The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

miscellaneous papers, notebooks and letters on Nagas by Ursula Graham Bower, 1937-1947

caption: conditions of marriage
caption: elopement
medium: notes
ethnicgroup: Zemi
person: Graham Bower/ Ursula
date: 1937-1946
person: private collection
text: The above-mentioned ceremonies are those customary in a formal marriage, generally between families of some standing, and they are also observed when the marriage has been arranged by the parents, the bride and groom merely consenting. When a young couple marry for love, the price may be paid later or waived altogether. Sometimes it is put off for eight years or so, and if it is still unpaid, or only part-paid, there is a formal meeting to decide the matter. Elopement is not uncommon, the couple occasionally leaving the dekachang where they have been courting and going together to the boy's parents' house, if he lives in the same village; the girl then sleeps there. Occasionally, if parents put difficulties in the way, the pair may run away from the village. In any case, if the girl has slept even one night in the boy's house, even though he did not sleep with her, she is no longer an unmarried girl, and if she returns to her parents must sleep in their house and may not dance or sleep in the dekachang.