CHAPTER VI: AFFINES, MARRIED DAUGHTERS, MATERNAL UNCLES
The maternal uncles have important ritual obligations in relationship to their ( living in the household), and the affines of the household head are regarded as close He is expected to help and look after his nephews and nieces, if his sister. Around the globe consanguineous marriages have been practised by Most commonly in our part of the world, first cousins — uncle's son However another type of marriage is where maternal uncle marries his niece (sister's daughter). diseases that could affect any part of the body from head to foot. At least three of their six children have a rare neurological illness microcephaly (in which children have unusually small heads) cystic Many wrongly think that maternal cousins are not blood relatives. The Koran allows marriage to anyone but parents, siblings, aunts and uncles, nephews and nieces.
When people have more than one child, this fattens the family tree, creating new relationships like sister and niece and great-aunt and more. For starters, if your parents have additional children besides you, then they are of course your siblings, that is your sisters and brothers: If you and your siblings each have children, then those children are first-cousins of each other. Then, if the two first-cousins each have children, then those children are second-cousins of each other; and their children are third-cousins, and so on: Thus, first-cousins share two grandparents but no parentsand second-cousins share two great-grandparents but no grandparentsand so on.
Thus, children of first-cousins are second-cousins, and children of second-cousins are third-cousins, and so on. In fact, if we regard siblings as 0-level cousins, then this reasoning applies to siblings too: If your cousins have children, then what are they to you?
To see where your second-cousins come from, we have to move one more level up. And their children are your second-cousins: The same pattern continues upwards for all earlier generations.
Siblings of your nth-level ancestors are your great Furthermore, the nth cousins of your mth-level ancestors, and also the mth-level descendants of your nth cousins, are your nth cousins m times removed. This attitude presumably has an evolutionary basis: Well, first of all, about Furthermore, some people may share other genes with us just by chance; for example, if I meet a stranger whose eyes are brown just like mine are, that does not necessarily establish that we are close relatives.
In addition, there is lots of randomness in how genes are passed on each individual gets half of their genetic material from their mother and half from their father, but which bits come from which parent is chosen at random and cannot be predictedso we cannot draw precise conclusions with certainty.
To deal with all of this, we assign to each pair of individuals a relatedness coefficient which represents the expected fraction ie, the fraction on average of their genes which are forced to be identical by virtue of their family relationship. This approach averages out all of the randomness, while focusing on genetic similarities specifically due to family connections.
The mathematics of your next family reunion
According to this definition, strangers have a relatedness of zero the smallest possible value. By contrast, your relatedness with yourself is one the largest possible value. On this day the household abstains from boiled rice also which marks the liminality of the occasion. Later, a procession goes to worship Ganesh, the god who protects the locality, and sacrifices the bahn animals given by the maternal uncles. The maternal uncle and the aunt are the last ones to worship the initiand before the procession sets off to the local Ganesh temple.
The procedure was described to me as follows. The maternal uncle and aunt begin their worship by scattering rice grains and puffed rice over the initiand. They put flowers in his hair and apply tika to his forehead. Then they present him with one piece of cloth on which five rupees and five paisa coins are placed.
Rice and flowers are also given to him, and so is the sagan referred to above. The nephew bows down to the floor, paying obeisance to them. Then the new cloth is put on his shoulder. When this rite has been completed, the participants go downstairs and on outdoors to the Ganesh temple of the locality where the bahn are sacrificed to Ganesh.
In the evening si ka bhu is performed. In this particular si ka bhu the following persons participate: They are seated in the following order: A simple feast is served first. When this has been concluded, one proceeds to take the si. The si for this occasion consists of eight pieces prepared from each of the sacrificed animals. At first he will direct the right eye, which is most valued, to the Gubhaju; then he will take the left eye himself, and then the right ear is given to his nephew, the initiand.
The rest of the goat head can be distributed according to his liking. No prescribed order prevails here. However, my informant said: The nephew of the uncles is indulged to the extent that the ranking normally prevailing is partly bypassed; only the Gubhaju is not bypassed at the taking of si.
This is extraordinary, as seniority tends to be observed very strictly in other ritual contexts, and it expresses the special quality of the avuncular relationship. It reflects the fact that the relationship to the maternal uncle is radically different from those within the household and the phuki, where the child will be on the lowest rungs of the seniority order and is expected to be deferent and obeisant to the senior men.
Although a nephew is expected to respect his maternal uncle, the relationship is not regulated by the strict rules which apply in his relationships to senior phuki members. On the other hand, the relation to the maternal uncle can not be described as a joking relationship.
Indeed, FZH is also called paju, though ninupaju. In a slightly different form of Kyetapuja, also practiced by the Jyapu, one will make fun of the paju. This version of the Kyetapuja follows the same procedures as those accounted for above, but also has some additions.
When the sacrifice to Ganesh is concluded, the party proceeds to the Chaphaphal place name crossroads in the centre of the village. There the Gubhaju makes a large mandala, ritual pattern on the ground. The mandala is worshipped with rice and seven unbroken betel nuts. The boy, or the boys, will be placed in different parts of the mandala. The boys are expected to walk seven steps forward, while the sajipajus remain at the same spot; then the boys dash off to circumambulate certain deities.
As the boys dash off, the sajipajus run after them trying to catch them as best they can. If a maternal uncle succeeds in catching his nephew, he lifts him up and carries him around the God the nephew was attempting to round, and gives him five rupees, or more. If the uncle fails to catch his nephew, he is much chagrined, or at least he pretends to be, and the assembled crowd laughs at him. Sometimes the assembled onlookers will playfully interfere and grab hold of the maternal uncle the very instant he is about to catch his nephew.
He is then provided with the following food items: It is also essential to send with him one leg from a goat, sheep, or buffalo. This leg is known as chaphan, and any leg from the sacrificed animals will do. Before leaving, the maternal uncles and other relatives who stayed the night go to the bholi kotha.
In this room the things used during the Kyetapuja i. There one bows down and offers three to five rupees to the bholis. Then, the bholis will serve some choyala, wa, ayela, and thon and kwala.
During the proceedings of the Kyetapuja one bholi has stayed in the bholi khota all the time.
He has then been in charge of the supplies and of their distribution during the three days the Kyeta puja has lasted. The Kyetapuja of the Uray is different from that of the Jyapu. Unlike the Jyapu the Urays do not sacrifice animals bahn, nor is choyala bhu held in connection with the Kyeta puja. Instead of providing bahn the maternal uncle sends two miniature razors, one of gold lu khaca and one of silver aoh khaca. In the early morning, the Nau comes to shave the head of the initiand.
Before the Nau begins the maternal uncle makes some shaving gestures with the razors he has given. Later a procession is held to the local Ganesh temple. The initiand wears a kyeta a minimal piece of cloth, made of seven pieces of cloth which cover his genitals. He is provided with certain objects associated with a hermit and a hunter, and, conceptually, he is thought to go off to live in the forest for hunting, i.
Coming out of the house the initiand will proceed to the local Ganesh temple. Here the boy is expected to run off. However, when he thus symbolically tries to go off to the forest, his maternal uncle will stop him, put a cap on his head, and thrust some money into his hands.
The cap and the money represent normal domestic life. Occasionally the initiand, the kyeta puja yamha, as a joke, will be kidnapped at the Ganesh Than by some of the spectators. Seeing the preparations for the Kyetapuja being made, some people may go to the Ganesh Than to create a crowded and confused scene there, making it easy to whisk away the initiand, the kyeta puja yamha.
He will then be kept hidden during a couple of hours, while his maternal uncle anxiously searches for him. Eventually the initiand is released. The feast will be a common paha yaye, i. The details of the contents are not prescribed. Also at the Baratayegu, pre-menstrual, or first menstrual, twelve day seclusion, of his niece, the maternal uncle provides for the girl who is secluded. Indeed, the practice seems to be general, as the maternal uncles do likewise among the Jyapu in Sunakothi and among the Uray of Kathmandu.
The maternal uncle also has ritual obligations to his nephews and nieces at marriages. This meal is known as Paju ja na wanegu, i. Among the Jyapu of Sunakothi, in the Nyapakhu form of marriage which is the most expensive, the bride goes to have dinner at the houses of different relatives from the day the lakha breads have been delivered.
The gifts from the maternal uncles, known as pajukhu lit. In the Nyapakhu, the most expensive and elaborate form of marital rites, the maternal uncle of the groom brings pajukhu containing five pathi of baji, five pathi of pure white thon, two mana of various beans, hila, pala, thirty wa, waca, and one pau g of palu.
At the Nipakhu, there will be only two pathi of baji and two pathi of thon. There it is used for a feast. Her in-laws, for their part, give money, generally between five and one hundred rupees, to the newly weds. The nayakuli, the durukuli, and the wa are placed in the house. They are eaten later, and there seem to be no firm rules regarding who may take part in it. When the sajipaju and his party arrive, the food gift is delivered; then he and his party are offered a feast meal.
They do not stay long. The maternal uncle also sends a nan, an earthen pot with twelve breads. The gift is known as pajukhu lit. This is the major marriage feast to which outsiders, too, are invited. Serving the ayela, the ladies, dressed in the richest of brocades, walk down the lines of guests. They pour ayela into the guests clay cups. Etiquette demands that one should drink at least three cups, one served by each of the women.
The Hindu : Problems with consanguineous marriages
Second comes the groom. He serves large breads pacinta mariwhich are handed over to him by his maternal uncle, who in his turn, is handed them by a Jyapu who carries them in an earthen pot, a mari kasi. They perform binti yaye, i. This is also regarded as an excellent opportunity for the hosts to see who came, or did not come, to the feast. They are followed by male children who offer tiglica, a kind of small bread, and packages with cloves, betel nuts in piecescinnamon, etc.
This rite is interesting, as it demonstrates the significance that the relatives one has through female linkages have in socialization, in bringing the groom from one status to another. Indeed, the maternal uncle gives the groom the ritual bread he passes on to the guests and thus enables the groom to assume the role of host. Then, unbroken betel nuts are the very instrument of the marriage contract, and in the past they were thus returned at divorce.
The lakha breads are, in some weddings, also instrumental in expressing the establishment of affinal relationships: Different categories of kin receive different types of lakha, and every acknowledged relative gets a share. There is a high potential for conflicts between husbands and wives and between in-laws, and it is notable how many customs seem to be designed to regulate conflicts and channel them through ritual behaviours which, in some instances, involve symbolic usage of foods, e.
Moreover, one may pose the question whether the ritualized exchanges of food at marriage and through the ritual calendar year may not be as much an attempt to create a working relationship as a reflection of a working one? In the affinal relationship, one may note that food is in a metaphoric sense the woof of the social warp giving it substance, which is particularly obvious in the first phases of the marriage.
Indeed, among some castes, the couple who are going to be married have eaten each others food before they have even met. Gifts of food are exchanged frequently and according to certain rules. Thus foods give social relationships substance and give expression to various social imperatives.
Married daughters act out their roles by feeding the members of their parental household during the initial mourning period. Affines send food signifying the sex of children born or wishing each other longevity and prosperity, etc.
Thus, the provision of food in certain cases signals the status, the positions of the actors in the web of kinship. The maternal uncle has great ritual importance for his nephews and nieces.
The maternal uncle is essential in initiations. He is the very agent who bestows adulthood on the initiand by catching him and putting a cap on his head and some money in his hands, as he is about to go off to the forest; i.
These customs mark the closeness of the paju to his nephews and nieces. Indeed, the maternal uncle participates in all rites de passage, either in person or by sending gifts — which often consists of foods; and this role of the maternal uncle is often enacted at the transitional states where the initiand is a semi-naked ascetic boy leaving for the forest or a girl shut up in a room for twelve days.
Indeed, this quality of his, of being an outsider to the patrilineage, may be the very reason that he is the one who is able to make children adults. Here, the highly pollutable, boiled rice is served, although boiled rice normally is not a feast food. This meal marks her closeness to the maternal uncle. So far no reliable statistics have been compiled on such marriages. The rules are not clearly defined, apart from the ban on marriage for seven generations.
It seems that expedience determines the real behaviour.
Although one will try to maintain the seven generation-rule this has, in some instances, become impossible. See, for instance, Nepali However, quite possibly, one may encounter different customs at the very bottom of the caste hierarchy.
Here, I got widely differing answers. Agnates within the household are closest. Then, in some rites the phukis are the closest, whereas in others the affines. Then, the lha goye phaye is performed at the second.
Most of us do not even recognize the pros and cons of such marriages. While assessing the consequence of consanguineous against non-consanguineous non-blood related marriages in health and disease, several scientific studies have shown that consanguinity leads to death of infants before, during or immediately after birth, increased incidence of birth defects, genetic diseases including blinding disorders, blood cancer acute lymphocytic leukemiabreathing problems for children at birth apneaincreased susceptibility to disease etc.
Some scientists contradict these studies and state that other biological factors could be accountable for the results and not consanguinity alone.
In our study we showed that consanguinity could increase the incidence of many blinding disorders like retinitis pigmentosa, Leber congenital amaurosis, Lawrence-Moon-Bardet-Biedl syndrome, Stargardt disease, Usher syndrome etc Consanguinity and Ocular Genetic Diseases in South India: Analysis of a Five-year study. Consanguinity could increase the risk of inheriting any one of the autosomal recessive genetic diseases that could affect any part of the body from head to foot.
Some animal studies have shown that inbreeding or consanguinity could enhance longevity. It has been proved beyond doubt that consanguineous marriages farther than second cousins would not result in major genetic diseases.