Preferential marriage, as is clear by the title, is the marriage custom in which some males or females are preferred for establishing matrimonial relationships such cases the marriage is a means for uniting two families, for welfare of both.

The preference is clearly based upon certain advantages concerning new relationship and adjustment and respect in the new family. The rules of preferential mating are however customary and not written. Preferential marriage may be seen in the following four forms:

1. Cross cousin marriage

In this type, marriage between children or real brother and sister are preferred. The children among them are cross cousins. In India such marriage are prevalent among the Kuki tribe of Manipur. Among Gonds this type of marriage is almost compulsory. According to Grigson, 54 per cent Gond marriages are of this type.


Similar custom is prevalent in Kharia, Oraon, Khasi, Kadar tribes, the Mikir tribe of Assam and the Bhils of M.P.etc. In M.P. in some tribes, this type of marriage is so much preferred that if it does nor materalize, the other party has to pay compensation for it.

Among Gonds, this custom is known as returning of the milk meaning that the bride price paid to a wife’s family is returned by it. Thus a person who marries in a family gives his daughter in marriage to that family so that the balance is restored.

2. Parallel Cousin marriage

When the children of two brothers of sisters marry, it is known as parallel cousin marriage, in this sort of marriage the boy and girl are either children of some brothers or some sisters. Such marriages are prevalent among Muslims and sanctioned by their religion. It is however generally prohibited in Indian tribes. In Arabia such marriages are prevalent.


3. Levirate and sororate

Another type of preferential mating may be observed in the form of levirate and sororate. In the former a man marries the sister of his wife after her death; in the latter a man marries the wife of his elder brother if she becomes a widow. This is known as junior levirate. It is however also possible between the elder brother and the widow of younger brother. This is known as senior levirate.

When the marriage with the sister of the wife is performed while she is living, it is known as simultaneous sororate. On the other hand, if the marriage is performed after the death of the wife, it is known as restricted sororate. Both these types of marriages are prevalent particularly due to economic and compassionate reasons.