Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 9, 1898.djvu/129
The Wooing of Penelope.
custom. There is, first, the case where on the death of her husband the temporary right of exclusive possession vested in him ceases, and she again comes to be at the disposal of the clan. A familiar development of this appears in the Hindu custom of the Nyoga. Next we have the institution of the Levirate, and lastly, as the outcome of this, the disposal of the widow's hand by the decree of the associated clansmen.
What here specially concerns us is the Levirate and its development. In this case, the widow is usually made over to the younger brother of her late husband, or, if that arrangement be impracticable, to some more distant relation or kinsman. But as this is of primary importance for our present purpose, there is ample evidence that in many cases the Levirate is compulsory, and that the necessary pressure on the widow is exercised either by her parents or by the kinsfolk of her late husband. Thus, at the present day in Northern India, among most of the menial castes who preserve the primitive custom with most care, the bride, who is always purchased, generally out of the common stock of the family, is regarded as a chattel of the family. If her late husband's younger brother be of suitable age and unmarried, she is, as a matter of course, made over to him by a decree of the Panchâyat or tribal council ; if this be found impossible, she is taken over by some other clansman, usually a widower. But in this case the rule of the Levirate is so far recognised that in some cases the new husband is compelled to repay to the Levir the bride-price, and other expenses incurred at the first marriage.
We meet a later development of the same rule in Scot-
- Letourneau, Evolution of Marriage, pp. 191, 195,251.
- For these variations of custom, see Crooke, Tribes and Castes, North-western Provinces and Oudh, vol. i., Intro., pp. clxxxix., seqq. ; 42, 193, 203, 209, 224; vol. ii., pp. 7, 74, seqq., 89, 99, 109, 131, 177, 267, 273, 281, 339, 363, 413, 445 ; vol. iii., pp. 3, 97, 218, 243, 259, 300, 325, 352, 390, 426, seqq., 464.