THE MATRILINEAL SOCIETY OF MEGHALAYA

  • A tribal council’s order not to issue a Scheduled Tribe (ST) certificate to any Khasi person who adopts the surname of his/her father.
  • The Khasi is an indigenous tribe of Meghalaya numbering about 1.39 lakh.
  • They are of the three matrilineal communities of North-east besides the Garo and Jaintias.
  • Following the matrilineal law of inheritance, the youngest daughter of the house will stay with the parents and inherit the house that is named after her mother.
  • The husband is expected to leave his house and live with his wife in his mother-in-laws house.
  • Currently around 85% of the Khasi tribe adhere to Christianity.
  • However, they still practice their traditional religious beliefs and practices.
  • The Khasi people are divided into several clans but united by the Mon-Khmer language

What is the controversy?

  • The Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council (KHADC) directed the headmen of all villages and urban localities across the Khasi domain not to issue ST certificates to those who adopt their father’s surname instead of sticking to tradition by taking their mother’s clan name.
  • Also, that it is mandatory for any Khasi woman who marries a non-Khasi man to obtain the Khasi tribe certificate for applying for the ST certificate for her children.
  • However, the Men’s rights activists among the Khasis have been fighting for switching over from the matrilineal to the patrilineal system since the 1960s.
  • Therefore, the recent dictate of the Hill council has refreshed the disagreement among the supporters of Matrilineal and Patrilineal system.

What is a Matrilineal Society?

  • It is a group of people who adhere to kinship in which the ancestral descent is traced through maternal (mother side) rather than paternal (father side) lines.
  • Therefore, when the individuals are related as kin through the female line of descent, they are known as matrilineal descendants.
  • Polyandry (i.e., a woman having more than one husband) is a common feature in the Matrilineal Society.
  • Following Charles Darwin theory of evolution, many researchers have asserted that the matrilineal civilizations existed prior to patrilineal societies and represented an earlier evolutionary state than the patrilineal societies did.

SOURCE: THE HINDU, THE ECONOMIC TIMES, PIB

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