The term "tribe" is no where defined in the Constitution of India and in fact there is no satisfaction definition anywhere. In ordinary sense, the word tribe suggests simple folk living in hills and forests and it signifies a colourful people famous for their dance and songs. It is that group of citizens who are the special responsibilities of the President of India. Scheduled Tribes may Boling to any religion and they are listed as scheduled tribes because of the kind of life led by them. These groups of people could easily be recognised by their way of living as this is very peculiar.


Tribe is the group of people or a group of family who generally lives in a common territory, having a common language and follow taboos related to marriage, occupation. They are generally ignored from the civilised society because of their superstitious beliefs. They worship nature and natural things like water, tree, sun etc.  Tribes do not believe in worship of statues. They are very much religious minded and so much afraid of it due to superstition. In between tribal persons there is no reciprocity in terms of money but only in terms of heart.


  • Tribal Marriage in India-

In India there are some tribes which allow pre-marital and extra marital sex relations on the festive occasions. But, it does not mean that the tribes have no marriage rules. In fact, most of the tribes are strictly monogamous except on some festive occasions where there is a laxity in sex modals. Even most of the primitive tribes like the , the Kadar, the and the have their strict marriage rules. Marital fidelity is found to be enforced in most of the Tribes. Proscriptions, Prescriptions and Preferences in choice of mates in tribal societies are based on very elaborate rules.

  • Types of Marriage:


The tribes mainly follow two types of marriage i.e. MONOGAMY and POLYGAMY.


It is the ideal form of marriage where there is union of one woman with one man. During the lifetime, neither spouse can marry again. It is accepted among many Indian tribes.

Example- Monogamy is pronounced among the matrilineal tribes of Syntangs, Garos and Khasis of North-East India.



In this form of marriage one woman can marry two or more men, or one man can marry two or more women, which is divided into two types-

  1. Polygyny- Where a man is eligible to marry more than one woman, example- the Nagas, the Baigas, the Gonds, the Todas

  2. Polyandry- Where one woman marries more than one man, example- the Todas, the Khasis.


Polyandry is again divided into two type’s fraternal and non-fraternal polyandry.

a.Fraternal Polyandry:

The marriage of one woman with several brothers of a family is known as fraternal polyandry. All the brothers in a family have the same woman as their wife. The paternity of children, born of this marriage is determined by a social festival.

Example- This type of marriage especially found among the Todas of South India, Khasas of Jaunsar Bawar.

b.Non- Fraternal Polyandry:

When one woman marries more than one man, who are not brothers, the marriage between them is known as Non- fraternal Polyandry. Here the husbands belong to different families and are not related by brotherly relations and when a child is born, then anyone of the husband is chosen as her or his father by a special ceremony.

Example- It is found among the Todas of India.

  • Ways Of Acquiring Mates Among Tribal:

Tribal marriage is a social contract for sexual pleasure, production of children and mutual co-operation. In tribes there is very high bride price, as it is very expensive and tribal peoples are so poor so they have found some alternative ways to ignore the High bride price and so that they can get married easily. It is not a religious sacrament like the Hindu Marriage. There are mainly eight ways of acquiring mates-


It is like a trail process, a trial that the boy and the girl is fit for one another or nit, depending upon their performance, a contract for temporarily a particular period of time.

In this kind of marriage, one man is allowed to live with the woman at her parents' house for a particular period of time. Here the man have to prove that he is appropriate or not for the woman. During the period of probation if they adjust with each other then they get marry and if they cannot adjust with one another, if their mentality does not match and they are incapable to patch up then they get separated, and the man has to pay some money to the parents of the woman as compensation. During the period they could have sexual intercourse and if the woman becomes pregnant during this probation period then that man must marry that woman.

Example- It is found among Kuki Tribes of Manipur.


In this kind of marriage there is the capturing of a woman without the consent of the woman or her parents. It is a type of marriage in which without the consent of a woman, a man marries her forcibly.  The main factor responsible for this marriage is the excessive bride price. It is of two kinds - a) Physical Capture, where the man carries away the woman by force and marries the woman in other place ( ex- Muria, Gonds etc.) & b) Ceremonial Capture, where the man surprises the woman by marking her forehead with vermilion, which is done at least in front of 20-25 people's ( ex- Santhal Tribes).


Among some tribes of India, a man is required to prove his prowess and courage by braving the obstacles thrown in his way before procuring his wife. There men and women perform a folk dance around a tree or a pole during Holy festival. A coconut with some gur is tied to the top of the tree or pole. Women dance very near to the tree or pole and men dance around the circle of the dancing women. Any one man from the group has the right to reach the tree or pole. Women beat that men venturing to perform his feat with bamboo sticks and tear his clothes. In spite of all resistance, if he reaches to the tree and breaks the coconut and eats the gur, that man will get the right to marry any one of the girls who have participated in the trial.

Example- This is found among many tribes including the Bhils of India.


In this form of marriage of tribes, the parents of the bridegroom pay something in cash or kind to the bride's parents. The money or material is the bride price here. A Garo man cannot get a bride if the bride price is not paid. The bride- price is said to be the compensation to the bride's parents which is generally fixed by the tribal customs and traditions. Beside this the so called bride price is only a contribution from the bride groom's family towards the feast of the marriage, on which it is usually spent. The bride's parents cannot use that money for their personal or domestic household purpose.

Example- This system prevails among the Nagas, the Juangs and some of the tribes of central India.



In this custom, before the marriage the bridegroom simply goes to his prospective father in law's house and serves there as a servant for a particular period of time  After the expiry of that particular period if the father in law is satisfied with the word of that man then he gives his daughter's hand to the man. And if not satisfied then the man is banished from the house. During the period of service the man can not establish any sexual relations with the woman. The tribes of India differ from one another regarding the modalities or the duration of service.

Example- The members of many tribes of India such as the Gonds, Baigas etc practice this.


According to this practice, two families exchange their daughter and son so that neither side is required to pay the bride price.

Example- It is a very common form of marriage among the Indian Tribes. The Uralis of Kerala, the Muria Gonds and Baiga of Baster and the Koya and the Saora of Andhrapradesh practice this.


In this form of marriage a woman and man love each other and want marry each other but their parents refuse their matrimonial relation. In such cases both of the girl and boy escape from the village. After some period of time they come to the village and then they are recognised as wife and husband. This kind of marriage is also known as Raji Khushi Marriage.

Example- This kind of marriage is found among the tribes of Jharkhand.




This is also one kind of love marriage. Here one man has intimate relations with woman and a promise to marry her but always postpones or delays the marriage ceremony. So that the woman herself takes the initiative and enters his hut and occupies her place in one of its corners. Sometimes, the girl is much harassed, ill-treated and beaten by the parents of the man. Buy still if the woman withstands all this, she wins and the man is compelled by his neighbours to marry her.

Example- among the Oraon Tribes it is known as Nirbolok and among the Ho tribes it is known as Anadar.



Marriage is a social institution and family and marriage are complementary concepts. Marriage leads the union between two peoples. Like the other peoples, tribal also considered marriage as a most important of their life. They are so simple and very religious minded people. A majority of tribal people worships of Lord Shiva and other devtas and devis. A common ritual of them is the animal sacrifice. Their marriage forms are quite different from us and they are regarded as backward class people. But it is seen that they are improving themselves and the difference between the caste and tribe are getting reduced during the recent years for various reasons. And some of the tribes are getting themselves converted into castes.