Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 22, 1911.djvu/462

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426

SOME MATRIMONIAL PROBLEMS OF THE WESTERN BORDER OF INDIA.

BY MAJOR A. J. O'BRIEN, C.I.E., DEPUTY COMMISSIONER, PUNJAB COMMISSION.

{Read at Meeting, April \gtk, 191 1.)

The purpose of this paper is to describe briefly a social system quite dissimilar to our own, and then to show some of the difficulties and problems that arise out of it. We consider our customs, which are the result of the evolution of centuries, as nearly perfect as possible. But a Punjabi man would denounce them as imperfect, and even a Punjabi woman, who, as we shall see, is in a state of subjection, would strongly object to any system which was likely to leave her unmarried for any length of time after she was grown up.

Perhaps the best way of gaining an idea of Punjabi conditions is to call up what one has read of Old Testament life, and of the people and times for which Moses and Hammurabi legislated. But it is also necessary to lay stress on one preliminary point. I do not speak of India ; I have no right to speak of the Punjab Province of India ; I am not ready to describe all the races and clans of the Western Punjab ; I merely venture to set before you a few facts and deductions concerning certain tribes, all Muhammedans by religion, who live in the Western Punjab and on the borders of the Indian Empire. It seems most important to me that no one from India should give the impression that he has any right to speak of India as a whole. Only globe-trotters