Karbis Of Assam

Ethnology on the Karbis also Known as Mikirs

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Forbidden Sex in Karbis

Posted by Administrator on April 15, 2008


Every society in the world has some kind of fixed rules through which one person can copulate with another person. The rule which defines the allowed and tabooed sex explains lots about the kinship and nature of that particular society. Although cross-cousin marriage or copulation is allowed amongst the Karbis, however it may be a taboo for some other community considering it to be incestuous. Some rules pertaining to marriage or intercourse like marriage amongst the same clan is a taboo in Karbi Society, which is very much allowed and infact is the preferred one in some cases in some other community in the world.

The beauty of the concept of tabooed sex amongst the Karbis is its complexity due to its Bi-lineal characteristics of the society. The Karbis Society is Bi-lineal in nature where the lineage from both the mother as well as the father is to be taken into account.

Tabooed Sex in Karbi is term as “AKER ANGNO”. When a couple commits the tabooed sex it is termed as “SENEM” i.e . Incest. If Sex is committed between a couple of same Clan then it is termed as “KUR-SENEM”. i.e. Clan Incest. To purify such couple, at first some animal ( Fowl or Pig) has to be sacrificed and the remains has to be left in the rivers then only can the process of judgment to such couple can start. Only the Habe (Judge of the Longri i.e a state in Customary Karbi Laws) has the authority to officiate in such cases. But before presenting the involved couple to the Habe, they must be purified by the Khakre (a traditional priest of the village)

If the mother and the father of the couple involved is same then they are termed as “CHUBONG ISI” and they will come under the purview of KUR-SENEM and also those “ASU-ASOPI ARON”, i.e. like daughter or grand daughter in relations. If the proximity in kinship of the couple involved is of the same family then the term referring to them would be “NOKHUM-ISI”. And if it is of some 7 generation gap then it will be “NOKSONG-ISI”.

That is in general the tabooed sex committed between those from the patrilineal kinship (PHUTUNG OR POTUNG) will be termed as “KUR SENEM”

Amongst the Karbis even if the clan of the mother, even though two persons might belong to different clans, they will be considered as brother and sister. The kinship from the matrilineal kinship (PHITUNG OR PITUNG) also plays a big role in marriage as it will be a taboo to have intercourse with the girl whose mother may have the same clan as that of the boy, even though they may be of completely two different clans.

This kind of tabooed sex between a couple who has some kind of affinity from the mother side i.e. matrilineal kinship is termed as “LAI-SENEM”.

The Child acquired from such kind of tabooed sex is known as “SO-RONGRO”. In some cases such kind of illicit child is killed but in some cases it is adopted after identifying the biological father by the clan of the illicit father of the illicit child after purifying it taking into consideration humanitarian ground, if the ‘sin’ is “LAI-SENEM”. However if it is the case of “KUR-SENEM” then the child must be adopted by some other clan other then the couple involved.

If illicit affair happens between a couple of the same sex, that is, if it involbes Gays, then it is termed as “SENEM ALO”. The couple involved, if caught, must be fined, punished and purified under social customary law.

There is restriction to copulate with the widows of those who were eaten by tiger. The widow is termed as “ME-ANG” and they are considered to be unpure. If copulation happened with a “ME-ANG” then purification must be done before they are can marry each other.

At the conclusion it can be added that basically there are three kinds of Tabooed Sex amongst the Karbis.

1) KUR-SENEM ( Sex between the same Clan)

2) LAI-SENEM ( Sex between those who are related from the Matrilineal kinship to become brother or sister but not the daughter of Maternal uncle)

3) SENEM-ALO ( Sex Between couple of same sex)

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