Thursday, November 11, 2010

Matriliny in Andhra Pradesh - IV

During the 'shaving of head' ceremony of year old babies, in some of the temples in Andhra Pradesh, it is the maternal uncle who acts as guardian of the child in the rituals and not the father.

I wonder if that has something to do with the lapsed matrilineal tradition of this region.

4 comments:

Maju said...

Wonder? It looks a 100% classical matrilineal vestige.

SHE said...

Even among Konkani speaking people, the baby sits on the laps of the eldest maternal uncle for the 'shaving of head' ceremony.

Similarly it's the maternal uncle who carries the bride to the wedding 'mantapa' (podium).

Is it vestige of matrileny or just a good-will gesture to involve the mother's family also in the ceremony?

manju said...

a good-will gesture to involve the mother's family also in the ceremony

Maybe true. Well, in fact I don't think we, matrilineal Malayalis, involve maternal uncle in head tonsuring ceremony. I suppose the ceremony itself might not be part of the core matrilineal traditions but was part of Brahmanical traditions as it's observed all over India.

However, I wrote the post because one of my north Indian colleagues got his son's head tonsured in one of the temples in Andhra. However, the priests there didn't allow him to take part in the rituals and insisted only uncle can be part of the ceremony. So, his friend had to take up the role of uncle!

He said he thought it was the tradition of South as such traditions were not found in North temples. Therefore, I wondered whether it was a vestige of matrilineal traditions of the region.

By the way, are those practices among Konkanis observed in Goa too? Many of you live amongst matrilineal Tuluvas (and even Uttara Kannada was ruled by matrilineal chieftains once upon a time).

Maybe North Indian communities beyond Maharashtra are better suited to determine whether those traditions were matrilineal in origin or not.

Maju said...

"... just a good-will gesture to involve the mother's family also in the ceremony?"

Why would such a "good-will gesture" exist if there was no matrilineality or uxorilocality before to conciliate with such gesture? The fact, as Manju states, is that nothing of that exists in the North, where the patriarchal (and caste) Indo-Aryan traditions seem much more strongly entrenched.

So your question, She:

"Is it vestige of matrileny or just a good-will gesture to involve the mother's family also in the ceremony?"

... does not imply a disjunction (XOR) in fact and can well be rewritten as:

"Is it vestige of matrileny AND also a good-will gesture to involve the mother's family also in the ceremony?"

(Using the non-exclusive OR (or/and) would also work but it does not exist in English).