Monday, February 29, 2016

Marriage by Service: A marriage of difference practiced among Soligas

* Boys work in grooms house for five to 12 years to win hearts of parents
* Soligas ascertain either the boy is eligible to hold their daughter's hand
* The dowry system is absent among the Soligas

Usually arranged marriages are carried out like a business, looking after the job, earnings, assets and debts of a groom and later girls are got married.
Whereas, a unique tradition 'Marriage by Service', followed by tribal community 'Soligas' who live deep inside the forest, seems to be more 'cultured' when it comes to marrying off their daughters.

Under this customs in practice the boy has to stay in the girl's family and work for a minimum of five years, which can sometimes even extend upto 12 years. Only after the girl's parents are satisfied that the boy can look after their daughter properly they give consent for him to tie the nuptial knot.

During the years, parents observe his work attitude, patience, behaviours including caring and affection towards others while evaluating him during his stay. The parents agree for the marriage, only if he is successful in all the test, and wins their confidence. This is a techniques to test the prospective groom to ascertain if he is eligible to hold their daughter's hand.
For instance, if a boy wants to marry a girl, he wants to work in the girls house for minimum five years and complete all the tasks assigned by family members. The boys in the age group of 14 to 25 years render service for minimum of five years. In case, if the parents are not convinced during the period, the boy has to continue work and win the hearts of the elders within 12 years. This is the custom being practiced in their community, and even today about 10 to 15 per cent of 'Marriage by Service' is taking place in the community, says heads of the community.

Dr C Madegowda, who belongs to Soliga Community and has done research on the community people said that only after parents are fully convinced that the boy can look after the girl they agree for the marriage.

In some instances the boy and the girl live together without any formal marriage rituals, but with the consent of both the family elders. The boys in the community have married in the age of 30-35 years under the tradition. This ancient form of marriage still continues among the Soligas as mentioned by the respondents and the tribal elders,” he adds.
'Love marriage or elopement marriage' and 'Marriage by Services' are most practiced among the community tribes, out of four types of marriages practiced. The dowry system is absent among the Soligas; only ‘Tera’ (Process of Agrement) is conducted,' he adds.

Informing about the marriage ritual, he said: 'The marriage ritual is very simple where beetel leaves and Tera (Process of Agreement) is exchanged between parents. This ceremony is witnessed by the local elder or the Yajamana along with four other Nyaya panchayathi or tribal council members in the presence of five members of the clan. They exchange betel leaves and pay Rs 12.25 for the other family and also for the Clan. A small marriage feast is organised for the members of the tribal council, while sometimes for all the people of the hamlet.'

The population of Soligas is more than one lakh in Karnataka, and are located largely in Chamarajanagar district, Mysuru, Veerajpet, Somarpet, Muthathi in Mandya, Kanakapura, Kunigal Taluk in Tumkur, and Ramnagar.

Karnataka State Tribal Research Institute (KSTRI) Director Basavangounda also said that the custom of boy working in girl house is in practice among the community, whereas he is not sure either it is to convince the parents.

Types of marriages:

* Customarily Soligas accept the following types of marriages: Marriage by force; Elopement; Marriage by services, and Negotiated marriage (Morab, 1977). While, presently they are practicising four types of marriages: Love marriage or elopement marriage, Arranged marriage, Kuduvali marriage, and Marriage by services.

* The soliga boy and girls who fall in love and elope to the forests, will be brought back and with the permission of parents they will be got married. A fine of Rs 5.25 to the Clan will be collected stating eloping is wrong.

* In Kuduvali marriage both the boy and girl’s family members and the Clan allow the boy and the girl to live together.

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