causes may be found basically behind the practice of polygamyism. The other forms of polygamyism are by-products of these causes
These conditions and causes show why there is a high trend of polygamyism among men. There is some traditional rules and restrictions for polygamy. There is no restriction for marrying a second woman if the couple does not have male children. Similarly there is no restriction on marrying a second woman if it is a widow of a brother (if he is dead).
But there are some conditions for men to have a second marriage without a need for it. But at most times, these conditions are overlooked and may problems are created from it.
Among the Shin tribes, marrying with the brother's widow is considered to be a hereditary right. She is not permitted to remarry with any one other than the brother of her deceased husband or outside his blood kins unless this condition was waived at the time of her first marriage. Marrying a widow is considered to be an important compulsion which is done with by both man and woman. Women denounce it by calling it "hat phuTi SakeR ayon", a broken arm reaching to the neck. In such cases, no thought is given to age factors of the couple. As for as I have been able to understand, there are four main factors behind the motives of marrying a widow or considering her a hereditary right for centuries. These factors are related with "bilo:C (sense of honour), economy, heritance of the dead man and care of home and children, etc.
· Fear that opponent will get stronger and the risk of losing support from the widow's kins.
· Widow's right to inheritance in the property of her husband. Moreover her children with the second husband can also demand their share. It can lead to more disputes. It has happened in the past during the Wesh process where the women were entitled to a "Tago" that was received by her husband (after her death).
· Importance of the children's care, agricultural work, seasonal migration and other domestic jobs.
Acquisition of Opposite Sex
The brother of deceased husband or the next most closely related blood kin will have the right to marry with the widow. Sometimes disputes come up in case the deceased man has two real cousins (sons of father's brother) born with two different uncles, and no real brother. In many such cases, examples have been found where matter was resolved on the basis of draws. Here again, the spirit of "biloS" exists behind execution of draw to show that one did not give up his right for nothing. But he failed in the draw and lost his luck.
All the above situations change altogether in case the widow has a grown up adult son. In such a case, the son makes a decision for his mother. One woman told me that:
"When I was married I was hardly 14 years. I became a widow in the age of 25. After five years, my brothers in law wished me to remarry any one of them but my son was getting adult. He did not allow his uncle to remarry me. After this, my son restricted me from putting on new clothes also lest my brothers in law get suspicious of my integrity. My household gave their all help and support to me and my son in this matter. I am living with my son in his house since then and my son is very sincere and honest to me. He had not permitted his uncles to remarry me because his own terms were not good with them and in case any one of them remarried me, it would have been hard for my son to handle a few matters with them and I would become an obstruction for him all the time."
If a person remarries a woman hoping for male children and if one has no children from the first wife, then again there is no traditional restriction or condition on marrying a second woman. How consultations in this regard are made with the parents of the first wife or they are taken into confidence because generally marriages take place in one's own caste. In this case, the man can not succeed to marry a close paternal or maternal relative of the first wife. In case of second marriage without a necessity without taking the father or brothers of the first wife into confidence, the man has to tender his formal apology under the tradition of "dar" (taking a small Jirga to the father-in-law's house alongwith a goat or a bullock and seek an apology. The goat and bullock are slaughtered to cook food for the Jirga and other people).
The daughter in law's status goes on changing in the household depending on her bearing more and more children and on her age. She could influence decision making at home as her sons become adult. But it happens at a later stage when she herself is close to beco- ming a mother-in-law. In other words, the power and status of the daughter in law increase as she gets older.
The Traditional Punishment to a "chor"
The Shin tribes are romantic by nature. The songs of natural environment and romanticism are abundantly found in their folk poetry. Harsh traditional punishments are found to keep this romanticism under control which are commonly enforced.
In order to prevent and suppress this kind of romanticism, there exists a strong traditional punitive system with its scopes and limitations discouraging the practices of the custom of "chor" among Shins, "tor" among the Pukhtoon community, "siah kari" among the Marree Baloches and "kari" among the Sindhis. Heated by the sense of honour, the execution of these punishments is deemed to be the actions of honour.
According to the Shin perception, one who has a sense of honour, would also be an honest person and vice versa. In other words, to them sense of honour is a foundation for honesty or faith and the one who has sense of honour, would be able to carry on with "bilo:S". It shows that there are some rules lying behind "bilo:S", i.e. sense of honour, faith and willingness to fight or argue.
Such a man or woman is called a "chor" who go with secret affairs. They are considered inexcusable criminals. Only the way to death is open to them or their luck, if they have already escaped. But they are still unsafe. Many such an individuals have been killed in the down country
Under such a harsh conditions, the traditional law of the Shins assigns the level of a right between the husband, brother in law, father-in-law, or that woman's brother, father and cousin under which they can punish the "chor" man and woman for their crime. This division of eligibility to punish, can be better understood by three references, i.e.
· Punishment to a married woman
· Punishment to an engaged woman
· Punishment to a non-engaged woman
Although the scope and the right assigned between the brother and the husband to punish a "chor" woman have traditionally been defined but generally husbands have been found trespassing their limits and they sometimes use the right of the father or the brother of their wives too and later on make for it by acting on the custom of "dar". Probably it is so because a husband gets a sole acquisition over his wife after the marriage. As the wife is considered a part of the inheritance, her father and brother are left with very little control over her and that also to the extent when a husband would cut her nose without a genuine reason, or break her arm or leg, and so on. They can scuffle with the husband in these situations. But they cannot take any step on their own against the husband in case of his killing or slaughtering her for being "chor". If they do take an action, that could trigger a new enmity.
The killing of the "chor" woman and man is indeed a proof of their crime. Therefore, the heirs of the "chor" woman and man cannot refute it no matter how forceful they are and how weak the husband may be. People do not turn their face from such a crime nor is an FIR lodged in the Police station.
The right to punish a "chor" woman are reassigned again with the parents in law after her marriage. This assignment of right is made between her husband, brother in law or their sons. In the absence of husband, all the powers are transferred to the brother of her husband no matter he is elder or younger than his brother. He uses this right if the time be because there is an implication of "bilo:S" and sense of honour behind it. If the house of the father of the "chor" woman is located nearby, then the husband and his brothers are traditionally bound not to use the right to punish the "chor" woman by themselves but call her father or brother so that they themselves implement the punishment. in case the "chor" man has already been killed, then the heirs of the woman can not demand a logic or proof for doing so because what was done was a demand of the "bilo:S" and it is not asked whether the woman was on falsehood or on truth. Such a woman wishes to be punished by her heirs instead of the husband or his brother. If the house of the heirs of such a woman is nearby, then it is deemed not good leaving her dead body with the household of her husband and the heirs themselves arrange her funeral ceremonies. It is against of the traditions to cry or wail after such a woman. However, the sobbing ounds can still be heard.
One important thing that has also come forth, is that in case of such a woman having an adult son and her husband being either dead or away, the punishment rights can not be shifted to any one else, nor even to the heirs of that woman. I have perceived two basic motives from it. Probably at this stage, the rights to the punishment are diverted to a son. Secondly, although the brother-in-law is a brother of her husband and he has the right to punish her, but in presence of her son, his rights also stand suspended. It is so because although, the uncle and the nephew or two real cousins come from the same kinship, but at the same time, they are competing "pecha" and "bilo:S" runners also and, so their attitude does not remain impartial anymore.
The heirs of the men and women killed this way, do not continue with their bad feelings for each other for a long time and revive their terms again after a short time. If "chors" run away, they are chased. Numerous "chors" who escaped, were later on killed in the urban and rural areas down the country. Till fifty years ago, an example of a compromise with a person of this offence, did not exist. Nowadays, a rare examples are found where a compromise was reached by giving two to four "sowra" (engagement of a girl). The heirs of the woman guilty of such crime and the men of her husband's caste all stay aloof with the guilty man even if they do not have a right to punish them.
If a married woman is killed for having secret affairs and the man succeeded in escaping, then the husband and his brothers have the responsibility of chasing him for punishment. They cannot compromise with that man until and unless they give a girl to the heirs of the woman in return to killing her because in the compromise the man is forgiven and the girl was already dead and now her heirs want a compensation for her. Since the man has been forgiven, the heirs of the killed woman's right to demand a compensation is revived. This is the stage when the household of the husband cannot compromise by bypassing his parents in law. The compromise with the criminal of secret affairs means "chor pak thon" clearing the criminal of secret affairs from the charge.
If the girl is already engaged and she is still living with her father, then "right to punish" does not shift to him. But if the girl has already been killed and the man or the boy has already escaped, then the fiance and the heirs of the girl both have the right to kill her. But if she was already married at the time of her killing while the man had escaped, then only her husband and his blood kins can kill him and the girl's heirs cannot take such step.
In old times, a "chor" woman was slaughtered with a dagger and the man was shot at to death. Now both of them are shot at to death. A woman who was to be punished for secret affairs, wished to her heir to be killed by shooting at her back and he shot her to death by shooting her at her back.
No one give refuge for a long time to the "chor" man and woman who may have escaped. However, if they escaped and seek an asylum with someone, they are escorted to a safe place. Amendments are made as an ongoing process in the punishments of this kind and the new amendment or change becomes a traditional law. It is considered against the traditions to forgive a "chor" but in some particular cases, some way is found for a compromise.
This term of crime is applied on such a man who may have raped a woman or assailed a woman, or pulled off her sheet, or reflected a mirror on her, or sneaked into someone's house in the night or rebuked someone's woman without reason and so on. In Kolai such a criminal is called "tsapre chor" while in Palas and Jalkot "kandre chor". The traditional punishment to such a criminal is not his killing but it is to injure him with a sharp weapon or a bullet. Previously, if some arbiter wanted a compromise for such a criminal, the arbiter would escort him to the concerned people. Their one individual would either break his one leg or injure it with his dagger by blowing it only once. After it they would have reached a compromise.
During the last seven months, there have been about five such incidents here. Here also, the right to impart punishment has been assigned giving it to the husband and his parents. If the woman is married, the responsibility of punishing the "kandre chor" will be of the husband and his brothers and if she is not married yet, then of the parents.
During the past few years, people have taken such steps in punishing the "chors" that were different than the accepted norms. But no one has acknowledged the validity of adopting such a new way of punishment as yet. Ears of four men were cut off in such incidents and they are still arguing that this punishment is against the traditions. Such a punishment is termed in the region as an extra traditional punishment. Those who took these steps argue that the honor of the woman is even heavier and this punishment is still too small. One Iska man was injured by shooting with a gun in this crime and another Youngman who had sustained injuries, has died. The enmity comes to an end after a traditional punishment.
A tradition of forgiveness to a "kadre chor" also exists. For this purpose, he takes use of such a man or household who may be very dear to his opponent's household. Such an arbiter has the “kandre chor” seek forgiveness by doing “dar” of that household and pays them money in cash. Just recently a "kandre chor" pertaining to the Chuthia caste sought forgiveness from his opponent by following the tradition of "dar" and paying a fine of eighty thousand rupees.