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: residence after marriage
medium: notes
ethnicgroup: Zemi
person: Graham Bower/ Ursula
date: 1937-1946
person: private collection
text: Residence and place of cohabitation
text: Husband and wife live in the same house. A young couple do not usually have a separate house, but the bride lives with her parents-in-law, while the groom lives more or less as he did when a bachelor, visiting his wife at night and more or less by stealth. As they grow older and more accustomed to the married state the husband sleeps regularly in his parents' house. Bride and groom must visit her parents for one night after staying five days in the groom's village, after the day he brings his bride home. Generally the young couple sleep in the back room of the house, as they "feel shame" at sleeping in the same room as the older couple. At first the couple occupy the same bed, but as they grow old they have separate beds. After a while the young couple may build a house of their own, especially if there are younger sons to be married. Cohabitation usually takes place in bed at night; it is prohibited for a month after the birth of a child, and during that month the couple must sleep on separate beds. It is also prohibited during the five days of the harvest genna, when the sexes must sleep and eat separately. A man will refrain from intercourse before setting weirs and traps for a fish-poisoning, or he will get no fish, before catching the mithan at the first harvest genna or he will be injured. If he has intercourse with a menstruating woman, he lays himself open to being killed by tigers, speared in a quarrel, etc.