Matrilineal system is followed predominantly in Tulu Nadu. More or less identical ‘bari’ names (Clan / lineage names or Gotra) are invariably followed by majority of original inhabitantsof this land (See Post-211/30.10.2010: Genetic tags & 286/03.09.2011: Bari system predates castes).
On reading our article on Billavas (Post-314/03.08.2013) one of our readers, Nithesh M.R., wants us to explain the meaning of ‘Kooda bari’ in Tulu.
It is a well-known compound word: Kooda (mixable/ enjoinable) + bari (Gotra or Clan name). ‘Koodu’ means ‘to come together or unite’. The compound word denotes compliance with certain customs or social rules prevailing in natives of this land while accepting a marriage proposal. It is a prerequisite consistently followed in Tulu Nadu so far (excepting the present day developments)and for that matter,elsewhere too.
‘Madumegu koodabariye aavodu, bete ovvulu bari aavandu’ (ಮದುಮೆಗು ಕೂಡು/ ಕೂಡಬರಿಯೇ ಆವೊಡು, ಬೇತೆ ಒವ್ವುಲ ಬರಿ ಆವಂದು). Before agreeing upon a marriage proposal, elders from both sides of groom and bride take care to see that alliance to be compatible fathers and mothers are from different genetic lineage (Bari). This is the meaning of the statement in Tulu quoted above.
Essentially, the term “kooda bari” means permissible lineages for fixing marriage of a bride and a bride groom. The maternal lineage of the bride and the bridegroom should not be the same ‘bari’ or linage.
When elders say that ‘bari tappunu’ (ಬರಿ ತಪ್ಪುನು), it means, clan name differs; it is a signal to go ahead discussing further nitty-grittyand finalizing the proposal.
Harm in marrying among kinships
In matriarchal system, surnames of both the fathers and mothers are taken into account. Marriage between maternal uncle and niece is specifically banned. In patrilineal, tallying of genetic lineage of fathers is paramount. There is a custom of maternal uncle marrying his niece in patriarchal families.
Scientifically, the underlying principle in having different ‘bari’ is to procreate a healthy child. Marital relationship is forbidden between girl and boy, having parents of same blood or nearest kinship. Consanguineous marriage may continue the defects in blood of concerned families, thus contributing to poor health of would be progeny. This wisdom of our forefathers has been sometimes ignored by present day generation with changes in professions and in life-style.
Types of marriages
Characteristics of various types of traditional marriages are defined in our ancient knowledge. There were eight types of marriage in our country in the past:
Brahmya: Marriage solemnized after acquiring knowledge during celibacy period. This is a marriage between educated, religious and righteous minded couple.
Daiva: This is to marry a boy, engaged in religious rites, say sacrificial religious performances (Yajnas).
Aarsha: This is a boy, marrying a girl, by giving dowry to bride’s father.
Prajapatya: This is a marriage to fulfil duties of propagation of family line and family traditions.
Aasura: To marry by giving something to both groom and bride.
Gandharva: This is a marriage by mutual consent but without following the traditional customs.
Rakshasa: Here, marriage is preceded by a fight. Girl is forcibly married.
Paishacha: This is marrying a girl after raping when she is sleeping or intoxicant.
All above types fall under endogamy or exogamy custom of marrying. Some of the types of marriage cited above are not relevant now but some are still relevant in some ghastly form or the other in our so called civilized society.
There is a sea-change in our marriage traditions. ‘Marriage’ is a vast subject. This article is only to satisfy the curiosity of our reader Nithesh.
-Hosabettu Vishwanath, Pune