The tribal marriages are, however, mere civil contracts and not religious sacraments as found amongst the advanced societies. Religious rites and rituals are not absolute things in their marriages.
The acculturated tribals are found to approximate the ritualistic performances of the sophisticated societies in the neighborhood. The ways in which mates can be acquired are indeed varied.
The following types of acquiring mates may be listed on the basis of the data collected from tribal India:
When the parents of both the boy and the girl come forward to negotiate their children’s marriage, it is known as negotiation marriage. It is the regular form of marriage in the Hindu, the Muslim and tribal societies of India. In this form of acquiring mates, the bride and the bridegroom have no positive role and even more is that, they may not have personal acquaintance with each other before marriage.
In this type of marriage, a young man is allowed to live with his sweetheart in the latter’s house and if their temperament suits each other, then alone marriage will be held. Otherwise, instantaneous dissolution of such relationship will be effective and the man has to pay cash compensation to the girl’s parents.
Marriage by trial
Some tribes including the Bhil of Rajasthan require a young man to prove his power and courage before he can claim the hands of any girl at marriage. In ancient literatures, such marriage was held as most honorable one. In Ramayana, Ramchandra got the hands of Sita through such marriage by showing his physical strength in breaking the sacred bow of the great god, Haradeva. In Mahabharata, Arjuna claimed Draupadi in a similar way.
Marriage by purchase
Marriage by purchase is a prevalent form of acquiring wife in the tribal societies of India. In this form of marriage, the payment which is to be made to the family of the bride is known as bride-price.
Marriage by service
“Gaining a wife by service” is a widespread custom among the modern primitives. It may be taken as an alternative measure of marriage by bride price. The period of service of the suitor-servant varies from 3 to 5 years.
Marriage by capture
This type of marriage is found among the various tribal groups of India. This type of marriage is, however, becoming less popular with the social advancement and wide application of India Penal Code.
Marriage by mutual consent
Such type of marriage takes place when the boy and the girl fly off from their parental houses with their mutual consent and get married outside it. In modern societies, inter-caste marriages are sometimes held in this way. In the primitive society’s high bride-price and in the advanced societies soaring dowry may lead to such type of marriage.
Marriage by exchange
Another means of avoiding the progeny price is the device of exchanging brides in between two households.
Marriage by intrusion
If a girl desires to marry an unwilling boy, she applies force to secure him. On getting a suitable opportunity, she enters the house of the boy without the permission of the inmates of that house and starts household works there, such as sweeping the floor, washing the utensils. If she can withstand the abusing and the maltreatment’s of the mother and the sister of the boy for a specific period of time, then she will be taken as a wife of that particular boy and usual marriage function will be held later on.
Divorce and remarriage
In tribal societies, both the groom and the bride have their equal rights to dissolute marriage. Barrenness, disloyalty, laziness, quarrelsome nature on the part of both sexes lead to divorce. After divorce, remarriage can be held again without the payment of bride price. The children of the previous marriage generally stay with their mother.
Marriage by inheritance
Inheritance of widow is one of the important ways of acquiring mates as found among some of the primitives.