Notes on the types and causes of Polyandry

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Polyandry is a form of marriage in which one woman marries more than one man at a given time. The practice of polyandry is very rare these days; it is thought to be practiced among the Bahama of Africa, Marquesan Islanders of Polynesia and The Tibetans. In India from the Hindu mythology we learn that five pandavas had married Draupadi. Even some tribes like the Toda, the Kota, the ladakhi Bota and some ancient tribes also practice polyandry. Polyandry is of two types namely,

(I) Fraternal polyandry or adelphic and

(ii) Non-fraternal polyandry.

(i) Fraternal polyandry:

It is that type of polyandry in which one wife is regarded as the wife it all brothers who have sexual relation with her. Among the Today’s polyandry is fraternal.

(ii) Non-Fraternal Polyandry:

The non-fraternal polyandry is a form of marriage which allows a woman to marry more than one man at a time and her husbands are not related to each other as brother. Thus, in non-fraternal polyandry a woman has several husbands, who are not brothers. In some primitive tribes, the wife visits from husband to husband to satisfy their sex urge by turn. The child born of this sort of union is regarded as the child of the husbands only after performing certain rituals. This type of marriage is found among the Nairs of Kerala.

Causes of Polyandry:

Of course, it is not an easy task to give a generalised picture of the causes of polyandry. Still this form of marriage depends upon certain peculiar local conditions .These is as follows:-

i) Scarcity of women:

Polyandry is found in such communities where the woman population is less than male population. Due to the shortage or scarcity of women a number of men are required to marry one woman. The Todas of Nilgiri Hills practice polyandry due to this reason.

ii) Social Customs:

In some communities polyandry is practiced from time immemorial. It is a custom marriage to them. In Ladakh, for example, polyandry is practiced. Here, woman popularly outnumbered men still the people of Ladakh follows polyandry custom of marriage.

iii) Extreme Poverty:

There exists a close connection between poverty and polyandry. The condition extreme poverty may not permit a man to have more wives or even one wife. Under circumstances he may prefer to polyandry. That probably the reason that in western poor people practice polyandry and rich polygamy.

iv) Bride Price:

High demand of bride-price in some tribal communities is also the cause of polyandry. Owing to the poor economic status a single man fails to arrange the bride price independence hence, the numbers of men collectively arrange bride price and marry a woman.

v) Desire to keep the property intact:

It is said that Ladakhies marry one women just to avoid the division of their Ian property a and houses. The poor people of Ceylon practice polyandry because every far cannot afford to split up into smaller units. Thus, the practice of polyandry is motivated by desire to keep the property intact and to maintain the strength and power of the joint family

vi) Desire to control population:

It is an admitted fact that a single woman bears a limited children. Under polyandry many men marry a single woman. As the children producing capacity of a women is limit hence, polyandry is a very effective method to the people who desire to keep the population under control.


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