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Lushai Marriage and Divorce

In the past, although Lushai young men and women chose their own life partners, the parents investigated the proposed relationship in question in order to see ifthe bridegroom and the bride were related to each other from their paternal sides. If they are related to each other from paternal sides, then marriage between them is completely prohibited, as it is not allowed among the Lushais to establish marital relationship between the paternal relatives, such as paternal cousins.

However, marriage between maternal cousins is allowed. In order words, a Lushai can establish marital relationship with relatives other than the paternal cousins. At present, after converting to Christianity, although they do not have any religious prohibition, they maintain this particular custom of the past. Both in the case of arranged marriage and affair marriage, the bridegroom's party send a 'palai' (mediator) to the bride's family with a marriage proposal. If the parents and the maternal grandparents of the bride agree with this proposal, then they proceed to set the bride price and to fix the date of wedding. Among the Lushais the most important person in the decision-making of marriage is the 'pu' (maternal grandfather); and he is to meet any demands made by his granddaughter.

Around 1951, the bride price was fixed among the Lushais. For example, the bride price of the daughter of 'Sailo' (village headman) was Tk. 300.00, while the bride price of a girl from an ordinary family was Tk. 200.00. In 1953, when the village-headman system was abolished, the bride price of all women was fixed at Tk. 400.00. Among the Lushais, marriage ceremony is held in the bridegroom's house. The bridegroom's party has to pay the bride price few days ahead of the marriage through the palai.

However, nowadays, marriage is solemnised in the church; but the manners and customs have remained the same. For example, a couple of days ahead of the marriage, the bride along with her parents and relatives moves to the residence of the palai to stay there. And the palai offers them a feast by slaughtering a pig. On the day of marriage, the bridegroom and his party go to the house of the palai to get the bride. They visit the bridegroom's house with the bride and then go to the church where marriage formalities are completed. After that, the bridegroom and the bride along other kith and kin go to the bridegroom's house where a feast is arranged. The bride remains in the bridegroom's house on that day.

Within days, the bride returns to the residence of the palai. After staying in the palai's house for some time, she comes back to her husband's house with all her belongings. The palai takes a 'Lai ar' (chicken) while visiting the bridegroom's house with the bride. The bride must take a 'puand dum' (a black sari) with her. It is said that, after the death of her husband, she has to shroud the dead body with this puand dum. According to their social custom, they generally do not arrange any marriage ceremony in the month of August.

Marriage costume: The bridegroom and his friends have to wear their special type of dress and hand-made 'naute kherh puan' (one kind of lungi). On the other hand, the bride and her friends have to wear Puanchei and Kawrchei (tops & thami) designed by themselves. However, at present, the bridegroom and his friends wear shirt and pants, and the bride and her friends wear white gown and scarves.

Widow Marriage:

Widow re-marriage is in vogue among the Lushais. The widow can remarry once the 'lung phun' (gravestone) is planted in the grave of her husband, but not before that.

Divorce:

If a woman leaves her husband without any reason, she will have to return the bride price to her husband. And then she can leave with all her belongings. However, she cannot take her children with her. Conversely, if a man deserts his wife without any reason, he cannot take any of his belongings and his children with him.


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