Santali Bapla : Marriage | Culture

The Santali name for marriage is called /Bapla/. In Santal society, marriage is one of sacred event of life and marriage adds up considerable respect in society. However, there are some traditions and customs need to be strictly followed in doing so. It is strictly forbidden for any Santal to marry within his or her own sept (Parish). He can marry into any other septs or sub-septs to which his/her mother belonged. There are some septs, which never intermarry with another in consequence of some ancient feuds between them. For example, A Hansdak' male or a female never marries a Murmu female or male respectively. Similarly, a Tudu male never marries a Besra female and vice versa. These customs are no longer in effective prevalent in day-to-day life of Santals. However, myths and tales associated with feud are still told among the Santals. Girls are married as adults mostly to men of their own choice. In Santal marriage, there is no restriction of age. The bride may be younger, older or of equal age with bridegroom. There are two types of marriage practiced by Santals- the marriage arranged by Raibar (match maker) is the regular form of marriage. Couple themselves arranges the other forms of marriages.

The Santhals have different category of marriage. Their marriages are exogamous and these marriages called as `Bapla` are of twelve types namely Sanga Bapla, Kadam Bapla, Kirin Bapla, Upagir Bapla, Tunki Dipil Bapla, Itut Bapla, Nirbelok Bapla, Diku Bapla, Sange Bariyat, Haram Bariiyat, Gardi-Jawain. Raibar Bapla:
This form of marriage is most commonly practiced in Santal society, where parents of both side select the bride and groom. Once they liked each other, then Raibar (match maker ) is appointed to negotiate between them. Generally, bride's father asks for bride price, which is generally divided among the bride's father, bride's mother, Mother's mother and father's mother. The brother of bride will get bull from groom. It is customs that not fix the marriage date in the month of birth. Sanga bapla:
In this form of marriage the divorced women or widow is married with a widower. Here, bridegroom and bride settle the negotiation and mostly male takes the initiatives. In this marriage, bride price is very nominal. The binding ceremony of the Santal marriage is the Sindurdan; Which is here done by not applying the Sidur directly on the parting of the hair of bride by bridegroom, but instead he smears a dimbu flower with vermilion and fix it in the bride's coiffure. Kudam Bapla:If a girl becomes pregnant, the young man by whom she becomes so is bound to marry her. Generally young man informs the Jog Majhi (Assistant to head man) of his offence and the girl confesses it to wife of Jog Majhi. Then they inform to parents of bride and bridegroom. As usual, bridegroom pays bride price and bull. Bridegroom at the time of applying vermilion stands facing west and bride facing east. Kiring Jawae:
If the couple belongs to the same sept, the headman calls for councils of village, and the decision would be always negative. Here boy's father has to bear the expenses of the marriage of the girl to another man. Then headman arranges the marriage for girl far away from village and name of boy is always secret. Ghardi jawae:
When a man has minor sons and grown up daughter, he procures Ghardi-Jawae to get in his agricultural work. All expenses of marriage is borne by bride's father. At ordinary situation marriage the bridegroom 's friends are called Bariat; but in this it is the friends of bride that are called so. In this kind of marriage the bridegroom pays nothing for his bride but lives with father in-laws and work for him without wages for five years. When man procure a Ghardi Jawae to get help his agricultural works, in such cases, the girl's father sets aside a bit of land for this Ghardi Jawae and help him to get additional land Once five years of service is over, the Ghardi jawae is free to depart. Tunki Dipil Bapla:Poor men perform this type of marriage. As they have not sufficient money to bear the expenses of the regular marriage (Raibar Bapla), they resort this type of marriage. The bride is brought to the house of the bridegroom with small basket on her head; a few friends and relatives accompany her to her house. The bridegroom in the presence of these persons applies vermilion on her head and couple then lives as husband and wife. Itut Bapla:Forward young men who are not quite sure whether the girl fancy will accept them and take this means of compelling her to marry adopt this. This type of marriage is looked down up and rarely occurs. Generally double bride price is paid and the marriage is still legal. But if girl declines to live, then she must take divorced in full moon and cannot marry as spinster. Nirbolok Bapla:This form of marriage can said to be female variety of 'Itut" Bapla. A girl who cannot get a man whom she likes in the regular way, takes pot of rice beer and enters his house and insist upon staying there. They do not adopt any physical force to expel her from house. It is said to quite fair and usually effective to throw red peper on the fire, as by inhaling smoke she will be compelled to run away. If she passes this endurance test without leaving house, she is held to have own her husband and family is bound to recognize her as husband. This type of marriage also rarely occurs in Santal society. Some Santhali Marriage terms: Gonog is a bride value or respect, that groom has to pay to the bride's family. Generally it's a pair of oxen. It helps the family in agricultural activities. As written on Kherwal bonsho Dhorom Puthi, and Santal believes that giving girl to a new family is a lot more than giving a daughter . It is believed that the girls or women are the only one who leads the generation ahead so in respect of them this 'Gonog' is being practiced. Merhed-Sakom: It is to be a distinctive feature for married person (especially bride). So that she can be identified by others in social occasions and other functions or in general day to day life. It's a special kind of bangle only for married women. It is social obligation to wear Merhed Sakom to all married women. There is special function for wearing of Merhed Sakom in the process of marriage. Protection Status


  1. What about marriage between marandi and kisku?? M