Alternate Sexuality Traditions 3 - The Lushai Tribe

Before reading the alternate way of life, it is important to note that this state has among the highest literacy rates in the country, everyone lives in a well constructed home and the community is extremely well bonded. The alternate way of life : (from various articles) "Great freedom of intercourse is allowed between young men and girls. There are no penalties for sexual or romantic mingling unless the girl gets pregnant in which case the man responsible is required to pay “Sawnman”. One of the chief amusements of young people is courting and they may engage in that without any intention of marriage and this is perfectly permissible. A young man visits the girls home at 6 pm (sunset is at 4pm) and after engaging in chit chat for a few days, the man may begin to court the girl. This entails suggestions that they should help each other in their work and occupation. In the course of courtship if the girl finds the man to be a suitable prospective husband she yields to his advances and they sleep together. The man visits her every night after the parents got to sleep and the girl leaves the door open and waits for him in the verandah. If the girl’s parents become aware of this liaison they wait up one night and surprise the couple and demand that the boy pay “Khumpuikaiman”. The boy must either pay this or wed the girl. An alternate situation may arise. A boy might claim that he has been sleeping with the girl but cannot prove it. In this case the girl might claim a “defamation fee” that is predecided by the clan. In order to avoid falling into this awkward situation, a boy usually brings along a male friend  - a Puarak - whose main role is to witness the consummation so that he has proof of the act and he will not be required to pay the fine in case the girl makes a wrongful claim" In present day Mizoram too these customs prevail. In case a girl is pregnant and the couple decide not to marry, a fee of Rs. 400 is payable by the boy. (This was recently increased from Rs.40 by the church) Women carry the burden not only of raising children but also of earning for the family. My minimal conversations with a few people led me to believe that marriage would simply result in the woman having to feed one more mouth - that of the husband - and so while babies made sense, taking on a husband did not. This is an alternate world of social and sexual traditions. Many - especially people from other parts of India might frown upon these customs. But India is a free country. And frowns do not translate into legislature. Where laws are bent to take into account regional diversity. And social arrangements such this do not need to grovel before the state for acceptance. p.s. I received an email saying that these practices are pre-colonial and no longer active..... jm March 2012 Other similar articles : Alternate Sexuality Traditions 2 - The Tibetans Alternate Sexuality Traditions 1 - The Khmers


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