A Punjabi Village in Pakistan
One of the principal difficulties an anthropologist must face involves the question of how to establish distance -- enough and not too much -- between the field worker and the people whose life is to be studied and described. If we do not come to know the people as individuals, some of whom are loved and preferred above others, we can have little hope of understanding the culture which they embody. So we have come to depend upon the distance between two ways of life, which may be thousands of years apart, to give us the necessary objectivity. And the closer we come to our own culture, the more we must depend upon habits of observation established in studies of remote and primitive peoples to temper our identifications and preserve a modicum of noninvolvement.
The difficulty is compounded for the field worker who studies not a primitive people but a traditional community whose members belong to one of the great religions -- Buddhism, Judaism, Islam, or one of the worldwide Christian groups. In this situation questions of belief, sincerity, compromise, and loyalty to his own faith, or to a sturdy and convinced rejection of the faith of his ancestors, all perplex the field worker, and he must decide whether to "bow down to wood and stone" or, in the interests of understanding and empathy, to violate some firmly held religious or antireligious position. The difficulty is further compounded in a culture in which the roles of men and women are very different -- where there are mysteries that are reserved for one sex or where the sphere of activities of one sex is severely circumscribed.
This study of a Punjabi village is unique because it has been made by a woman anthropologist among a group of people who share the religious faith in which she was reared but who live far away -- in Pakistan. Here the empathy provided by a common religious background and the entree given her, because she is a Muslim woman, into the closed aspects the lives of the women could be combined with the distance contributed by her different background in the Caucasus and Turkey and the role accorded her as a scholar with Western training. Because of this she could confidently pursue her task -- moving freely from the position of an honored guest who was treated respectfully by the men to that of a trusted confidant who could be admitted to the women's quarters, and always attending to the children who shuttled back and forth between the two worlds. The relationships described in this study are even now being drastically changed by the land reforms that are under way.
A combination of international complications and the great hospitality of her host in the village of Mohla gave her a longer period of field work than our present system of grants and field funds would have underwritten. As we owe the fullness of Argonauts of the Western Pacific to the accident of Bronislaw Malinowski's internment during the First World War, so, too, we can be grateful for those accidents of history which, while they placed a burden on Dr. Eglar and her host, have given us a record of the traditional, now rapidly changing life of a village which would never have been obtained during the more usual brief field trip. In the pace and depth of the writing the reader and student are given a dimension seldom present, that of time.
American Museum of Natural History, New York November 2, 1959
This is a study of village life in the Punjab. The people studied are Muslims, and the locus of the study is the village of Mohla, in Gujrat district, the neighboring villages which, together with Mohla, form a loosely organized cluster, and a few more distant villages which are linked to Mohla mainly through ties of marriage. Emphasis is placed on one of the institutions important in thet raditional life of the village people -- vartan bhanji, a complex mechanism for the exchange of gifts and services -- which has served as a principal means of integration in this society.
The observations on which this study is based were made during a trip to West Pakistan, where I did field work for over five years -- from the latter part of 1949 until March 1955. My choice of Pakistan as the country in which to do field work was determined by the fact of my being both a woman anthropologist and a Muslim.
In October 1958 there was a change of government in Pakistan. The new government has introduced revolutionary changes in the system of land tenure and ownership, the system of education, the legal system, economic policies, refugee rehabilitation, and administration. Among these the agrarian reforms will have the most significant effect upon the landowning class. The present study is concerned with the village life as it existed prior to these recent reforms.
The partition of united India and the establishment of Pakistan as a new state took place in August, 1947. In carrying on their struggle for an independent state, the Muslims of India had claimed a cultural heritage distinct from that of the Hindus, and they wanted a country in which Muslims would be given an opportunity to survive as a cultural entity. Whereas outsiders tended to see the Muslims of India in terms of the cultural heritage which they shared with the other peoples of India, Muslims, even though they shared many local customs, did not identify themselves with Hindus but wanted to assert their consciousness of belonging to the larger brotherhood of Islam. The establishment of the new Muslim state and the creation of the new Muslim nation, it was evident, would lead to immediate social and cultural change, and the study of this changing society had an immediate appeal to me as an anthropologist.
Pakistan appealed to me also because of my background and training. My childhood was spent in the southern Caucasus where, under the Russian Czarist regime, various ethnic groups felt their cultural identity very intensely. However, while the Georgians called themselves Georgians and the Armenians felt themselves to be Armenians, the Muslims of the southern Caucasus identified themselves with the world of Islam in general and with the Turks of the Ottoman Empire in particular. Although we spoke Russian and our family friends were Russian, our home was essentially a Muslim home. Our visits to my maternal grandfather made an indelible impression upon me as a Muslim: there, great respect for the elders, hospitality, abundant charity, and distance between the sexes were stressed as part of our religion, and there prayer, fasting, and religious holidays were an important part of our life.
My family escaped from Soviet Russia to Turkey, where we settled. This was the beginning of a period during which we became keenly aware of cultural differences because of the constant comparisons made by adults between the ways of our native country and Turkish ways of life, differences which we felt the more deeply because of our earlier identification with the Turks. Then, too, as a result of the reforms of Ataturk, with their Westernizing effects, Turkish society presented a picture of a people in various stages of rapid cultural change. The changes in our own lives and our experience with the ongoing change in Turkey both contributed to my interest in becoming a student of culture.
By going to Pakistan in 1949, I considered that field work would give me an opportunity to study both the traditional culture and the effect of changes as they took place. I decided to study village culture in Punjab, for the Punjab is regarded as the heart of West Pakistan and has the tradition of having been settled for a longer time than the other provinces of Pakistan. Whereas in some societies it is disadvantageous for a woman alone to do field work, I felt that in making a study of a Muslim society my being a woman would be an advantage for I would be accepted by both men and women.
My first stop in Pakistan was Lahore, at that time the provincial capital of the Punjab. There I was introduced, through Dr. Marian Smith, to Mr. Muhammad Sadullah, Director of the Government Archives; through his assistance it was possible for me to use the records in the Archives and the Library of the Secretariat. For background, I read the Government Gazetteers, various economic surveys, and a number of books on the administration, castes, and life of the Punjabi villages. In Lahore, I also met several families, attended a few marriages and other religious ceremonies, and made an initial acquaintance with the urban culture.
My main purpose, however, was to settle in a village. In this connection I had to face two problems: language and the choice of a village. The official languages of Pakistan are Urdu and English, and in Lahore all educated people speak English. (Since this field work was completed, Bengali has been accepted also as an official language.) But in the villages of the Punjab people speak Punjabi, and although, according to a Punjabi proverb, "language changes every fifteen miles," there is a basic Punjabi which people understand throughout this province. At first I was advised to study
Urdu, for Punjabi could be learned only by living among the people, not by formal instruction; besides, I was told, there would be in every village some man who spoke Urdu. Although I did study Urdu, it was clear to me that I needed to move to a village and to learn Punjabi.
While I was living in Lahore, I made several visits to villages in its immediate vicinity and also to Kasur, forty miles northeast of Lahore. These villages did not suit me because of their proximity to the city and also because, in most of them, the population had radically changed after the Partition, as Hindus and Sikhs left and refugees arrived from various provinces in India. Besides, Kasur was too near the disturbed border. I wanted to find a village at some distance from Lahore with a predominantly Muslim population which had not been seriously disturbed by the political upheavals which preceded the Partition of August, 1947.
For purposes of administration, Punjab had been divided into twenty-nine districts. After the Partition, twelve were annexed by India and seventeen remained within the boundaries of Pakistan. (Later, on October 14, 1955, these districts of the Punjab and the other provinces merged into one unit, West Pakistan; but at the time of my field work, the Punjab was a separate province.) Some of the districts, settled for a longer time than others, are considered to be typical of the whole province. The district of Gujrat is one of these, and it was there that I decided to go.
A family in Lahore introduced me to a businessman from Gujrat who owned land in a village at some distance from the city of Gujrat, where I was welcome to stay. Also, the Director of Public Relations in Lahore wrote to the Deputy Commissioner of Gujrat; the Deputy Commissioner, who was to leave soon for a tour of the villages in his district offered to take me along.
The problem of language would be more difficult in Gujrat, so I was advised to take along an interpreter to help me at least for a brief period. But to find someone who spoke both English and Punjabi and who would be interested in spending some time in a
strange village seemed almost impossible. Finally, an official in the Public Relations office told me that one of his cousins, a young landowner and a college graduate, to whom he had spoken about my difficulties, was willing to help me. I was to meet him in Gujrat in February, 1950.
I left Lahore in the first week of February to visit the village in which the businessman in Gujrat owned land. This village was seven miles from the city, right on the highway, and could be reached by horse and buggy. I stayed there for one week before I decided that it was not suitable for field work. Aside from the fact that I had to make special arrangements to obtain my food from the city, the house I lived in was located outside the village in an orchard of mangoes and oranges, so, though my surroundings were beautiful, I was cut off from the villagers. In addition, the man who owned most of the land in the village lived in the city, the village was populated mainly by kammis, craftsmen, and the social structure of this village was not typical for the Punjab.
On February 20, I returned to the city of Gujrat, where I was joined by Chowdhri Fazl Ahmad, the young zamindar, landowner, who had volunteered to help me, and we left with the Deputy Commissioner on a tour of the villages in the district of Gujrat. I found a village which appealed to me in the tahsil of Phalia, a subdivision of the district, fifty miles from the city of Gujrat, and the Deputy Commissioner left me in the care of the all-powerful zamindar of that area. In that village I remained for three weeks, living in the women's quarters with the wife and children of the zamindar, while my interpreter stayed in the men's guest house. Living with the women, I was able to observe them at all times and to communicate with them by signs and a few words of Urdu. However, there were a number of drawbacks for a prolonged stay and study in this village. As all of the land belonged to branches of one family, there were no other zamindars in the village and the tenants did not feel at ease in speaking to me or to my interpreter. Furthermore, as the interpreter was an outsider, he could not move about freely -- he had to avoid most of the women and could speak with only a few of them.
When I expressed dissatisfaction over my choice, my interpreter suggested that I visit the village where he owned land. In this way I came to Mohla, the village where I settled down to study rural life in the Punjab. This village and those immediately around it had not been seriously disturbed by the Partition. Three miles away from Mohla, in a village where there is a market, there had been Hindus and Sikhs who left and some refugees who came to settle, but this had not been the case in Mohla or the villages nearby. As this village was within easy reach of Gujrat, I was able to make several visits to the Office of the Deputy Commissioner, where I studied Urdu manuscripts on the history of Mohla, the landholdings and inheritance. By this means I could place Mohla in a historical context.
Among the several zamindar families in Mohla, the family of my interpreter owned most of the land, and one of his ancestors founded the village. For generations, therefore, this family has had the status of chowdhri, village chieftain. In the village I was accepted unquestioningly by men and women alike. That I was invited to stay by the chowdhri and that his family lived in the village were great advantages. The chowdhri understood that I had come to study village life. He had accompanied me to the second village I visited and, having realized the difficulties one encounters on such an enterprise, wanted to help me. As for the village people, the men were amused and the women were puzzled about "what there was to learn about them, especially by an educated person who had come from such a distance." The fact that I was a Turk and a Muslim pleased people both in the cities and in the villages, for the Muslims of Pakistan have cherished a great love for the Turks and have shown much interest in Turkey.
For the first two months I lived in the chowdhri's guest house, often visiting the main house, where his womenfolk lived -- his mother, his sisters, and the widow of his elder brother -- with the children and the servants. I spent the summer away from Mohla. In September, when I returned, there was a big flood. Many of the mud houses were demolished, and water in the guest house rose to four feet. I moved to the main house which was built on higher ground. As the water kept rising, some of the village women and their children took refuge there also, while others left the village. The chowdhri intended to send his whole family and me away to safety, but when his mother refused to leave because this would dishearten the rest of the people, I felt I could not leave either. People felt that this action was proof that I was a "noble" person -sherif, as the old chowdhrani, the mother of the chowdhri, said. After the flood subsided, I lived for several weeks with the women; we became friendly and the children began spontaneously to call me Apaji, older sister, which gave me a place in the family circle. After that, I lived as it was convenient for my work -- sometimes in the guest house and sometimes with the women.
The guest house of the chowdhri is the center of men's activities in the village. On the other hand, in the main house there is the daily routine of work and a constant flow of women visitors, who bring news of what goes on in the village, in the neighboring villages, among the men, among the women. Then there is always some extra activity going on -- taking care of the produce that comes from the fields, spinning thread for the cotton blankets which are used for bedding or given away, preparing for visits by relatives from distant villages, and getting ready to attend ceremonial occasions among relatives.
At first the chowdhri translated for me as people talked, but after a few months I was able to participate fully in what was going on. An essential part of the people's life, especially that of the women, is to attend the various ceremonies among their relatives. My stay, therefore, was not confined to Mohla. Together with the women, I traveled and stayed for days in many villages within a radius of 150 miles. Or together with the chowdhrani and a group of zamindar and kammi women, I went to offer condolences in neighboring villages as was required by custom. As I grew more familiar with their ways and knew the standards required for marriage, I was asked to accompany women and give my opinion about the eligibility of young men and their families for a young daughter who was of marriageable age. As time passed, I was able to understand the undercurrents of events, and many subtleties of the culture became meaningful to me. I could understand the great emphasis placed on maintaining proper relations with all the people with whom one deals in life, and I could appraise the significance in their lives of the complex gift exchange which was to become the dominant subject of this study.
I traveled extensively in West Pakistan for my work as well as to become acquainted with the different parts of the country. I visited villages in the districts of Lahore, Gujrat, Gujranwala, Sialkot, Lyallpur, Multan, and Sargodha; I spent six months in Sind, where the Punjabis have settled in new villages and have established businesses; I also visited the provinces of Baluchistan, the North-West Frontier Province, the tribal area, the states of Dir and Swat, the northernmost state of Chitral, where I lived for one month; and I spent part of one summer in the valley of Kaghan, a western extension of Kashmir Valley. Thus, in the course of time, I came to see Mohla and its cluster of neighboring villages in the larger context of the area.
The plan for my field work in Pakistan was made with the help and advice of the late Professor Ruth Benedict; I owe my deepest gratitude to her as a teacher and a guide in my development as an anthropologist. I am thankful to Professor Margaret Mead, whose advice and steady encouragement during the years in which I lived and worked in Pakistan kept me at my work and helped me to see beyond it to a time when I would return to the United States and bring together this research. For his continuing interest and support, I wish to express my gratitude to Dr. Philip Mosely.
For the financial support which made this extended field work possible, I wish to thank the Social Science Research Council for the Area Research Training Fellowship which I held in 1949-1950 and which was renewed in 1950-1951; I wish also to thank the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research for a grant made to me for work in 1949-1950; and I wish to thank the Institute for Intercultural Studies for grants which enabled me to complete my field work. Preparation of this material for publication was made possible through a Research Fellowship for the spring session of 1958, which was granted by the Near and Middle East Institute of Columbia University.
The anthropologist traveling in a country as a stranger but as one who, through his work, hopes to understand that country well is singularly dependent upon all those who, with knowledge, advice, and above all good will, are able to set him on the right path and to smooth the difficulties along the way. Yet it is never possible to acknowledge in full one's indebtedness or even to mention all those whose help makes meaningful field work possible. This is especially the case for someone like myself, who has had the privilege to enjoy the hospitality of Pakistan for five years.
Nevertheless, I wish especially to express my gratitude to the following rulers and governors of states: H.H. the Nawab of Dir and H.H. the Heir Apparent of Dir, who was most kind to me; H.H. Saif-ur-Rahman, the late Mehtar of Chitral; H. H. Prince Ased-urRahman, brother of the late Mehtar of Chitral and Governor of Torkho in the State of Chitral; H.H. Prince Hussam-ul-Mulk, Governor of Drosh, in the state of Chitral; H.H. Prince Meta-ul-Mulk, Governor of Khozere, in the state of Chitral; Mr. Shams-ul-Din, President of the Council, in the state of Chitral; and H.H. the Wali of Swat.
I wish also to thank especially Sardar Abdul Rab Nishtar, Governor of the Punjab; Mr. Akhtar Hussain, Financial Commissioner of the Punjab; Syed Fida Hussain, Commissioner of Lahore; Mr. Riaz Uddin Ahmed, Deputy Commissioner of Gujrat; Mr. Muhammad Sadullah, Director of Government Archives, Lahore; Syed Nur Ahmad, Director of Public Relations, Lahore; Malik M. Yusaf and Chowdhri Sejjad Haider of the Office of Public Relations, Lahore; Mr. Muiz-ud-Din Ahmad, Chief Secretary of the North-West Frontier Province; Major Muhammad. Yusuf, Political Agent of the states of Dir, Swat, and Chitral; Mr. Mir Ajem, Assistant Political Agent of the state of Chitral; Mr. Zafar-u-Zaman, Assistant Political Agent of the agency of Parachinar; and Mr. Abdul Kadir, Curator of the museum at Texila.
I wish also to express my gratitude to the following families and individuals for their warm hospitality: Dr. George J. Candreva, USIS officer in Lahore, and Mrs. Candreva; Syed Muhammad Hayat, the chief of Kaghan Valley, and his family in whose house I lived while in Kaghan; Head Constable Pir Muhammad Shah, stationed at Kaghan; Chowdhri Ghulam Dastegir and his brother, Haji Anyet Ali, of the village of Gudyala, district of Sialkot, for their hospitality during my stay in their village and in the Sind; Haji Abdul Shakur of Khaiderabad, district of Lyallpur; Chowdhri Nasrullah of Talwandi, district of Gujranwala, and his family; the late Pir Budhen Shah of Multan; Dr. and Mrs. A. Waheed of Lahore; Mrs. A. Kekaus of Lahore; Sheikh Akhtar Hussain of Gujrat and his mother; Chowdhri Jehan Khan of the village of Gumnana, tahsil of Phalia, district of Gujrat, and his family; and Chowdhri Muhammad Shafi of Paṛianwali.
To all the people of the place where the anthropologist has carried on his work, a debt of gratitude is owed which cannot well be expressed in words, for these are his collaborators whose frankness and trust open doors to a new world. Chowdhri Fazl Ahmad of Mohla, district of Gujrat, and his family did indeed open the doors of their house to me. Their kindness and generosity made it possible for me to remain for a prolonged period in the Punjab and to carry on my work. Their friendship made this a rich experience in my life. The insight which Chowdhri Fazl Ahmad has into the ways of his people and his comprehension of the task of an anthropologist have been my steady guides to an understanding of the people of Mohla and of the Punjab. I have to thank him also for the diagrams which he prepared for my use in this study.
The village people, with whom I spent so many hours and to whom I put so many difficult questions, were consistently kind, cooperative, and protective. Among them all, I shall especially remember Badro, the tongawala, whose carriage and whose joyful company were always at my disposal; Ghulam Muhammad, the loyal family servant of Chowdhri Fazl Ahmad; Nazir-nai, the barber of the village; Muhammad Hussain, the cobbler of the village, who gave me insight into the spiritual life of the people; Lal Khan, the paṭwari, who represented for me the worldly side of a Punjabi man; and Akbar, the former paṭwari, who became a fakir and was in search of the true path.
I wish to thank Mr. S. M. Ikram, Visiting Professor of Pakistan Studies, Columbia University, 1957-1958, for his kindness in reading this manuscript. For his assistance in working out the transliterations of Punjabi terms used in this study, I have to thank Dr. Theodore Schwartz. I wish also to thank Dr. Rhoda Métraux for her help and advice in my work.
Cambridge, Massachusetts August 1, 1959
Prologue: The Wider Setting
Pakistan covers two areas, in the northwest and northeast of the subcontinent of India, separated from each other by a thousand miles of alien territory. The two sections are called West Pakistan and East Pakistan and are often referred to as the West and East wings. This unique location came about as the result of the creation of Pakistan as a separate state for the Muslims of India and of the allocation to the state of those areas in which Muslims were in the majority.
West Pakistan includes the provinces of Sind, Baluchistan, the North-West Frontier Province, and Punjab, and the former princely states which were joined to Pakistan after the Partition. Up to 1955, these provinces had a semiautonomous status; each had a provincial capital and an administrative and a legislative body. Then by a decree of October 14, 1955, they were merged into one unit, West Pakistan, of which Lahore, formerly the provincial capital of Punjab, became the capital.
Among the western provinces, the old province of Punjab is the best known. It has been settled longer than the others and has been the crossroad of many invasions. Lahore was the seat of rulers and, for a long period, was a center of culture and learning. The British annexed the Punjab to their other possessions in India in 1849, after they had defeated the last Sikh ruler. Before the coming of the British, there had been a period of great unrest, for the Sikh dynasty, which had built up a strong kingdom in the northwest and had ruled Punjab in the nineteenth century, had weakened, and the country was in turmoil until the British reestablished peace and order.
As in Bengal and other parts of India, the British used landownership as a basis for organization and as a means of systematizing and facilitating the collection of revenues. In 1857, the Regular Settlement was made which gave permanent ownership to those families who were already in possession of land. One effect of the Act was to make the holding of land the privilege of a single caste, the zamindars, who then became responsible for the payment of taxes to the government, not in crops but in cash. In this connection, land was divided into various categories according to which revenues were fixed. The necessity to deal with land problems and to arrange for the payment of taxes gradually brought about increased contact between the zamindars and the government outside the villages where they lived.
For purposes of better administration and communication, the British built new roads and improved old ones to make them usable throughout the year. The construction of railroads also was begun in the middle of the nineteenth century; by 1863 there were 4,000 miles of railroads crisscrossing the countryside. The completion of the Suez Canal in 1869 and the building of large steamships further facilitated the transport of raw materials from India and the import of manufactured goods from England. So, slowly, the Punjabi villages, which during the centuries of Mogul and Sikh rule had remained self-sufficient, came out of their isolation. As crops could be sold for cash and as their sale was no longer restricted to local areas, landowners gradually moved toward a cash crop economy and money circulated more freely in the villages.
The great possibilities of the Punjab as an agricultural area were recognized by the British. Dams and irrigation canals were constructed and, beginning in 1892, vast tracts of new land became available for cultivation. The opening of the new colonies meant, on the one hand, the extension of village society, but also, on the other hand, a loosening of traditional ties as colonists from the old established villages moved out and took up land in the new ones. People did not break their ties with their kin; they even kept possession of their old land and strengthened old ties through new marriages and frequent visiting back and forth. Yet the sphere of their significant activity broadened very considerably, for in order to visit, and to take part in family celebrations, they had to travel not to the next village but many miles by train or, later, by bus.
Gradually, as these changes were taking place, village people became aware of and increasingly dependent upon goods and services coming from outside their local world. However, not all villages were affected to the same degree in such matters as cultivating cash crops, buying machine-made goods, or entering into new types of activities and new forms of relationships. Depending on their location and the size of landholdings, villages in the part of the Punjab which had long been settled -- those, for instance, in the districts of Gujrat, Gujranwala, and Sialkot, where land was not abundant and was held in relatively small parcels -- were less rapidly affected by change than were the new colonies of Sargodha, Lyallpur, or Montgomery with their vast tracts of land and more advanced methods of irrigation.
Acquaintance with manufactured goods, their increasing availability, and the increasing availability of money, together with some contact with city life, affected the kinds of work done by craftsmen in the villages -- some craftsmen more than others -- and the ideas and demands of village people as a whole. These changes in turn contributed to further changes in village life.
Awareness of a mode of life different from the traditional one appears to have increased during the First World War, when men from the villages were recruited into the army and were sent abroad to various parts of the world. Their families at home received their salaries and, as people became increasingly short of working hands, they became increasingly dependent upon money and on products which could be bought instead of being made at home. Meanwhile, the men who went abroad became acquainted with many foreign things. So, for instance, tea was introduced into the villages by the returning soldiers, and nowadays tea with milk is a favorite drink among the villagers.
Changes of the same kind took place on a larger scale during the Second World War. Again, many men were recruited into the army and served abroad. At home the prices of agricultural products rose, and money became more available in the villages. In addition, in this period, village people became more politically conscious. Until then, although they knew about the period of Sikh rule and the coming of the British Raj, the events of the transfer of rule from one ruler to another meant little more to them than episodes in a story. Now, however, members of political parties held rallies, and people who went to the cities would bring back news, including political news. In the city mosque after the Friday prayer there were political discussions, and people went to the city specially to attend them.
Gradually, as other changes took place, some people moved out of the villages to the cities and there adopted a somewhat different way of life. Their sons received new types of education and entered new occupations. But these changes were not always immediately apparent to those who remained in the villages. In the first place, those who left, as individuals, often kept their families in the villages where they maintained traditional relationships. Secondly, those who moved their families still kept their land and their connections with village people and remained familiar with village ways. So, as far as the village people were concerned, the basic
principles of social relationships and the modes of behavior through which they were expressed were little disturbed.
During the period of a hundred years after the annexation of Punjab by the British, change was continuous, but the rate of change was slow enough so that villagers of each generation could adapt themselves to the new without feeling that their lives were profoundly affected. And, in fact, traditional social relationships remained very stable. So, for the villagers, the implications of the changes taking place in the larger world became apparent only in recent years, particularly in the years since the establishment of Pakistan as an independent state. Then, among other changes, two occurred which were of immediate importance to the village people.
The first had to do with the land. In the Objective Resolution passed by the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan, March 12, 1949, the following statement is made:
In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful;
Whereas sovereignty over the entire Universe belongs to Allah Almighty alone, and the authority which he has delegated to the State of Pakistan through its people for being exercised within the limits prescribed by Him is a sacred trust. . .
Wherein shall be guaranteed fundamental rights including equality of status, of opportunity. . . .
Translated into practical terms, the rights of "equality of status, of opportunity" meant -- among other things -- land reform. The size of landholdings was restricted and the right to purchase land was extended to all men alike instead of being limited to the members of one group alone.
The second change had to do with inheritance and was initiated by the West Punjab Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act of 1948, which was enacted by the provincial legislature of West Punjab. This Act gave -- among other things -- full rights of inheritance, particularly of agricultural land and other property, to
women who, heretofore, had received dowries but had been excluded from the inheritance of property, which descended exclusively in the male line.
These new rights, incorporated into law, touch upon two of the most important social relationships in village life -- the relationship between landowners and nonlandowning craftsmen and that between a married woman and her parents' house. For the first time, change has penetrated to the core of social life. What the effect will be, however, remains to be seen.
This book describes the life of village people in Punjab at the moment of change. West Punjab has an area of 62,245 square miles and a population, according to the census of 1951, of some eighteen million people. There are more than nineteen thousand villages in the province, and more than 82 percent of the people live in villages.
The villages of the Punjab have a very distinctive character. The houses, with the exception of a few large brick houses belonging to well-to-do landowners, are built of clay and all are flat-roofed. Each house is hidden behind high clay walls on which, here and there, dung cakes for fuel are left to dry in the sun. Every village, no matter how small, has its mosque. The narrow, irregular lanes, muddy during the rainy season and deep in dust at other times, often serve as channels through which dirty water flows from the houses. On the outskirts of the villages are ponds of rain water for the buffalo. Wherever fields are irrigated by wells, Persian wheels are outlined against the sky. The day starts early with the call to prayer from the village mosque and ends at sunset. A few people have kerosene lamps and the rest burn oil in small tin lamps, but except on moonlit nights there is little movement outside the courtyards after dark. Paths connect the scattered villages but, though there is constant traffic between villages, few strangers are seen from one week to the next. Before an official leaves his office in the city to visit a village, the village headman or watchman will be notified that a visit is intended. Village people may travel far and wide but no outsider comes into the village unless he has something special to do there or wishes to visit someone he knows.
No two clusters of villages in the Punjab are exactly alike. Yet there is a village way of life, which is best understood through the lives of people in a particular village. So Mohla, the village in which I lived for over five years and which is described here, is both unique and, in its own way, typical of the Punjab.
Part I. The Village of Mohla
The village of Mohla is in the heart of the Gujrat district of the province of Punjab, seventy miles northwest of Lahore. It lies midway between the two district towns Wazirabad and Gujrat. To the east of the village the railroad tracks run parallel to the Grand Trunk Road which crosses the country from Lahore to Peshawar and the Khyber Pass in the northwest. To the southwest flows the Chenab River, which threatens the village with periodic floods.
From Lahore one travels to Mohla by train or bus in about three hours. As the train leaves the city, the domes of the famous Badshahi mosque can be seen glistening against the blue sky; nearby on raised ground is the Fort of Lahore, which was built by Mogul emperors. In a few minutes the train crosses the bridge over the Ravi River. Along the banks are palm trees and luscious vegetation. On one bank above a beautiful Mogul garden rise the minarets of the majestic tomb of Jehangir, a Mogul emperor; on the opposite bank, half hidden by trees in a small garden is the modest tomb of his beloved wife, Nur Jehan. The highway runs parallel to the railroad tracks. Buses, cars, trucks, bullock carts, tongas, and men traveling on foot -- all move along this highway. Soon the rich vegetation disappears and the land takes on a barren appearance. In the rainy season the land turns marshy, but in other seasons it glistens with "white alkali." In this soil no crop grows except paddy. During the season of paddy, the fields are green and men are seen at work, but there are no villages in sight.
The train stops at one or two small stations. The first big station is Kamoke, seventeen miles from Lahore. It is a rice market and has a number of rice-husking mills. During the harvest season sacks of rice are piled in mountainous stacks in the storage yards near the station. Beyond Kamoke there is another stretch of barren land, but before the train reaches the next large station, Gujranwala, forty two miles from Lahore, villages begin to appear near the road and fields stretch out into the distance. Gujranwala, which is a district headquarters, is a historic city, the former seat of Sikh rulers. Here, trains and buses stop for a few minutes. Vendors in the station sell aerated water, cold sweetened milk diluted with water, hot tea, sweet puffed rice, popcorn seasoned with hot spices, sweetmeats, and the fruits of the season. At the bus stop, in the hot season, there may be a man with a huge straw fan who, for a fee, will fan the passengers. At the railroad station bearers bring trays of food to the cars. In the morning they serve an English-style breakfast, but later in the day they bring Pakistani meals.
The next big station is Wazirabad. This is a junction from which tracks branch off to Sialkot, Lyallpur, and Gujrat. After leaving Wazirabad, the train crosses the long bridge over the Chenab River. Near one bank there is a large timber market, where the timber floated down from the regions near the Himalayas is collected. Farther off there is a forest reservation.
Now the road is lined by huge poplar trees. In ten minutes the train stops at the Kathala station, which is also a bus stop. Across the road to the east one can see the village of Kathala. To the west, beyond a stretch of barren land, the eye stops at a cluster of trees and mud walls -- that is Mohla.
From the station it takes about twenty minutes to walk directly to Mobla. Baggage is left at the station master's office to be picked up later by the barber or some other craftsman from the village. If one arrives in the afternoon, the sun shines hard in his eyes as he walks toward the village. After crossing the railroad track and climbing down a steep embankment, one walks westward over uneven, barren terrain, crossing the narrow boundaries of the plowed fields, past the simple village graveyard, around the hollows dug out for mud used in building village houses, through more fields, reaching, finally, a well dug under a clump of trees. The well marks the end of a bumpy dirt road which connects Mohla with nearby villages to the south and also leads to the main road and the railroad tracks -- a much longer and more roundabout way of coming from the station to the village by horse and carriage.
Mohla has a population of approximately 350. If one includes the people of the neighboring villages, between which there is constant coming and going and whose fields merge, there are over 1,500 in the local population.
Like all villages in the Punjab, Mohla lies on an open plain where nothing cuts across the vastness of the sky and the earth as they meet at the horizon. Villages lie ahead and to all sides of Mohla, all of them alike in the color that predominates -- the reddish gray color of the soil, the clay one treads on, the fallow fields, and the mud walls that protect from view the flat-roofed mud houses.
Punjab is an agricultural province. Its vast plains are covered with an intricate network of villages lying at distances of a quarter of a mile to two miles from each other. Over 82 percent of the people live in villages, which vary in size of population from 200 to 5,000, but which in physical appearance, average landholdings, economic and social structure, and in the pattern of daily living vary so little that all are equally representative of rural Punjab.
In fact, there is no large gap between village and city life. Most city people still maintain close connections with the villagers. They own land in the villages and have relatives there; for the sake of prestige they maintain a house in the village, too. On big occasions they either come to the village to celebrate or else invite their relatives to come to the city to participate in the event and also call upon some of the village craftsmen who are traditionally attached to their family to help at the ceremony.
The villages lie in clusters of three or four. As a result of the spread of landholdings, many villages have offshoots which are named after the original villages. Gurali (meaning Little Gurala) is an offshoot of Gurala, and there are Saman+̄3 and Lenda (West) Saman+̄3, Dhirke and Nikke (Little) Dhirke, Mohla and Lenda (West) Mohla, and so forth.
Within the boundaries of its own lands, each village site is drawn close to a place of some advantage to it -- a dirt road, a railroad track, a nearby city or a market town, a piece of high ground offering protection from the floods, a source of drinking water in an arid area, or another village whose nearness gives a feeling of safety. In this way, several villages form a cluster, in which each is separated from the others only by a few fields, with the rest of the village lands stretching beyond the village sites. At distances of twenty or thirty miles the points of orientation of the villages may change, but there are few differences in the style of village life. All these villages are connected by dirt roads, but the people use the boundaries of the fields for shortcuts. The dirt roads between the villages in turn join the metaled roads that lead into the bigger towns and cities or reach the Grand Trunk Road that parallels the main railroad track. Not a village is isolated and, except in time of flood, all can be reached by car, by horse and carriage, on horseback, or on foot.
Sometimes there are very specific ties between villages. Mohla, for instance, has a very close relationship to Dhirke, one and a half miles away. In the first place, Mohla is settled on land which originally belonged to Dhirke. Fifty years ago, Mohla and its lands were located near the Chenab River, but the whole village was washed away and most of its land was submerged. At that time, the then leading landowner of Mohla and some members of his patrilineage bought some barren ground from Dhirke, and founded the present Mohla. The fact that Mohla bought land from Dhirke does not add to the amount of land shown in the land records as belonging to Mohla. The purchase or sale of land by a village does not alter the size of the land originally allotted to each village by the Regular Settlement in 1857. Therefore, in the Land Record Office, the land bought by Mohla is still on the records of Dhirke but the names of the new owners have been substituted for the old ones. The lamberdar of Dhirke, the revenue head of the village, collects from the owners in Mohla the revenues from the lands purchased from Dhirke.
Now that the lands of Mohla and Dhirke are contiguous, this very fact establishes between the people of these two villages a relationship to which they refer as being bane da bhai, brothers by having a common boundary. Besides, at the time of settlement, some people from Dhirke, whose lands were closer to Mohla than to Dhirke, came and settled in Mohla.
The people of these two villages borrow grain and money and buy cattle on credit from each other. People prefer to buy a buffalo or cattle in a village with which they have an established relationship. In the first place, they can buy on credit, and, secondly, they feel more confident that they will not be cheated; if they are dissatisfied, some adjustment will be made.
So, for instance, a man from Dhirke bought a buffalo from the carpenter in Mohla. They agreed on a price, which was to be paid later. After the buffalo was taken to Dhirke, it did not thrive. Within a few days it could hardly stand, ceased to give milk, and finally died. The new owner came back to Mohla, bringing with him a landowner who was married to a girl from Mohla. A few responsible men from Mohla and the neighboring village of Saman+̄3 came together. The man who had bought the buffalo claimed that it must have been sick at the time of the purchase, but that the carpenter did not tell him so; consequently he refused to pay. The main point of the long discussion that followed was whether the carpenter knew that he was selling a sick animal; finally, he admitted it was so. It was then decided that the man from Dhirke should pay half the price of the buffalo, because he also should have used his judgment at the time of the purchase. All the parties concerned were satisfied with the decision.
People from Mohla buy ghi, eggs, and chickens from Dhirke when there is a shortage in Mohla. If there is a need for collective labor, mang, during the harvest or the ploughing season, they ask for help through their relatives or friends. On the occasion of a marriage, they also ask for bedding, cots, copperware, and milk. In Dhirke there lives a hakeem, a native doctor, and the people from the neighboring villages go there to consult him. When a person of one village dies or loses a buffalo or suffers some other material loss, people of the other village go in groups to offer their sympathy.
The same pattern of relationships exists with the other villages near Mohla. With some they share a common carpenter, tailor, and blacksmith. A washerman from Nikke Dhirke washes the laundry from Mohla and Saman+̄3. There are three small shops in Mohla run by a widowed weaver woman, a baker's wife, and the village imam, the priest. But certain things are found in Saman+̄3 shops; for example, people go there to buy dyes for cloth and native medicine. They also borrow agricultural implements from Saman+̄3. In Saman+̄3 lives a pir, a religious man, to whom people go for faith curing. There is also a holy pool there, where childless women from all over the district come to bathe and are believed to be cured. Saman+̄3 holds annual melas, festivals held to commemorate the anniversary of the death of a holy person or a ruler, attended by the villagers -- mostly men and children -- from the neighborhood.
During the month of Muharram, which is the first month of the Muslim calendar, a pir from Gujrat is invited to Mohla to preach a sermon, and from all the neighboring villages come men, women, and children to listen. The primary school in Mohla -- opened by the government in 1953 -- which has an enrollment of about 100 children, serves the five villages in the immediate vicinity. The headmaster, a weaver by caste, lives in the village of Saman+̄3, about an eighth of a mile away; his father, with whom he lives, is the imam of a mosque in the village of Kathala, across the railroad tracks.
Every day, from Saman+̄3 and the village next to it, Ghazi Chak, the women vegetable growers, the arains, bring fresh vegetables to Mohla and the other villages. A man from Mohla collects milk in the neighboring villages and sells it in the city.
Men from these villages are invited to participate in the village parea, the village council. If there is something to be done in connection with the government, such as getting a fishing license or producing a birth certificate for marriage or inheritance, with obtaining a concession on excise taxes, when, for example, a crop like tobacco has spoiled, or with the court, people would find someone, through friends, who has good connections and would ask him to accompany them and to use his influence. This is never refused. There is coming and going between the villages all the time. On warm moonlit nights, men come to visit and they stay on until late in the night.
There are five girls from Dhirke married in Mohla, and three girls from Mohla married in Dhirke. Marriage ties establish close relationships between the villages, because daughters come home for regular visits, and on big occasions the people related through marriage come together. The village respects its daughters and respects the place where they are married. But though there are marriages between the nearby villages, the proximity of a village is not a basic factor in making a marriage connection. People often say that it is better not to marry a daughter into a nearby village, for there will be too much gossip traveling back and forth.
Sometimes there are quarrels between neighboring villages, which may be settled between themselves or through the intervention of an influential man from another village. Repeated straying of cattle into the fields of another village, an illicit relationship, or an elopement may lead to an outburst of anger and even to fighting. When, for instance, the daughter of a carpenter in Dhirke eloped with a blacksmith of West Mohla, the carpenter and his relatives repeatedly asked for the return of the girl. But the blacksmith did not heed them, nor did his village force him to do so. Finally, the men of Dhirke sent a warning that they were coming to beat up
the men of West Mohla and to carry away one of the women of the blacksmith's family -- either his sister or the wife of his brother. Frightened, because Dhirke is a large village, the people of West Mohla sent for the chowdhri, the most influential landowner, of Mohla proper. From Dhirke came a crowd of about 100 men armed with heavy clubs. The chowdhri of Mohla, whose mother was from Dhirke and who had good connections with that village, asked the crowd from Dhirke to send representatives with whom he and other landowners from West Mohla could hold a discussion. To this meeting the brother of the blacksmith was summoned. He was forced to promise that the girl would be returned within a specified number of days. As a guarantee he had to deposit with a responsible landowner of the village golden ornaments worth 400 rupees, which belonged to his wife. The carpenter's daughter was returned. A few months later she was married in the proper way to the blacksmith with whom she had previously eloped. (It may be remarked here that although there is no intermarriage between the different castes, carpenter and blacksmith are considered to be close enough for marriage.)
In this network of villages there are kasbas, larger villages, with bazaars, where one can buy cloth, shoes, cigarettes, fruit, meat, sweetmeats, and many other native products, as well as a few items from the outside. There also are found specialized craftsmen, such as goldsmiths.
People also go to the nearby cities of Gujrat and Wazirabad, each of which is five miles away from Mohla. Gujrat is the district headquarters; it has a civil hospital, offices of the Departments of Agriculture and Education, a cooperative bank, textile, pottery and furniture industries, an extensive bazaar, and a grain market. People prefer to go to Gujrat to buy provisions and cloth, for it has the larger bazaar. However, whenever the village barber goes to visit his aunt in Gujranwala, a city twenty-four miles away toward Lahore, he is asked to bring back brassware and to buy or to inquire about the price of cloth and of lungis, wrap-arounds, for this city is known for its brassware and for the lungis made in its vicinity. To buy cloth in quantity, when it is needed for a marriage, for instance, people may go either to Gujrat or to one of the larger cities where they can choose from a greater selection; where they go depends on where they have relatives with whom they can stay and who will help them to find their way successfully. So, just as the people who live in the cities still keep their places in the village network, the village people, depending upon the same ties, feel free to stay with their relatives in the city and to avail themselves of their advice and help.
In the province of Punjab, there are two main types of villages: the old villages, which have been built and rebuilt without any apparent plan, except that, for protection, the back walls of the houses are joined together, and the newer villages in the colonies which have opened since 1887, in which wide streets divide the village into regular blocks, each having a few houses with spacious courtyards and all surrounded by high mud walls. The village of Mohla belongs to the old type of Punjabi village.
The larger portion of Mohla lies to one side of the country road -- the main thoroughfare that runs in an east-west direction and leads to the villages beyond. A few narrow lanes branching from the main road cut the village into compact irregular blocks.
Across the main country road, all by itself, stands a brick building with an areaded veranda and four slender tall trees in front of its wide compound which is surrounded by a low brick wall. This is the men's guest house. Behind it is a Persian wheel drawn by buffaloes, and beyond is a small block of mud houses, a new offshoot of the village, the place where people have had to move for lack of space on the raised ground of the main site.
There are two or three vacant plots in the village, which are used as shortcuts for crossing from one block to another and sometimes for tethering buffaloes. These belong to landowners who have moved to the new colonies where they have acquired land. Though they have moved away, they keep the land in their name and may, sometime in the future, build a house there, for this is their original village from which they have not severed their ties, and here, in this village, are their relatives.
A few ponds of standing water are scattered on the outskirts of the village -- some for the buffaloes to swim in and to drink from, others too shallow to be used by the animals yet too large to dry up.
And all round are the fields, some belonging to the neighboring village and merging into the boundaries of Mohla. The fields of Mohla stretch to the north and the southwest where the Chenab River flows -- the river that has claimed many fields and has left many a landowner without land, but with the hope that the land may emerge some day, as has happened before and will no doubt happen again, for the river has its own cycle.
In Mohla the houses in each of the irregular village blocks are built with their back walls joined together as a protection against thieves and floods. In front each opens onto a courtyard surrounded by a high wall that demarcates the household boundary and gives the house dwellers privacy from the world outside. The most spacious of the courtyards are forty by fifty feet, the smallest twenty by twenty feet.
The houses have no special orientation. The direction in which each house faces depends on two factors: the necessity felt to build so that no back wall is ever exposed and the position on the block. Thus, if one moves around one of the village blocks which is bounded by the main road on the south, by lanes on the west and the north, and by a narrow path on the east, it will be found that the houses face in the four directions -- out toward the streets.
The houses of the richer landowners and some of the more welltodo craftsmen are built of baked brick; the rest are made of mud. The better houses have covered verandas which run the length of the front of the house. Otherwise the plan of each house is similar. The houses are rectangular in shape, with one long room in front and two rooms at the rear. The back rooms have no windows and open into the front room. The front room may have windows -- with wooden shutters but no panes of glass -- that open onto the veranda; most houses, however, have no windows at all.
One of the back rooms serves as a storeroom for provisions. These are kept in earthenware and brass vessels of varying sizes, piled on top of one another with the largest vessel at the bottom and the smallest at the top. Sugar, ghi, flour for immediate use, salt, lentils, peas, peppers, pickles, jam, and brown sugar are kept in these vessels which are stored with extra housewares. The second back room is used for storing extra bedding, which is kept in huge tin boxes or piled up on wooden stands. Here are also smaller tin boxes, each belonging to one of the female members of the family. In them they keep clothes. In poor families, extra bedding and clothes are kept in a big wooden box. The women also use this room for the night and early morning prayers on cold winter days. Money and jewelry are hidden away in the least expected places -- in a hole, behind a loose brick in the wall, in a vessel with some provisions, or in a bin of grain.
In the front room stand the large clay bins which contain the yearly supply of grain for the family. Also in this room, high on the wall, is a shelf on which are displayed brass vessels, trays, plates, and glasses; the number of these, in addition to the number of extra cots and the amount of extra bedding, is a sign of the wealth of the family and its ability to entertain guests. A few wooden pegs are driven into the clay walls to hold the clothes that are being used. The front room serves as a sleeping room for all the members of the family, male and female. There is little furniture other than the cots, though there may be a small mirror used by the women and, except in the poorest homes, a wooden armchair and a small table for a very respected male guest. The wealthiest landowner has several wooden armchairs; however, the villagers themselves use these only in the men's guest house for persons of high status and as a special treat. Women prefer to sit on the string cots, which are used for a variety of purposes, or on low stools while they cook, spin, or weave long strips used for covering the cots.
The ceiling is made of heavy beams, which are the most expensive part of the house structure; the roof is plastered with clay. The floors of the rooms are plastered with a mixture of clay, dung, and straw, which is renewed annually; every week or so a thin slip of dung, clay, and water is pressed over as a finish.
The front room is used for sleeping during the cold months from December to the end of February, and also for resting in the hot afternoons in summer. As the weather grows warmer, people move out on the veranda to sleep, then pull the cots into the courtyard, and finally transfer them to the roof, which is reached from the courtyard by a mud staircase. During the warm rainy season, people sleep on the roof and come down only when it starts to rain hard, carrying their cots with the bedding on their heads.
All the daily work is done in the courtyard or on the veranda. Women move their cots and their work about in the courtyard, sitting in the sunshine in winter and looking for shade in summer. There is usually a tree in the courtyard, and people spend much time in its shadow.
Cooking is done in the courtyard in an open structure -- a flat roof supported by a few columns with the wall of the compound as its back wall. Two or three clay hearths are built next to the columns. This is the regular kitchen; in addition, there are other hearths built in the different parts of the compound where, in winter, one gets more sunshine.
Also in the courtyard are the buffaloes, standing by their long clay mangers along one of the walls of the compound. There is a room in the compound where the cattle stand in winter. In summer it is used for storing hay, but toward winter, as the amount of hay decreases, space is made for the cattle. Chickens and crows intermingle everywhere; the crows, which visit the same houses year after year, are accepted as an inevitable part of the surroundings.
The people who live in one compound are closely related. They may form either a simple conjugal family consisting of a man, his wife, and children, or they may form a joint family consisting of an elderly father and mother, their married and unmarried sons, and unmarried daughters and sometimes a widowed daughter with her children. Such a joint family is considered to be a single household if the income is pooled and expenditures are made from a common purse. In this case, the parents -- actually, most likely, the mother -manage the budget. When it comes to paying taxes, contributing to the village funds, or providing labor for communal work, such a household is treated as one unit, for, although there may be many grown-up men in the family, only one man will be required to contribute his work. However, when it comes to social dealings -- as in vartan bhanji, the system of reciprocal gift exchange -- matters are handled quite differently. If at the marriage of their sons, the parents have performed all the ceremonies which require the distribution of food in the village, these sons and their wives are entitled to be treated as if they had separate households; when other families in the village are distributing food or sweets, they will send to this compound sweets and rice for the parents and unmarried children, as one group, and for each of the married sons separately. On the other hand, as long as they spend from the common fund, the married sons themselves do not take part in the system of reciprocal gift giving. Rather, it is their parents who, on behalf of the whole family, conduct all the dealings on appropriate occasions and distribute food in the village.
After their sons have been married for some time, parents give the eldest son a separate room in their house or in the same compound and let him manage his own income and expenditures. From this time on, the eldest son is considered to have a separate household from every point of view -- such as in paying taxes and contributing labor. And when it comes to vartan bhanji, he now takes an active part, celebrating important events, such as the birth or the circumcision of his son, and distributing food in the village. Whether he remains in the same compound or moves to a compound of his own, his is an independent household.
In contrast, a son whose marriage was not performed with the appropriate ceremonies, accompanied by the distribution of food in the village, is not recognized as a separate social entity but is still treated, in vartan bhanji, as a member of his parents' house hold. As long as he does not establish himself, he will remain so. His status will change only when he has a room of his own, cooks separately, and on the whole manages his own budget.
After the death of the parents, unmarried brothers and unmarried sisters live with one of the married brothers. Usually the married brothers live for some time together in the same compound; if the property was not divided during their parents' lifetime, they will continue as a joint household, for it is respectable to show unity. However, their wives may not get along well together, in which case the brothers would soon have separate cooking arrangements; later, when their children grow up, they will move to separate compounds. But the brothers will continue to work together.
When food is sent to a family who live together in one compound but who are divided into several households, people say that there are so many chuls, hearths, in that compound. In this case, hearth stands for cooking and symbolizes an independent household.
There are two main castes in the village: zamindar and kammi. Zamindars are the landowners, and kammis are the village craftsmen. 1
Zamindars differ in their social status in accordance with the size of their landholdings. The largest landholding is about seventy acres and the smallest about one and a half acre. Although some zamindars, as a result of the subdivision of land through inheritance, own hardly any land at all, the fact that at some time in the past their ancestors did own land makes them still belong to the zamindar caste. Kammis do not own land. However, there are a few exceptions. A kammi may receive land as a gift from a zamindar, and once he owns the land it will be inherited by his descendants. For example, a very generous zamindar of Dhirke gave six acres of land to the father of the present blacksmith of the village Samaū, who had exceptionally pleased him with his work. Sometimes a kammi can purchase land if he can show that some ancestor of his up to the seventh generation owned a piece of land. In this way Babu Imam-Din of Samaū acquired land. He is a barber by caste, but is called babu because he has some education and is a clerk in the railway engineering department. With very minor exceptions, then, it is the zamindars who are the only landowners.
Kammis are themselves divided into castes, such as barber, baker, potter, carpenter, which indicate the craft which they have inherited from their ancestors and which will be practiced by their sons. A child learns the caste it belongs to from the time it begins to speak, and tells it when he gives his personal name. Very early, the child also learns that it can marry only within its own caste. Yet the fact of belonging to different castes does not create social barriers among the people, all of whom are Muslims. Kammis and zamindars sit together and may eat together, accept food from one another's houses, smoke a common huka, draw water from a common well, and pray side by side. The fact of being Muslims creates a sense of unity and of equality among the people. In their eyes, caste is a custom which they have borrowed from the Hindus and which, to them, refers primarily to an inherited occupation. When a mature person is asked about his zat, which means caste and also identity, he is most likely to answer: "What identity can a human being have? The only one who has an identity is the Almighty. I am a carpenter (or zamindar, or barber, or this, or that) by occupation."
At the head of the village there is a chowdhri, the village chieftain or headman. He is of the zamindar caste. The title of chowdhri is an honorary one, and every zamindar is addressed as chowdhri, but there is a difference between one who is a chowdhri in name only and the actual chowdhri who is the head of the village. For this man has inherited his position from his father, whose ancestors were the founders of the village and had more land than the other zamindars and commanded respect and had influence through their wealth, generosity, common sense, and power. To hold onto his position, the chowdhri must have the qualities of a leader: he should have authority; e must be generous with his time and money; he should get along well with his biraderis, the members of his patrilineage, for on their unity depends his power; he must have many friends, maintain good relationships with the people, and have connections in official circles; he should act in every situation in accordance with his status, that is, he should be dignified and should be able to make decisions.
In a large village there is more than one such chowdhri, each backed by a group of followers -- smaller zamindars and kammis -whom he favors and who form his party in the struggle for power with other parties in the village. But in a small village like Mohla there is usually only one chowdhri.
As a symbol of his status the chowdhri maintains a guest house, where his male guests are entertained. It serves also as a men's club for the people of the village, where the huka is served at any time, and where the men can exchange news, gossip, play cards, or lounge on the cots. Official guests from the city are received here, and here in the courtyard the parea, the village council, meets. Here a traveler may spend the night and be treated to a meal. Here the villagers may entertain their barat, wedding parties. And a man in whose family a death has occurred will spread straw mats on the ground in the courtyard to receive the friends and neighbors who for days come to offer condolences and to sit with him for a long time to show their sympathy for his grief.
Women do not use the guest house; they feel "ashamed." The wife of a musalli, a laborer, sweeps the courtyard at a time when the men are not around but even then she does not feel at ease. But the women in the chowdhri's household like to bring their women visitors to show them around when the men are away, for they take pride in the guest house, which is a symbol of the high status and generosity of the chowdhri.
The chowdhri's generosity must be supported and shared by his womenfolk -- by his ghar, his household -- because in this society a woman's cooperation, especially that of the chowdhrani, the chowdhri's mother or his wife, is crucial in building up and sustaining the prestige of the man. For women control all the provisions and the money. When a man has guests, it is up to the women what quality and what amount of food will be served and how good will be the bedding they will send, all of which indicate the status of the host. So a man has to maintain good relationships with the womenfolk of the house in order to have their good will.
Besides, the women should get along well among themselves, for should they fight, they would expose themselves to criticism and the chowdhri's prestige would suffer. How could he give advice to other people if there were no unity in his own household?
As the chowdhri has tenants to till his land, he has time to devote to village affairs. He forms a link between the people and the government. He sees to it that in times of distress his village gets a government loan, or, if there are any benefits to be enjoyed, he does not allow his village to be by-passed. When someone in the village gets involved in court or when anyone is in trouble, he uses his connections and influence to help them. In cases of theft, elopement, or dispute in the village, he calls together the parea, the village council; the matter is discussed and a decision is made by the parea -- but the chowdhri's decision is final and carries weight. The parea has no connection with the government, and its composition depends upon the particular case to be put before it. Usually a few respectable zamindars and kammis of the village take part in it, and often one or two zamindars from the neighboring villages, who are known for their shrewdness and sound judgment and who are on friendly terms with the chowdhri, are also invited.
The women in the chowdhri's household -- in Mohla, his mother or, in her absence, the widow of his elder brother -- are the ones to whom people turn in time of need, whether the occasion is a joyful or a sorrowful one. They borrow from the ghar -- the household of the chowdhria -- money and provisions and also get free medicine. Neighbors or kammis who have no buffalo, or whose buffalo goes dry, get their lasi, buttermilk, regularly from this house. When a child is born, kammis expect to get its first shirt from the ghar, for it brings good luck. And when the poor die, the chowdhrani sees to it that they have a shroud.
On all important occasions in the houses of the kammis, the chowdhrani honors them by her presence. She gives the traditional money, the selami, to the bride or the bridegroom. When there is a death in the village or in one of the neighboring villages, she goes, heading a party of women, to offer condolences and her presence will enhance the importance of the event.
Likewise, whenever there is an important event in the chowdri's household, both the kammis and the zamindars of the village and their womenfolk show their attachment and loyalty by participating in the celebration to the degree that is appropriate to their status and their closeness to the chowdhri's family. Other zamindar families in the village, in accordance with their status, have their own circle of kammis whom they favor.
In every village there are the following castes of kammis: barber, baker, cobbler, carpenter, potter, blacksmith, musalli (laborer), weaver, and tailor. Most villages have a mirasi, a village bard, and in some villages there are the castes of Kashmiri and of araiū, the vegetable growers. The araiūs may own the land on which they cultivate vegetables, but they are not considered to be zamindars.
In a village the work of the kammis meets the basic needs of the community. Every zamindar family has a contract with a family of each of the following kammis: barber, baker, cobbler, carpenter, potter, blacksmith, washerman-tailor, and musalli. This contract is called seyp, and the contracting parties are seypi to each other. This set of kammis is referred to as ghar da kammi, that is, the kammis of the household. These kammis, besides rendering their specialized services to the household, have specific functions on all ceremonial occasions of the household of their seypi.Kammis also have contracts among themselves. Thus, a potter's household would have a seyp with a barber, carpenter, baker, and a musalli.
The work done by these kammis is defined by custom and usage. The barber, although he does do barbering, is also an official cook.
He cooks on all ceremonial occasions and also whenever the families with whom he has seyp have guests. He is the confidant of his seypis and is consulted about various important problems -- especially those concerning marriage. He is a matchmaker, and through his connections with the barbers in distant villages he is able to find suitable spouses for his clients' children. He is also a messenger and takes important messages to families who may live as far as 150 miles away. The letters he carries say very little; the most important part of the message is transmitted orally. The barber is a receptionist and acts in this capacity at the guest house of the chowdhri. He prepares the huka for the guests and gives them the information they ask for. He massages 4 the guests of the chowdhri and serves them food. He also massages the chowdhri.
While the barber attends to his varied duties, the women of his household do the work which is complementary to his activities. His wife, for instance, is the hairdresser of the women in the household of the chowdhri. She also accompanies the women of the chowdhri's household whenever they go on visits, attend some ceremony, or go shopping in the nearby city. She also does errands for her other seypis. Whenever food is distributed from the houses of her seypi, the barber's wife carries it to the other houses. She knows how to cook in the way it is done in rich houses, and whenever her clients have a few guests she is called to cook. But if there are many guests, it is the barber himself who does the cooking. She also massages the chowdhrani, and she entertains the ladies by bringing them news from the village and from the outside. When a daughter of her seypi is married, she accompanies the bride to the house of her parents-in-law.
Women of other kammi castes also help their men in the activities of their occupations. While a potter kneads the clay and shapes the vessels, his wife helps him paint them and collects dung from her seypi for fuel in the kiln; later she distributes the wares among her clients. A musalli works in the fields of his seypi, while his wife sweeps their houses and courtyards and shapes the dung cakes to be used as fuel. A baker, who is called a fisherman, does not do the baking. He goes fishing and hunting for partridges and quail and supplies the fuel to heat the oven. It is his wife who bakes the bread and patches wheat, barley, gram, corn, and rice. A cobbler's wife embroiders the leather from which the cobbler sews the native shoes.
A woman's participation in his work enables a craftsman to fulfill the requirements of his profession. A baker or a barber could not practice his craft unless he married a woman of his own caste who from early childhood had acquired the skills necessary for that craft by being the daughter of a baker or a barber.
A case may well illustrate this point. A cobbler's wife disappeared from the village. Months later word came from a distant village that she was there with a barber with whom she had eloped. In that village, a seypi of the barber had guests, and this woman was called upon to cook. When the lady of the house noticed that the woman could not cook the special dishes, she asked her how it was possible for a woman of the caste of barbers not to know how to prepare the traditional dishes. The woman then had to confess that she belonged to the cobbler's and not to the barbees caste. Thus her whereabouts became known.
The barber is ranked as the most refined among the kammis. He is a worldly man who travels to distant villages and cities and meets people of high and low status. He must exercise great discretion with regard to personal matters entrusted to him by his seypis and their various relatives and friends and he acts accordingly. The special position of the barber does not mean that his caste is considered to be higher than that of the other kammis. However, there is a degree of importance attached to the work of the different kammis. Some of them -- the barber among them -- are essential to the functioning of the village. Whenever nonarable land is re- claimed and a new village is formed, zamindars who intend to settle there will certainly take with them a barber, a carpenter, and a cobbler as the men most needed in an agricultural community.
In many villages there are mirasis, who are village bards. They know the genealogies of the big zamindars of their villages and also the households into which the daughters and daughters' daughters of these zamindars have been married. They do all the work of the barbers except barbering. Some of them entertain guests by playing musical instruments and by singing, and all of them are very able entertainers who can tell stories and jokes and speak well.
The caste of Kashmiri, who are found in some villages, do not have any special profession. They tend goats, do weaving, work as butchers, as laborers, and as tradesmen.
Weavers spin thread and weave cloth and the cotton blankets which are much in demand. However, they are not considered ghar da kammi, for people do not make contracts with them.
A seyp, or contract, is a relationship established not merely between two individuals, but between two families who become seypi to each otber. 5 Families can enter this relationship at any time, and women as well as men may enter such a contract in behalf of their families. Usually, seyp relationships between two families were established generations ago and have been inherited by the families of the respective seypis. For example, a certain zamindar family inherits a seyp with a set of families of ghar da kammi, whose forefathers had been the seypis of the ancestors of the zamindar family. Thus, the partnership in a seyp continues for generations. Although a barber of a certain generation may not satisfy his seypi, nevertheless the contract would not be broken nor would his seypi change to another barber. It is a matter of honor and dignity for both partners to maintain the long standing relationship. So the nature of the relationship between the seypis is norather a social and moral relationship whose obligations are felt by both parties -- the zamindar and the ghar da kammi -- who have developed close and lasting bonds that are not easily broken.
Kammis, in turn, have seyp relationships with a number of other kammis. Thus a potter will have a seyp with two or more barbers, a few bakers and carpenters, and a few zamindars, all of whom he will provide with his wares and other services. But among these seypis he will have one barber, one baker, one cobbler, and one musalli whose services he will require throughout the year and who are the ones to have special functions on ceremonial occasions in his house and are to receive the laag, the money received by a house kammi from the family celebrating some important event. These are his ghar da kammi.
In a seyp neither payment nor the amount of work the kammi will be called upon to do is discussed by a zamindar and a kammi. A kammi knows approximately how much of his work a particular household will require, and both know well the customary payment. But even though a zamindar may not actually require the work of his ghar da kammi, yet he will make a minimum payment to these kammis and the relationship between the seypis is maintained. Kammis who have seyp among themselves do not pay the minimum to their seypi if they do not happen to require his services, but the relationship between the two seypis is there. Maximum services of all ghar da kammi are required for ceremonial occasions, especially at a marriage, for which these kammis receive customary presents of money, clothes, food, grain, and sweets. Consequently, to the kammis "the sons and daughters of their seypis are like their fields, and they watch their growth with the same care as one watches the growth of crops in one's fields."
As payment for his work, a kammi is entitled to a certain share in crops, and as the crops ripen he receives wheat, maize, rice, and sugarcane and fodder for his buffalo. The amount of the crop he receives varies with the work he has done and with the condition of the harvest. During an abundant harvest, a zamindar will give grain to the kammis over and above the amount customarily paid for their work; when the crop is poor, the zamindar may not be so lavish; and in a year when the crop is destroyed, the kammis will have to wait to be compensated at the next harvest.
Kammis who have seyp with other kammis pay them in grain, too. A potter who has a seyp with a barber pays him in grain at the time of the seasonal harvest. He pays according to the number of men and boys in his family whose heads the barber has had to trim during the year. The barber, in his turn, pays the potter in grain whenever he gets pots from him. But for any ceremonial event, such as birth, circumcision, marriage, or death, the barber is called in, and on these occasions he and his wife and his mother are given clothes, cotton blankets, sweets, grain, and money. If the potter thinks that the barber has been over-compensated on such occasions, he may ask him for some additional services.
In the matter of seyp, it often happens that the services of a certain kammi may seldom be required. Yet every family has a seyp with a set of kammis, and on ceremonial occasions there is no confusion or doubt as to which kammi is to render the services and is to be given the full benefit of being the seypi of that family or which barber's wife is to accompany the bride and receive the presents given her by the bridegroom's family.
Kammis do not necessarily confine themselves to their specialized craft. Those who have only a few seyps, which do not bring them sufficient income, may try to make seyps in nearby villages, but as a rule they do not move out of the village where their families have lived for generations. Or the work required of a kammi to fulfill his contracts may leave him with free time. A potter, for instance, makes his wares in bulk and delivers them to his customers at most three times a year. In consequence, all the kammis, whether by necessity or because they have spare time or spare hands in their households, have developed secondary occupations which are consistent with their traditional crafts and which serve the needs of an agricultural community. Thus a potter, besides making pots, uses his mules to transport clay and bricks for construction, brings grain and straw in from the fields, and carries rice and grain to the mills for husking and grinding. A carpenter, beside making new ploughs and keeping old ones in good repair and doing the woodwork which goes into making Persian wheels, makes cots and does the general carpentry work for the village. A baker sells fish and game in the town market and sometimes brings them to the village also; in addition, he transports straw and grain on his horses. Payment for these services is made in grain or money at the time that the work is done.
During the busy agricultural seasons, all the kammis in the village, except for barbers and mirasis, provide helping hands in the fields. At every stage of work -- planting, cultivating, harvesting, and threshing the grain, and crushing the sugarcane -- the zamindar needs some extra help. He can count on his seypis to work in his fields at least one day during each seasonal crop and pays for these services in grain at the time of the grain harvest. This grain is given in addition to what the ghar da kammi receive as seypis.
There are some occasions when the need for labor is particularly urgent, and to meet this need special arrangements are made. A zamindar may be under pressure of time to finish the work in his fields which may require numerous hands. This may happen at the time of ploughing, when the soil is drying out very rapidly or when the rains have been late so that there is little time left to plant, or it may be necessary to cut the crops in a hurry. On such occasions, a zamindar needs the help of many people and he sends word to the zamindars and kammis of his village and perhaps of neighboring villages for aid.
This work, which is done collectively for some person at his request, is known as mang, and the people who participate in such work are also called mang. In Punjabi, mang means "request," and the verb mang na similarly means "to ask." When a group of men pass by carrying their working implements, people say that they look like a mang.
The task for which collective labor is called may or may not be completed in one day, but each person who comes works for one day only. The remaining work will be completed either by the person who asked for help or he may request others to contribute their labor.
Those who come to work as mang are not paid; their work is regarded as a favor done for the host. The host, in turn, feeds them twice, and the food provided must be plentiful and of good quality -- usually including both a meat dish and a sweet. The meals are prepared by one of the village barbers with whom the zamindar has a seyp.
Mang may also be called for the sinking of a well. In many parts of Punjab, water for irrigation is obtained from wells, and most zamindars own wells or at least have a share in a well. For sinking a well, a zamindar engages three or four professionals, who are paid in money, but in addition the labor of seven or eight men is required for about a week. This labor is obtained by calling mang. Each zamindar and kammi who is invited to work contributes one day's labor. All those who come are, as usual, fed, and the host should on this occasion be especially lavish, for otherwise the well may not give water in abundance. Upon the completion of the well, sweets are distributed in the village and to those who come to visit the new well.
Roofing a house is another occasion for calling a mang. Usually the walls are built by the owner with the help of a laborer, but covering the roof with wet clay is a task that requires many hands because the layers of wet clay must be packed solid as quickly as possible before they dry out. For this reason, mang is called and the work is done in the afternoon when many people are available and the task can be completed in no more than two hours. After the roof has been covered, the owner of the house may pass a plate of brown sugar among the mang, each of whom will take a pinch. In this case, the man who has requested mang may be either a kammi or a zamindar, and both kammis and zamindars will take part in this work.
After a harvest, a kammi may have collected enough bushels of grain -- some from his seypis and some through his work as a laborer in the fields -- so that he needs help in threshing the grain. He may then request mang, as he needs the assistance of cultivators who own oxen and threshing boards. He treats them to a very good meal which is cooked by a barber.
Unlike seyp, collective labor is not a permanent arrangement in the village, nor does it stand for a binding relationship between two families. Yet it is an expression of the personal relationships existing within the village and beyond, and the significance of this relationship is not only economic but even more social and moral.
When a zamindar calls for mang, he is primarily under pressure of time at a period when everyone else is also very busy. Yet people respond by coming to help him. One may ask whether he could not, instead, have engaged laborers to complete his work and whether, by calling mang, there is some saving for him? It is difficult to find laborers during the busy season, since all of them are already working for various zamindars; secondly, a zamindar who invites mang is likely to spend as much, or even more, for the food he serves than he would have had he paid wages to laborers.
The importance of mang lies in the sphere of social relations. A zamindar who is able to assemble many people for a mang is one who has influence, has a wide circle of connections, and is much respected. For a zamindar to have his house built solely through nwng, without the employment of any paid laborers, is a matter of great prestige and proof of the influence he has and the respect he commands in the community. Thus, a good response to his request for mang is an indication of the extensiveness of his social relationships. Besides, by calling people for the mang, he is testing the effectiveness of these relationships. The economic aspect of mang -- the rapid completion of the work -- is of secondary importance to him. Of much greater importance is strengthening the social bonds that exist between him and many members of the community. By calling people to work for him, he puts himself under obligation to all those who respond and opens the way for them, in turn, freely to ask favors of him. And this is his underlying objective: alternately to be obliged and to oblige, so that the scales of the relationship never come to a perfect balance. By keeping the scales in slight imbalance, he keeps these relationships active and alive; by a continuous check he is able to evaluate how he stands with these various people.
Agriculture is the basis of Mohla's economy and land is the principal source of livelihood for all the people of this village. Yet arable land is a limited and much-valued possession. In Mohla, where there are twenty-six zamindar families, approximately one-third of the village people own land.
According to the records, the village of Mohla owns 1,092 acres of land, but approximately one-fourth of this land is under the river. However, Mohla has bought some land from Dhirke and other nearby villages. In 1857,by the Regular Settlement Act, the government allotted the original Mohla its 1,092 acres; part of this was arable land and the rest was pasturage. The first Mohla was washed away by flood, and the second Mohla was built on higher ground. Around the turn of the century, the second Mohla was also washed away, and almost all of its land was submerged. At that time many families left their native place, rented land in other villages, and became tenants. But some families remained. Among them, Nabi Bakhsh, the ancestor of the present chowdhri of Mohla, bought land from Dhirke. On this land was built Mohla proper, which exists today. At the time that Nabi Bakhsh bought the land, he distributed free plots for house sites among the zamindars and the kammi who did not go away. After some time, the river receded and some of the old land emerged. People who had left the former Mohla over twenty years before and who had settled in other villages began to return. Some settled in the village founded by Nabi Bakhsh while
others settled half a mile away near their lands which had reemerged, and in this way Lenda (West) Mohla came into being. Some of the people in Lenda Mohla built their houses on land belonging to Nabi Bakhsh, which they could have free. Others acquired land individually from Dhirke.
All these people in Mohla proper and in Lenda Mohla, who were given free house sites, do not own these plots, that is, they cannot sell them. But as long as they live in the village they have usufructuary rights which pass on to their children. Should they move away, they may sell the wood or whatever building material remains of their houses or, with the consent of the chowdhri, who is the owner, they may sell their houses without dismantling them, but with the understanding that the purchaser does not become the owner of the site on which a house stands. The village people cannot be evicted from their house sites; by virtue of having lived on a site for years and of having planted a tree, which everyone has in his courtyard, each family has full right of possession.
But this is not the case in all villages. In all the old villages, whoever settled there before or wishes to settle there now owns his house site, which he has purchased or will purchase from the patti -- also called the wand -- the section of the village in which the plot is located.
Nowadays, although the 1,092 acres which belonged to the original Mohla are still on the land records as belonging to the one village of Mohla, there actually are two villages, Mohla proper and Lenda Mohla. Of its total land, Mohla proper owns about half plus approximately 150 acres purchased from other villages. Some of this land is still submerged.
In spite of the fact that land is much valued, there are fields which lie fallow. Through subdivision by inheritance, one field may be the common property of several members of a biraderi, a patrilineage, none of whom will give up his share in favor of another even though the individual shares in the field are too minute to be cultivated. But used or unused, land is owned by the zamindars.
(In this chapter, problems of land ownership are discussed as they existed prior to the Partition and the institution of land reform.)
Though the ownership of land is the dividing line between zamindars and kammis, the interest of both is centered on the land. For the zamindar, it is important to make the land productive; to accomplish this, he needs the labor and the specialized services of the kammis. And the specialized crafts of thekammis are directly related to agriculture. Thus, the two groups are interdependent.
Exclusive ownership of land has given the zamindars, as a group, a position superior to that of thekammis, and land is the form of property for which the kammis have had the greatest longing.
Among the zamindars themselves, size of landholding is the basis on which social prestige is measured. A zamindar with large landholdings has more power, prestige, and influence, because he has more tenants and kammis who are attached to the land, work for him, and depend on him, than has azamindar who has little land and, consequently, fewer tenants, or one who tills his own land. Having more land, a zamindar has more income, entertains more people, can make more connections, can extend his influence further into official circles, and therefore can help more people and command more respect; in this way he increasingly acquires power, influence, and prestige.
Social status based on ownership of land places on the zamindar certain responsibilities toward the people with whom he has established some relationship, as has already been mentioned. In particular, the generosity which the zamindar is expected to display is closely connected to other kinds of property, which should be distributed. "Flowing water becomes clean," is a proverb often quoted by the Punjabi, which means, of course, that one should not hoard property -- that is, money or food -- because through boarding they become mekru, unclean. Rather, one should always distribute food and money; otherwise there will be no barkat, no abundance, in the house. The money will be spent on sickness; the cattle will die.
A zamindar distributes such property on every occasion: at the building of a house, the sinking of a well, the end of harvest, when a child is born, when a boy is circumcised, at times of sickness and convalescence, at a marriage, when an old person dies, and on the anniversary of the death of a person important in the family. On all such occasions, it is proper to distribute food, fruit, sweets, and money in the village, and each time a distribution takes place the zamindar'sizzet -- prestige, honor, and status -- is increased. The more he gives, the more izzet he gains. As the Punjabi say, "One collects either property or izzet."
However, while his izzet is increased by the kind of property that represents income from the land, it is equally, or even to a greater degree, increased by the purchase of land which adds to the size of his holdings. Land itself is not a type of property which a zamindar would willingly part with. He may share food and money with others but not land, for this is the source of his izzet, and he identifies his land with his pat,lai, or patlaj, which, like izzet, are words referring to power, honor, influence, respect, prestige, and status.
Since to a zamindar land is the source of his power, he wants to keep it in his line. This strong feeling on the part of a zamindar for his land was recognized in and was well protected by the customary laws of inheritance. According to these laws, land remains in the male line -- it is passed from father to son, none going to the daughters under normal circumstances. When a zamindar dies without leaving male issue, however, his daughters do inherit. If then a daughter leaves no issue, after her death the land is claimed by her father's brother, her father's brother's son, her father's father's brother's son, or indeed, it may be claimed by any male who can trace a connection in the male line to her father, that is, by any man who belongs to her father's biraderi, his patrilineage.
But an inheriting daughter who has sons passes land on to them. This land, inherited from the maternal line, is called nanki virsa,
literally, property inherited from the mother's side. Men who inherit nanki virsa belong to a biraderi other than the one to which their mother's father belonged.
Customary law is concerned not only with inheritance of land, but also with its sale and purchase. In the village, the land belonging to the members of a biraderi is found in one patti, one section, of the village -- all the separate holdings contiguous to each other, never scattered in two or more of the patti which form the village. A zamindar cannot sell his land at his own pleasure; rather, he must show some valid reason for doing so, such as the need to finance the education or marriage of his children or the wish to purchase another piece of land. Also his closest male kin have the first right to buy any such property: his brother, his brother's sons, his father's brother's sons, or else any other man in hisbiraderi, the closest kin having priority over the others. Only if no one in his biraderi is willing to buy the land can it be sold to another zamindar of the village; and only if no village purchaser is found can it be sold to an outsider.
These restrictions apply to jedi virsa, land inherited from ancestors in the male line. However, if a man wishes to sell land which he himself has previously acquired by purchase, he does not need to prove the necessity for the sale. But even then, where the sale of purchased land is involved, the tahsildar,the land revenue official, will make inquiries and will not confirm the sale unless it has been announced and the biraderis of the seller have had an opportunity to express any objections they may have. For just as a family wishes to keep its land within its own male line, so the biraderis want to keep the land owned by their various branches within the kin group. They do not want to have any strangers in their midst.
In almost every village there is an on-going struggle for power among the different biraderis of zamindarand often among the members of one biraderi as well. They have formed their own parties and have achieved some sort of balance of power in the village, and for this reason they feel that an outsider would take
advantage of the struggle, would involve himself in village politics to gain power and prestige for himself, and thus would upset the existing balance.
However, this is not the only reason the biraderis resent outsiders. Every zamindar has a great attachment to and a deep feeling for his land, his biraderi, and his native village. Together with the ancestral land, he has inherited relationships with his biraderi, with the village people, and the neighborhood. These relationships have been built up through generations of interaction. And though there may have been ups and downs in these relationships -- for there is always rivalry for power and prestige among the biraderis, one's own and the others in the village -- nevertheless, to the zamindarthis is his own biraderi, or the biraderi of his village, and this is his own village. No newcomer, it is believed, can feel the same way about land acquired by purchase or as nanki virsa. Loyalty and attachment belong to a man's own biraderi and to his own paternal village.
The outsider who has purchased land may give it to a tenant, who may then cause great inconvenience to the biraderi, with whom he has no long standing relationships. Or, if the new purchaser settles in the village himself and if the property is large, in order to manage it he must engage labor among the kammis of the village. So he will attempt to gain power and influence quickly by unduly favoring the kammis and thus will spoil their relationships with the zamindars of the village which have existed for generations. Moreover, since he has no actual biraderi to support him in this village -for "biraderi is power" -- in order to get a foothold and to feel secure, he will intrigue and will form a party of kammis and zamindars who have grievances against other zamindars or who want to exploit the situation; by so doing he will disrupt the existing organization of the village.
On the other hand, if he is not pleased with the kammis of this new village or prefers to favor thekammis of his native village, he may engage the latter to work on his newly purchased land, and
The Amir brothers inherited nanki virsa in the village of Jamke in the district of Gujranwala. It was a large property, and in order to manage it they needed influence and power. So they became involved in village politics, formed a party of their own, and fought with the other parties. In one such fight, a member of a local biraderi was murdered. This roused great antagonism, and it became very difficult for everyone to have them continue to live in the village.
Men who inherit nanki virsa may, instead of trying to form a party of their own, attempt to join and seek the protection of an existing local party. The Tarar brothers inherited land as nanki virsa in the village of Mohla. Their father's property was in Mitha Chak, a village eighteen miles away, and as it was smaller than the nanki virsa, four of the brothers came to settle in Mohla while the fifth remained in their native village to manage the property there. After some time, one of the brothers had a love affair with his mother's sister's daughter, who lived in the neighboring village. The girl became pregnant, and herbiraderis were very angry and wanted to beat up the four brothers. One of the Tarar brothers came to the chowdhri of Mohla and begged for help for "they had no biraderi in Mohla to support them." Thechowdhri promised his protection, and no one dared to attack them. Now the four men are quite well assimilated in the village, but whenever they try to intrigue or to form a party, they are immediately reminded that they do not belong to Mohla.
After having lived in Mohla for twenty years, they hurt the feelings of the local kammis by doing them an injustice on the occasion of the marriage of their sister. According to custom, when thebride leaves for the home of her parents-in-law for the first time, she is accompanied by the wife of the village barber, who in this capacity is called a dayin and is entitled to receive a substantial gift from the parents-in-law of the bride -- a buffalo or golden ornaments worth 125-150 rupees. But instead of asking the barber's wife in Mohla, who had been their seypi for years and was looking forward to the occasion to receive the gift, the Tarar brothers brought in a mirasin, the wife of the village bard, from their original village. The mirasin accompanied the bride and received the present, and everyone in the village felt indignant. Besides, the brothers called the kammis from their native village to help at the marriage ceremonies and distributed laag, the money given to kammis on big occasions, among them. By so doing, they disregarded the rights of the kammis who had become their seypis in Mohla as well as of all the other kammis who belonged in this village.
This situation proved again how little an outsider cares for the people, the relationships, and the collective unity basic to village organization.
Land cultivation is a year-round occupation. The farmer has times of intense work followed by relatively slack seasons. 1 His two busiest periods are the seasons of summer and autumn harvesting and planting.
For the farmer the sun and the rain are the two main factors in connection with agriculture. The scorching heat of the summer sun and the time of year when the rain starts, its intensity, and duration are of greatest importance to him. Midsummer is the usual time for the monsoon rains. Before the rains come, to have a blazing sun, when even birds look for a shady nook, is a blessing to the farmer, who works all day long to get through the most intensive work of the year, the harvesting of the main crops -- wheat, barley, and gram -- which he had planted the previous fall.
The much awaited monsoon brings hope on the one hand and despair on the other. The farmer is full of hope, for the rains mean enough water to start the planting of the paddy, but if the rains last too long this means flood, and flood is destructive. It may demolish his house, destroy his fields, leave the standing sugarcane and fodder covered with mud, and carry away the straw stored for the cattle.
Nevertheless, with the first shower he is busy planting the paddy. After that, until the early fall, he has little to do except for the
routine work of caring for his cattle, cutting and preparing fodder for them, weeding the paddy fields, and, if there is a long interval between the rains, irrigating the fields. Thus between his hopes and fears, the time goes on, and if the monsoon rains do not cause devastation he has his autumn crop of paddy and also millet and maize.
The autumn harvest, kharif, also known as sauni, starts in the
FIGURE 1. FARMER'S CALENDAR
middle of September and continues through November. This is a very busy season, for the farmer has both to harvest the crops in the different fields as they ripen and to prepare for sowing the fallow fields that have been lying under water during the rainy season and are now drying out. If the soil has retained the dampness of the rains, it is easier for him to plough, but if it has not rained, the soil is dry and he has to irrigate these fields, which is extra work and takes much time. It takes at least sixteen hours to irrigate each
field. With a plough drawn by a pair of oxen, it takes him one day to plough one field thoroughly, and he has to plough each field at least four or five times. In these fields he sows the main crops of the year -- wheat, barley, and gram. At the same time he also plants the winter vegetables -- carrots, turnips, radishes, cauliflower, and lentils. Also in the late fall the paddy is ripe and he must harvest it. So this is a period of intense activity, when the farmer may need all of the twenty-four hours of a day for work. If he can get it, he asks for help.
This season of intensive work is followed by a period of relative rest, the three winter months, when, if it rains, as it usually does, the crop sown in the fall will grow abundantly, producing plenty of fodder for the cattle. However, if it does not rain, the farmer must irrigate the wheat and other crops, the vegetables, and also the fields which are to be ploughed and prepared for the early spring sowing. If it were not for the lack of fodder, this would be an easy period for him. If he has stored enough wheat, barley, and gram, he grinds them coarsely and mixes them with hay to feed his animals. They are then well fed. But usually he does not have enough; then he cuts off the tops of sugarcane and collects grass, if there are lowlands nearby, but he still has a hard time keeping his animals fed.
In the early spring he plants sugarcane, tobacco, fodder, chili peppers, melons, and summer vegetables in the fields he ploughed during the winter months.
In the late spring he is free, but he is under great pressure of food shortage in this "thirteenth month," as he calls it. It is the period when the supply of wheat and other grains is exhausted, the new crop is still in the fields, and he has to manage by borrowingbut no one has enough to lend anyone else. Though it is a brief period, it is a difficult one and seems very long.
Then in the summer, the wheat, barley, and gram are again ready to be harvested. This is the summer harvest, rabi, commonly known as haṛi, the busiest period of the year for everyone. The
crop must be cut, threshed, and winnowed, and all the people who have been working for the farmer during the past year must be paid in grain. The grain for the year must be stored away, as also the straw for the animals. During this busy period of harvest, he has also to irrigate the fields of tobacco, chilies, sugarcane, fodder, and summer vegetables, which he planted in the early spring, for now the days are hot and dry. He also plants a nursery for the paddy, cotton, and the fodder which he always needs for his cattle.
After he has stored the wheat and has collected the tobacco, the farmer has plenty and for one month there is not much to do, except for the routine work of weeding, turning the soil, irrigating, and taking care of the cattle.
This is the month of country fairs which the farmer attends, where he listens to music and singing, watches wrestling, horse races, and native games, eats sweets and fruits, and enjoys life thoroughly.
Then the cycle of work begins anew.
While the work of the farmer is to cultivate the land and to take care of the cattle, the work of the farmer's wife -- besides her regular tasks of cooking, washing, and house cleaning -- is to store, preserve, and make ready for consumption the produce of the land and of the cattle.
She molds large clay bins for storing the yearly supply of wheat and plasters them inside and out before the new crop is to come in. After the rainy season, she plasters the roof, on which wheat is spread to dry, for during the rains everything becomes moldy. If there are worms in the grain, her husband will winnow the grain before it is stored again. From this wheat she brings out as much as is needed for a week, cleans and grinds it as she finds time. Some of it she grinds several times; she keeps this very fine flour for making sweets or vermicelli.
While the paddy is not yet fully ripe, the farmer brings some of it home, where the wife threshes and roasts it and mixes it with
sugar and sesame seeds to be chewed in the afternoons by young girls and women. She sends some to her married daughter and to relatives who live in localities where rice is not grown, and gives some to friends and neighbors whose paddy is not ready yet and also to the wives of the craftsmen who work for her family. This mixture of rice, sugar, and sesame seeds is a delicacy and a special treat for it cannot be bought.
Then in the fall the cotton is ready. If cotton is grown as a cash crop, there will be several women to pick it and they are paid in kind; but if there is only one field, then the farmer's wife takes with her the wife of a craftsman for whom it is a favor to be allowed to help pick the cotton for she will get some also.
Once the cotton is brought home, the farmer's wife dries it, grades it for quality, beats it with a stick until the dried leaves and dust sticking to it pass through the holes of the cot on which it has been placed, and passes it through a small wooden ginning machine to remove the seeds, which are used to feed the cattle. She then gives it to the weaver who fluffs it out, after which she makes small rolls, which she will spin during the long winter evenings when a few women friends will come together to chat and spin. Some of the thread she spins is coarse and some very fine, depending on how it will be used -- whether for native blankets, cloth for ordinary use, or cloth for men's shirts. She then takes the skeins to the weaver, who starches the thread to serve as the warp and weaves it for her.
When the chilies ripen in the fields, she collects them and makes pickles. Pickles are an important item in the diet throughout the year; besides the green chilies she also pickles lemons, green mangoes, and sometimes horseradish. Some of the chilies are left in the field to be picked after they have turned red; these are dried and stored to be used in nearly every dish.
When the maize is ripe, she breaks it from the stalks, and at home husks it and dries it; then some evening she calls some strong adolescent boys, who beat the corn with clubs to separate the grain
When the bulk of the paddy crop is brought home, the farmer's wife dries it and sends it to be husked at the mill, which begins to work in winter. After it comes back from the mill, she separates the whole grains of rice from the broken ones by passing them through a sieve. The whole grain is roasted and stored, for the best rice is at least two years old and is used on special occasions. The rest of the rice is for daily use.
Fresh sugarcane is brought home to be sucked by men, women, and children. But the larger part of the sugarcane is crushed, boiled, and made into brown sugar; this work is done by the men in a special place in the fields. Brown sugar is used throughout the year in food and in tea, fed to the cattle, and also distributed on special occasions.
During the harvest season, the farmer's wife goes gleaning. She also plasters the threshing ground in the fields. During the year she raises chickens and, whenever she can spare them, sells the eggs to a hawker who goes through the villages.
Unlike the months from spring through autumn, when hardly a man is to be seen in the village, for all are working in the fields, winter is the season when the throb of life is felt outside the mud walls of the compounds, especially on the side of the village which faces south and gets the most sun. Winter days are warm and sunny; as it is much warmer outside than inside the houses, people spend the day outdoors.
Men go out into the morning sun and warm themselves until they feel ready to go to work, their main concern during this slack agricultural season being to provide fodder for the cattle. They choose sunny spots and sit in small groups smoking the huka, each man passing it on to the next after he has inhaled no more than three times. Some are lounging on the ground and some on the cots crowded in a sunny place. One of them is reciting verses of a popular Punjabi poem which they all know and never tire of hearing. Landowners and craftsmen, zamindars and kammis, sit in the same group; a zamindarmay sit or lie on a cot while a kammi perches on its edge or squats on the ground or on the low wall of the compound surrounding the men's guest house.
Most of the craftsmen worked in the fields during the busy agricultural season and helped the farmer in ploughing, irrigating, and harvesting, for then agricultural work is the main source of income. But now they can devote their time to their crafts which bring them additional income.
The cobbler is working in his workshop, which is in one corner of his house. The tailor sits cross legged in front of his sewing machine on the veranda of his house. His wife helps him; both are kept very busy, for very few of the village women ever use a needle. One weaver stretches cotton yarn across an unploughed field, and his wife and daughter help him to starch it. The other weavers work in a special place protected by a roof and a wall on one side, each sitting in a pit in front of his handloom, weaving cotton blankets or coarse cloth. A musalli, agricultural laborer, weaves straw mats on the porch of a house which looks like a city house; he is the caretaker of this place whose owners live in the city but still maintain a house in the village where they have relatives and own land.
The potter made the bulk of his earthenware utensils and delivered them to his clients well before the harvest. During the harvest he helped with the transport of grain to the market and to the houses. Now he transports clay and sand and the sun-dried bricks used in construction. He also collects dung from his clients and stores it for use in his kiln.
The baker is also busy, for winter is the fishing season. By occupation, the baker is a hunter of small game and a fisherman, although those who live far away from the rivers and large ponds do not practice this occupation. During the summer the baker collected and stored enough fuel to heat the oven in which his wife bakes bread. Now the few bakers of the village, all of whom are relatives,biraderis, are settled near the bank of the river, which is a short distance away, and come home only occasionally. They sell their catch of fish at the city market, but two or three times during the fishing season they bring fish to the village to give to their clients who have their bread baked in their ovens. This gift is made in the same spirit as is shown by the landowner when he sends a little of the first crop of fruit, grain, or vegetables to his friends and to the craftsmen who work for his family. And the baker's wife who brings a gift of fish to her clients is not sent away empty handed,
but is given some grain. Bakers do not usually sell fish in their village, for they have a contract with a fish dealer in the city, but if people request them to bring some fish, which is regarded as a strengthening food and as one good for curing colds, they will do so.
The musallin+̄, the wife of an agricultural laborer, also is busy in the village, going with her large broom to the houses of the landowners for whom she works. There she sweeps the courtyard where the sucked sugarcane, the vegetable peels, the corn cobs, and every other kind of refuse have been carelessly thrown on the ground throughout the day. She also collects the dung at the place where the buffaloes were tied, shapes them into round cakes, and sticks them on the outside wall, where they look like a magnified honeycomb. Little girls, too, collect dung in the streets and shape it into dung cakes, which they take home to be used as fuel.
While the craftsmen follow their professions, providing for the cattle, especially in the winter months when fodder is short, is a task of primary importance to everyone, landowner and craftsman. In winter, the cattle remain in the village. Although most people have separate rooms for cattle in their courtyards or, if they do not, keep them in someone else's cattle stall, in the daytime the cattle are tied in the sunshine. Men and boys over ten go to the fields to weed and return carrying on their heads loads of fodder so huge that they can scarcely be seen under them. Once a day the cattle are taken to the pond to drink and to wade.
Cattle are of the utmost importance to this agricultural people. A farmer needs cattle for the plough and at the well. Cattle droppings are used as fertilizer, and the kammis also use them as fuel. Besides, cattle are a source of food and of income for all the village people, zamindars and kammis alike. A family which has a buffalo is provided for. Although there are a few cows, people prefer to have a buffalo. Cattle give them milk, from which they get buttermilk and butter, some of which is clarified to make ghi.Some of the ghi is used by the families themselves, but the women try to save
People take good care of their cattle and feed them before they eat their own meal. When a buffalo calves, the family rejoices greatly, for in three years the young buffalo will be worth a considerable sum of money. When a visitor comes, he inquires after the health of the family and also asks if the host's buffalo is giving milk, for a wet buffalo means that the family is at ease. The death of a buffalo is deeply mourned. On such occasions neighbors and friends and people from the neighboring villages come to offer condolences. To sympathize in sorrow is part of the exchange relationship existing between the villages.
By the time the sun is quite high, the woman at home has finished her morning chores. She rose before sunrise and in the dim light of a small lamp started to grind the grain. The sound of the grinding mill reaches the children in their beds, but they sleep on. Then she begins to churn the milk; in spring and summer she would churn outside, but now this is done in the room. The children wake up, but still remain for some time in bed, while the mother lets the chickens out from under the large basket with which they were covered at night. Then she kneads the dough and lights the fire. The children come outside and warm themselves near the hearth. They do not change their clothes for they sleep in the same clothes they wear during the day. They eat bread with butter and pickles, drink buttermilk, and go to the mosque.
Not every woman cooks on winter mornings. Some give the children bread or rice from the previous evening with buttermilk. In some houses people eat both breakfast and lunch, but other women prefer to prepare an early lunch. Children hardly wash their hands and faces in the mornings, for they are cold and the mother doesn't insist too much. She will wash them in the afternoon when it gets warm, and will change their clothes. The woman herself changes into fresh clothes in the afternoon, after she has finished her work, has washed, and has combed her hair; she finds little time in the morning to attend to her toilette.
Men do not wash themselves at home. They go either to the well or to the bath attached to the mosque. A man wraps himself in an old sheet and sits in the sun while his wife washes and dries his clothes.
After the children leave, the woman washes the dishes from the previous evening and from the morning, and feeds the chickens. She rolls up the bedding and puts it away, and carries the cots out into the courtyard for they are used during the day. A neighbor may stop in for a few minutes, but morning is a busy time.
The smoke rising over the walls of the baker's house is a sign that the oven is being heated. The baker's wife heats the oven twice before noon on winter mornings -- for the people who eat an early lunch and for those who eat after noon. The baker's wife, as she works, squats by the side of an earthenware oven sunk in the ground. A small roof protects her from too much sunshine. Other women squat around her with their earthenware platters of dough which they shape into flat round breads and pass to the baker's wife to stick to the sides of the heated oven. For every eight loaves baked, she lays aside a piece of dough for one loaf as payment for her work. But even though she is paid every time bread is baked, at harvest time the zamindars who are her customers send her some grain. While they wait for their bread to be baked, women's tongues are as busy as their hands. This is the social club for women, where they exchange all the news and gossip of the village: how many outfits a certain woman brought from her visit to her parents' home; how, to spite her daughter-in-law, a farmer's mother was trying to persuade her son to take a second wife; and how the
weavers threatened to leave the village unless the daughter of a weaver who had eloped with the son of a poor zamindar was returned to her parents.
The bread baked, the woman goes home and places an earthenware pot with lentils on the fire, or sometimes she will crush radishes or mint with salt and red chilies to be eaten with bread. In the evenings she may cook some vegetables, carrots or turnips which she or her children may have picked in the fields. During the day there will usually come women vendors of the arain+̄, the vegetable growers' caste, who bring vegetables from the neighboring village.
As the sun rises higher and if the well is working, some women go there with their laundry, which they have soaked in boiling water and washing soda, and, placing a washboard under the running water, they beat the clothes with a wooden club, rub them with soap, and rinse them out. They spread the clothes to dry on the grass in the fields next to the well. The dry clothes are not ironed. While the clothes are drying, a woman squats and washes herself in a small enclosure through which a thick jet of water from the well runs on its way to the fields. When the well is working, it is always a busy place.
While the little children are playing by the well, the older boys are in the mosque, where they go for an hour every day to learn to read the Koran from the village imam, and the girls study in the imam'shouse under the tutoring of his wife. This is the extent of the children's formal education. There are thirty chapters in the Koran containing altogether one hundred and fourteen suras, or sections, and most of the boys will not get beyond the third chapter. Instead, they help their fathers in their work and thus, if their fathers are kammis, learn their fathers' trade. All boys learn how to cultivate the land and take care of the cattle. The girls are more ambitious in their studies. Some may finish reading the Koran, an occasion on which the imam and his wife will get new outfits, a tray of food, and, if the girl's parents are well off, even a young
buffalo. Otherwise, for his teaching, the parents send the imam a bushel of grain at each harvest.
Boys and girls play together. Little girls, carrying their baby siblings on their hips, join the other children in their play, and all treat the babies with great affection. Whenever there is a gathering, children are there. If they make noise while the men are gathered to discuss a matter of importance, someone may warn them, but never strictly. Yet the children are taught to speak and behave with respect toward any older person, whatever his status.
Children come home in time for lunch. They know by looking at the sun when the time comes and do not need to be called.
The village imam comes in to collect his bread, for every house gives him one bread and he gets two at the house of the chowdhri, where he also gets a tray of food on Thursday evenings.
The afternoon is the time for leisure and for visiting. A few women neighbors may drop in, and they all sit crowded together on a cot. Someone may read the popular poem, for women love it, too. The barber's wife or his mother may drop in, but she does not stay very long for she is on her way to thechowdhri's house where she will wash and comb and braid the chowdhrani's hair and will also massage her body, for this is her duty.
The children come running in from the street, for the vendor of bangles has come. The man stays in the lane and sends in the bangles and tells the price. Women and girls love to wear glass bangles. The wife and the sister of the chowdhri have gold bracelets, but just the same the colorful bangles appeal to them as well. The bangles, which should fit snugly just above the wrist, are tried on and even baby girls get a set of them for each arm.
Women also love earrings, and some have nose plugs. Only old women do not wear ornaments, except for the old chowdhrani, who wears a gold ring. Little girls are given silver or gold earrings when they are about five. Old women have a number of holes around the edge of each ear, but that is a past fashion; the younger ones have
only one hole in each lobe. The ear plug is seldom worn and although some of the young women have had their nose pierced, they do not wear a nose plug. No little girl, with the exception of the imam'sdaughter, has her nose pierced nowadays. In this district people follow closely the fashion that emanates from Lahore and reaches the small towns nearby.
The women know the latest design in yard goods as well. A vendor of cloth passes twice a week through the village, and the women examine the cloth he carries, inquire about prices, and may buy material for a shirt or a headscarf or a tahmud, a cloth draped around the waist that hangs down to the ankles. It is not easy to buy material for a whole outfit, and the three piece costume is seldom replaced at once. So the bright color of the headscarf stands out against the faded cloth beneath it. However, women like to dye their clothes, especially their headscarves, to match the rest of their costumes, and the village shop is never short of dyes. Once in ten days the zamindar woman herself goes to the city. She may go with the barber's mother or with some wives of kammis. There she buys groceries, cottonseed for the buffalo, and goes through the cloth shops.
There are always people from the outside who pass through the village. There are the vendors who sell children's toys, cheap crockery, and fruit; the men who pewter the copper pots; in summer, the ice cream man; a juggler; a man with a trained monkey and a bear; a group of professionals whose specialty it is to sing a lullaby to a baby; a village bard who travels with an orphaned son; a traveling fakir; a beggar -- all stop on their way to the villages beyond. The fakir knocks on the door and announces that he is a fakir; the beggar begs in the name of God. They usually know which are the doors to knock at, and people give them grain or food -- never leftovers, for that is a sin.
The children run home in midafternoon to get some grain to have roasted at the baker's. The little girls tie a handful in the corner of
their headscarves; the little boys put it in the side pocket of their shirts. The mother at the same time offers some in a copper plate placed in front of her visitors.
In the men's guest house, a small group of men play cards-a cobbler, the driver of a carriage who has come back from the city early in the afternoon, a zamindar, and the old servant of the chowdhri. A few men are also watching them. They play bridge and trumpet card, and are intent on playing their best, for they never play for money but are proud to play well.
Late in the afternoon some men come in from the fields laden with huge piles of fodder. Others go home to milk the buffaloes. The children are already at home, playing in the courtyard.
As sunset nears, a few men go to the mosque to take their ablutions. Women who pray take their ablutions at home. Sunset is announced by the chanting of the call to prayer from the veranda of the mosque. Silence falls on the men sitting outside, as each says a prayer in his heart. Women pray on small mats spread in the courtyards or on the verandas of their homes. When the prayer is over, the men go home for their evening meal. But on their way they stop and gaze toward the west, where in the darkening sky they can discern the silver thread of the crescent moon. Everyone waits for the new moon, and after saying a prayer while looking at the moon they disperse.
The evening meal is served right after sunset. The family squat near the hearth, except for the father who sits on a cot and is served there. After the meal, men get together in small groups. If they have work or some intrigue to discuss, they will visit each other's houses; otherwise they leave their houses and go outside to the places they usually frequent -- the men's guest house, the place where some wealthy landowner keeps his cattle, or the workshop of the cobbler who always keeps a fresh huka.Young men and boys join the older men or sit and tell stories or guess at riddles.
Women also visit in the evenings. Young and old sit together. Young girls vie with one another in spinning. Girls and small boys
stay with the women and soon fall asleep. The women move the cots. Children up to ten sleep with mothers, aunts, and grandmothers.
In the life of the village people, which is close to nature, the moon is not only a source of light but also means safety and joy. The new moon brings new hope and gladness and serenity to the people; seeing it, they give the glad tidings to one another, "The new moon!"
During the dark of the moon, people are afraid of thefts, for the great majority of thefts occur in the few nights preceding the appearance of the new moon. Then as the people watch the new moon they feel safer, and toward the fifteenth of the moon, when the village is bathed in its light, a man can leave his house open as he would in the daytime.
A farmer working at the well or a fisherman going to the river much prefers a moonlit night. Men and women like to visit on such nights. Young men and adolescent boys roam in the fields and sing and frolic. When someone from another village is asked to visit, he says he will come on a moonlit night.
Everything becomes quiet after the night prayer. The only sound heard is the tinkling of the bells of the buffaloes working at the well, the regular flow of the water, and the song of a young man who is working at the well the whole night.
While agricultural activities follow the seasons and are closely related to the cycle of rain and sun, religious activities are closely related to the moon. With regard to the time for ploughing, sowing, and harvesting the different crops, people know and use the Punjabi months, a farmer's calendar, but when it comes to the practice of their religion, they use the lunar months of the Muslim calendar. 1
However, most people know the names only of those of the lunar months which mark special religious holidays. People always watch the waxing and the waning of the moon, and women count the days of the moon, for the eleventh day of each moon is the day for charity. Then, in homes that are better off, rice, bread, and some meat dish are prepared in abundance and distributed among the people. Women and children know well which house has cooked food for distribution and are ready with their bowls to receive it. The children of both kammis and poor zamindars come to get this food, but among women, only the wives of kammis would come.
On the twelfth day of Rabi-ul-Avval, which is the third month of the Muslim calendar, people celebrate the birth of the Prophet, the Id Milad, the festival of nativity. On that day well-to-do zamindars
and kammis cook rice, the imam says a prayer over it, and then it is distributed in the village.
Each month brings people closer to the holy month of Ramzan, of fasting, which is the ninth month of the Muslim calendar. By praying, fasting, and abstaining from all indulgences, by being kind and just, people feel that they may share in the blessings of God which abound during this month of Ramzan.
Two weeks before the fast begins, people celebrate the night of Shab-e-barat, which they believe is the time when the destinies of people are fixed for the year ahead and when the names of those who are to die during the year are taken off the list up above. People cook special food and give food to the poor in the village and to beggars, and those who have quarreled make up.
During the month of Ramzan, men and women fast, that is, they do not eat or drink or smoke during the day until sunset. After the evening meal they eat once more before sunrise. They watch the stars and know when it is time to eat. Then the baker heats the oven and knocks on the doors of his clients and tells them to bring the dough to be baked in his oven. During the day people go about their work as usual, but they pray more and most men assemble for the evening prayer at the mosque, where at sunset they break their fast by eating one date or drinking a glass of milk or a sweetened drink, such as lemonade. Throughout the month, the houses of well-to-do kammis and zamindars send to the mosque pitchers of soft, sweetened drinks or fruit for the men when they break their fast. After the evening prayer is said, people go home for their meal. Toward the end of Ramzan, the sky is scanned eagerly for the new moon which heralds the day of Id, the holiday. Even though it is cloudy, there is always someone who brings the news from the city that the next day is the Id.
Early in the morning of this day, women cook sweet vermicelli, which they have been preparing during the preceding month. Everybody wears festive clothes. All the men and the adolescent boys go to the mosque to pray. Swings are tied from the trees for
the children. Young girls come in groups to the house of the chowdhri and to the houses of their friends and beat on empty pitchers and sing songs. Following the regular practice in Islam, every house, except for the poorest, gives away grain to the poor and the crippled; the amount given is in accordance with the number of people in the donor's household, including the servants. The kammiscome to greet the zamindars and receive freshly cooked food and newly baked bread and money. A tray of food is sent to a married daughter if she is in a nearby village.
It is the women who are in charge of the distribution, for it is they who know what and how much should be given and to whom. They cook, or have the barber cook, the food which they themselves distribute to those who come to the house; to those who may not be able to come, they send a plate of food by the barber's wife.
People also know the month of Haj, when pilgrimage is made to Mecca, for to make that pilgrimage is the most cherished wish of men and women. There may even be someone from the village who will go on the pilgrimage. Before the person, man or woman, departs, all the relatives are called to come and stay for a few days. The relatives bring clothes or money for the person who is leaving, and the family cooks and distributes food in great quantities in the village, as well as giving gifts of clothes to the daughters, the nieces, and the granddaughters, and gifts of money to the kammis and the poor.
On the Id-ul-Bakr, the day following the Haj or the tenth day of the month of Haj, in accordance with the practice of Islam, people celebrate the holiday by sacrificing a sheep, or several families join together and sacrifice a cow. The meat of the sacrificed animal is cut into small pieces which are mixed up so the whole is of uniform quality. This meat is divided into three equal parts. One part is for the kin, one for the household, and one for non-kin, actually the poor. The portion for the kin is placed on plates corresponding in number to the number of households of relatives in the village, and these are sent to their homes. The portion for the
non-kin is distributed among the people who come to the house to ask for it; these may be kammiwomen, the wives and children of poor zamindars, or beggars. Sometimes meat is sent to those who are poor but are unable to come. The portion set aside for the house may not be entirely used by the household, because as the poor come they are not turned away but are given from that portion of meat also. To sacrifice an animal is obligatory for those who can afford it; but sometimes a poor man may have a desire to sacrifice an animal and will do so. On one such holiday in Mohla, three cows and five sheep were sacrificed. All the people of the village had meat to eat. People see to it that no one is left out.
And then people know the first month of the Muslim calendar, Muharram, the month of mourning. At this time men and young boys repair the graves. People send for fresh flowers, say a prayer over them, and strew petals of roses, jasmin, and marigold over the graves.
On the tenth day of Muharram, well-to-do zamindars and kammis cook plenty of rice and sweet syrup for distribution. Everybody in the village knows which houses have cooked food for the occasion. The wives of poor kammis of the village go there and are given rice and syrup in small cups and saucers which have been made to order by the potter. Children of the rich and poor alike flock to those houses and are given rice and syrup. The custom is never to refuse food to children.
The month of Muharram is followed by the month of Safar, which according to local belief is a month of great hardships in the history of Islam. Much charity is given during this month, and when the beggars appear at the door people give them larger amounts of grain than they would at other times of the year. A rich zamindar may give two to four pounds of wheat. (In the course of one year, the house of the chowdhri of Mohla gave about 400 pounds of grain to beggars.) Beggars are also given clothes.
The seventh month of the Muslim calendar is Rajjab. Some people do not know it by name, but they know that this is the month of
giving zakat, the annual assessment imposed by Islam on one's excess property. No one is forced to give; a person's own conscience compels him to give. People assess their property -- houses, with the exception of the house they live in, livestock, golden ornaments, money in the bank or hoarded money, profits made in business -and compute 2.5 percent of its total value and give this money to the poor and the sick, widows and orphans. This is zakat. People believe that by giving zakat their property becomes pak, purified and blessed, and will always be under the protection of God. They also believe that a man who is honest in giving his zakat will be blessed in any enterprise and will profit from it.
The other months of the lunar calendar do not stand out clearly in people's minds, for they are not important to them. Besides celebrating the holidays, at different times of the year people go to attendurs -- the anniversary of the death of some pir, religious leader, held at his tomb. The celebrations are organized by the descendants of the pir or by his disciples who for this occasion cook great quantities of food. All the followers of the pir come together. They bring gifts of money, ghi, grain, and cotton blankets, which go to the caretaker of the place.
People pray, fast, celebrate religious holidays, welcome the new moon, do charity, know about the fundamental tenets of Islam, and some can and do read the Koran -- that is part of their daily life. Their attitude is that God is with them, not to punish but to help. At a time of flood, when the soaked walls of their houses tumble down in a heap and the cattle are carried away in a muddy torrent, they help one another to collect what is left of their possessions and, the moment the waters withdraw, start to build their houses again. There is no feeling of despair or of challenge. God is never against them, "He knows best." People will look wistfully at their wasted fields after a swarm of locusts has devoured the standing crop and say, "It's the will of Allah." At a time of death, they mourn but
never feel that the death was a punishment from above, for "Allah knows what is best for them."
Many women in the village pray regularly five times a day and fast during the whole month of Ramzan. Some women seldom pray, but most of them fast. A few men pray regularly, even when they are in the fields; when they are in the village they go to the mosque. The rest keep hushed silence wheneverazan is chanted. On Fridays more men attend the village mosque, and some go to the city to pray. On Id all the men and all the boys in the village go to the mosque for the morning prayer. People know the fundamentals of their religion, which are so interwoven with their lives that they are a way of life to them.
However, people try to go beyond the practices of formalized religion in their understanding. They seek for the real meaning in prayer, fasting, and other religious practices. Many question the purpose of man's existence. They feel that man has been created for some higher purpose, but that his striving to satisfy his earthly needs has forced him away from the suratum mustakim -- the straight path. Consciousness of not being on the straight path makes people wonder and question themselves. Most men and women at some time in their lives, after they have struggled within themselves, come to the point at which they feel the need for spiritual guidance. The village imam serves only the needs of the formalized rituals of religion. People feel that in order to discipline themselves so as to reach God they need the help of someone who is on the straight path, and for this guidance they turn to the pirs, the spiritual leaders.
People strive to reach God through prayer and contemplation and by reciting poetry -- the popular romantic poems Hir Ranja and Saif-ul-Mulk, in which the love of man and woman is symbolic of the love of God. Each one has to reach God through his own efforts, for that experience can neither be explained nor taught but should be achieved by the seeker himself.
The path to reach God is open to all, rich or poor, man or woman. A poor cobbler -- as happened in Mohla -- who is further ahead on this straight path than a rich zamindar has the respect of everybody. This spiritual struggle is the essence of the religious life of the people and it unites those who seek and those who have the desire to seek but have not yet reached the point at which they feel ready for spiritual guidance.
At least once a year people invite to the village a pir under whose guidance they seek "to attain" their way. Some families have their own pir, on whom they call whenever they feel the need, to whom they make contributions, and whom they sometimes invite to a big meal, feeling honored by his presence. This would be the pir who has the largest following in the village and the vicinity.
Before the coming of the pir, young boys and men whitewash the mosque, clean the vacant plot in front, draw white lines on the ground leading to the mosque, and plant green branches beside them, forming an allée. Colored paper streamers fly from strings stretched across the compound of the mosque. A big armchair and a table are placed for the pir on the veranda of the mosque. The neighboring villages are notified of the date of the coming of the pir.
In the late afternoon of the day, the pir and his retinue are met by a group of men on the outskirts of the village and are royally entertained at the house of one of the pir's followers. Sometimes it is thechowdhri's family who sends the food. Later, fruit, raisins, and small pieces of sweets from the pir'stable are given to as many people as possible in the village, for this food is tabaruk, that is, it carries blessings with it.
In the courtyard, where mats are spread for them, and outside the walls of the mosque, the men crowd; among them are men from the neighboring villages. Women and children sit crowded together on the roofs of the houses overlooking the mosque. One of the men who came with the pir beautifully chants religious songs in which are described the life and death of the Prophet. Then the pir ex-
plains to the people the meaning of various aspects of religion. He usually speaks forcefully and effectively so that the people are deeply stirred. Some of the men in the mosque sob; the women weep. The sermon and the chanting last well into the night. The children, feeling miserable, fall asleep on the cots outside, but their mothers are too much moved to attend to them.
On the following morning breakfast is prepared for the pir by a family other than the one which entertained him in the evening, for it is a great privilege to do so. After breakfast, people call on the pirand bring him presents of money, grain, or cotton blankets. Then the pir and his followers leave the village.
The primary social unit in Punjabi society is that group of people who live together in one household. A man speaks of his immediate family as mera ghar, which means "my house."
This household unit may include only the members of the conjugal family of husband, wife, and children, if a married man lives apart from his parents and siblings. Or it may include all the members of a joint family, that is, the aged father and mother, married sons with their wives and children, unmarried sons and daughters, and occasionally a widowed daughter with or without her children. Or, after the sons and daughters are grown up and have been established in marriage, the household may take the form of a stem family, including the aged parents and one of the sons -- usually the youngest -- with his wife and children. After the parents' death, this son remains in the paternal home. Another type of joint family, consisting of a group of brothers living in one compound, is also common. If a younger son has not yet married at the time of his parents' death, he will live with one of his married brothers who arranges his marriage. A joint household consisting of a group of brothers may separate if their wives do not get along. But the brothers may keep their property intact and continue to work together, because brothers usually get along well, but in the compound they may have separate cooking arrangements. As their children grow up, they usually establish separate compounds but still go on having property in common.
As will be discussed in the following chapter, the group living together in one compound may be regarded as consisting of one or of several distinct households, depending upon whether the adult married sons and their wives have taken upon themselves responsibility for carrying on certain activities with kin and non-kin -primarily those concerned with institutionalized gift exchange, vartan bhanji. Each of the several households in one compound may be referred to as a "hearth."
Thus it is clear that coresidence in a compound may have different implications under a variety of circumstances, and that the unit which comprises a household is a very flexible one, which may or may not coincide with the total group resident in a compound.
Sometimes the word ṭabr is also used to refer to the household unit; besides meaning the conjugal or the joint family, it can also be used to refer to the members of the patrilineage. However, a clear distinction is made between members of the kin group who are more nearly and those who are more distantly related. Father and son, brother and sister are called apna, one's own; uncles, cousins, and other more distant relatives in the male line of descent are the biraderi.
The line of demarcation between one's own family and the biraderi as well as the essential unity of the two are expressed in a proverb: "One does not share the bread but one shares the blame." That is, a family owns property in common and consequently shares income and expenditures, but the biraderis, who live in different households, each with its own shared income, are affected by the wrongdoing of any one of its members in whatever household he belongs and their prestige suffers thereby.
A biraderi is a patrilineage. All the men who can trace their relationship to a common ancestor, no matter how remote, belong to the same biraderi. The term kabila (an Arabic word) is also used, butbiraderi is the term in more common use. Biraderi refers both
to the whole group of those who belong to a patrilineage and to any individual member of a patrilineage. Daughters belong to the biraderi of their fathers, but after marriage are included in thebiraderi of their husbands also. All the members of a biraderi are considered to be relatives, with the exception of those whose exact links to the other members cannot be established. Such persons are said to be biraderi, but they are not accepted as kin.
Some of the biraderis in the village are known collectively by the name of their common ancestor. This is more typical of, though not limited to, the biraderis of kammis, whose members recognize as a common ancestor a person not more than two generations removed. In Mohla, such is the biraderi of the weavers, who are known as Davlu-da, meaning those who belong to the biraderi of Davlu, their common ancestor. However, in a neighboring village there are two biraderis of zamindars known as Vassu-ka andMehr-ka, whose common ancestors are, respectively, Vassu and Mehr. Other zamindar biraderis are called after their subcaste. For example, there were the biraderis of Cheema, Vṛech, Chattha, Gondl, and so on. The name Cheema or Vrech may go back to some far off common ancestor after whom the subcaste became known.
The term biraderi may also be used in an extended sense, when it refers to a group of people who are not kin. Thus in its extended meaning, biraderi may refer to all the zamindars who live in one village, or in a locality, or throughout the country. Among the kammis, the barbers who live in one village or all those throughout the country are biraderi, as are also all the bakers, all the cobblers, all the weavers, and so on. Likewise, all the kammis who live in one village, irrespective of their specialized crafts, may be referred to as a biraderi, as may all the kammis in the whole country. And all those who belong to a village, zamindars and kammis together, are of one biraderi. Thus, the term biraderi, which has the primary meaning of patrilineage, may be used to refer to a number of different groupings of people, its specific meaning in each case
depending upon the frame of reference and the force of opposition. Thus, the biraderi of zamindars as a whole may be against the biraderi of the kammis; or one craft group may be against another; or one village, that is, zamindars and kammis together, may combine against another village.
In theory, all the members of a biraderi (patrilineage) of zamindar caste should live in one village or at least in a cluster of neighboring villages. Their common ancestor owned land in that locality, and now all the male descendants, through inheritance, have their share of that land and live in the neighborhood. In actuality, this is not the case. The various branches of one biraderi may not be living in the same locality.
In 1887, the construction of irrigation canals in the Punjab brought under cultivation vast stretches of land and new colonies were opened. Some of these arable lands were given by the government as grants to people for their services; some were bought by zamindars who needed more land. In this way, the members of a biraderi who had acquired land in the new colonies moved away from their original homes. Other members of a biraderi who are well educated may also leave the village to enter government service or to follow some career, and they settle in the city.
Yet no matter where they settle, the members of a biraderi never sever their connections with their native village. The land they own there, they may not rent to a tenant; if it is cultivated by other members of the biraderi, they will get their share. They will sell their fields only as a last resort, if they are in great need of money. Then their biraderis have the first option on purchase. If they own a house in the village, they usually ask someone in the village to take care of it; if it is only a house plot, it will remain in their name.
All the members of a biraderi of kammis should also live in the one village where their ancestors lived and worked. But if there is insufficient work for all of them in one village, some members of the biraderiwill move to another place where they can find work.
When zamindars moved to a new colony or a newly established village, a few kammis went along with the zamindars and settled there also.
The fact that some of them live at a distance does not affect the close relationships among the members of a biraderi. They are always up to date in their information about what is happening in their various branches.
As a group, the biraderis are thoroughly involved in family events. Birth, circumcision, marriage, sickness, and death are the occasions when they all come together. Then the presence of the biraderiadds to the prestige and enhances the beauty and importance of the occasion. At such times, members of the biraderi help to collect the articles necessary for the comfort of the guests, help to entertain the guests, to distribute food, and to see to it that every aspect of the ceremony is well attended to. At the marriage of a poor girl, the members of her biraderi who are more well-to-do will give her good clothes and will help in the entertainment of the barat, the marriage party, for it enhances the izzet, the prestige, of the biraderi if the ceremony is done properly.
It also adds to the prestige of an individual and of the biraderi as a whole when all its members get along well with one another. Should there be dissension among the members of a biraderi, they would try to compose their differences before an important occasion, for all of them should participate in such an event. Failure to do so brings criticism upon the biraderi, because they have not been able to find a way to reconcile their quarreling members. Getting along well with their biraderi is even more important for those who have sons and daughters of marriageable age. People criticize those who are not on good terms with their biraderi and may not want to make a rishta, connection through marriage, with such a family.
Although within the biraderi certain families may be on more intimate terms with each other than with the group as a whole, all the members show great solidarity when the occasion demands it.
In Mohla, for example, B.A. was the least popular member of his biraderi. A zamindar from a neighboring village cut down a tree belonging to B.A.; asked why he had done this, the zamindar jeered at B.A. B.A. then complained to a member of his biraderi, C.H., who was an official in a nearby town. C.H. immediately came to the village, called together several responsible men as well as the offender, and had the whole case discussed in his own presence. The offender admitted his fault and was made to beg B.A.'s pardon.
Although C.H. might neither approve of nor like B.A., he could not tolerate having a member of hisbiraderi humiliated by a member of another biraderi, because the insult to B.A. reflected upon the wholebiraderi. In this connection, a Punjabi would quote the proverb, "Now this is only a footpath, but it may open onto a wide road," which expresses the idea that if a person permits someone to encroach on his honor, no matter how slightly, later this may lead to a more serious offense.
Thus, all the members of a biraderi have a feeling of collective honor, the protection of which serves as collective security. In the struggles for power and in quarrels, each zamindar will be supported by the members of his own biraderi. "He has so many arms to back him up," says a Punjabi proverb; this refers to a person who has many males in the biraderi and therefore has power.
The feeling of collective security is even more clearly apparent in the attitude of the kammis. A kammimay do some wrong, but if he is strongly reprimanded by a zamindar, the kammi's biraderi will back him up and threaten to leave the village; this act in turn will affect the collective honor of the village. A baker in Mohla, for instance, who was considered to be a good-for-nothing by the members of hisbiraderi, stole some grain from the field of a zamindar. The zamindar's brother handled the baker rather roughly. Even though the theft was established, the biraderi of the baker unanimously supported their member. They stopped heating their ovens and baking the bread, causing everyone great inconvenience, and threatened to leave the village unless the zamindar in question
apologized to the baker. But this, in turn, would impinge on the honor of zamindars. It took lengthy negotiation and careful handling to placate the bakers.
Dadke AND Nanke: FATHER'S SIDE AND MOTHER'S SIDE
Learning about different relatives begins early in life. It is customary for a visiting relative to bring sweets or fruit, and as the child is given the delicacy, its grandmother or mother will say repeatedly, "Your mother's brother (or your father's sister, and so forth) has brought these sweets." "For how otherwise," people ask, is a child to learn about its relatives?"
As the child grows up, he soon learns that the household and the village he lives in are his dadke -- his father's father's place -- while the household and the village he frequently visits with his mother are hisnanke -- the place of his mother's parents. In childhood, boys and girls speak of their dadke -- parents' home -- when they are visiting their nanke with their mother. In adulthood, a man refers to dadke only to indicate his native place; otherwise he speaks of his home and village.
Dadke is the child's own village, its parents' home. Here is most of the family land and here live most of his biraderi, his paternal uncles and cousins, whose number and unity add power and prestige to his family and who are the first to come together and to help on special occasions.
Nanke is cherished throughout life. It is the place where a child is supposed to be treated with great affection and indulgence. From early childhood when one visits one's mother's family one is given much love, and when one returns home one is given sweets and new clothes to take back. When a boy marries, his mother's brother gives him a substantial gift; when a girl marries, part of her dowry comes from her nanke. One of the usual questions asked about a marriageable boy or girl is, "Where is his (or her) nanke?" For people want to know about the line of the mother as well as about the line of the father.
Peke AND Saure: PATERNAL HOUSE AND SPOUSE'S HOUSE
To a married woman two places are of importance: her peke, her paternal household, relatives, and village, and her saure, the household, relatives, and village of her husband's family. During the first weeks and even months of her marriage, the bride lives alternately at her saure and her peke. And later, when she has settled in her husband's village, she visits her parents at least once or twice a year and also goes to her paternal relatives on all important occasions, which breaks the monotony of her life. As she puts it, "If you bake chapati (native bread) on one side only, it will burn. You must turn it over."
The doors of her paternal home are always open to her. After the death of her parents, she visits her brothers and so keeps the sense of a continuous relationship. This is continued throughout her life and the lives of her children, for the paternal home is her protection, her security, her place of refuge under all circumstances.
A married woman, when living with her parents-in-law, speaks of her peke -- the house and village of her parents. But when she visits her nanke, then she refers to her parents' home as her dadke.
For a married man, the family and the village of his wife are his saure. He goes to his saure on special occasions and also to inquire about his wife's family, to bring back his wife and children who are visiting there, or to visit her family if he has not been there for a long time. At his saure he is treated with special deference and the choicest food is cooked for him. Of a man who sits idle and expects others to serve him, people say, "He behaves like a son-in-law on a visit to his parents-in-law."
Rishtadar OR Saak: RELATIVES
The rishtadar or, alternatively, the saak is the widest group of people who are recognized as being related to one another. Both of these are terms for a group in which are included consanguinal
and affinal 1 relatives: relatives on the father's side and those on the mother's side, the members of the biraderi, and relatives by marriage -- one's own, those of one's siblings and those of one's children.
When a marriage is being arranged, people say, "We want to make a rishta (or a soak)," meaning by this that they want to acquire new relatives.
As there is much intermarriage among kin, people are often related to each other in more than one way. This fact is reflected in the way in which kinship terms are used when a relative is addressed by a term which indicates the previous rather than the present relationship. For example, a mother-in-law may be called "father's sister," or a father-in-law may be called "mother's brother," for this was the earlier relationship of the person to the daughterin-law.
The major responsibilities which kin have to one another are, on the whole, borne by specific clusters of kin -- dadke and nanke, peke and saure, and the biraderi -- and by specific individuals -- as, for instance, phuphi (father's sister) or mamuō (mother's brother). The rishtadar, as such, is a more amorphous group, but one whose members meet on big occasions and among whom the bond of kinship provides a continuing possibility for the development of more active interpersonal relations.
From one point of view, the key figures in the relations among kin are the married women, the married daughters who are the links between two households, between two biraderi, between two villages. The daughter married into another village is called ang and the daughter's daughter married into another village pṛang;
in the widest sense, all the women born in one village and married into another are "daughters of the village" of their birth. The importance of women as daughters married in other villages is ceremonially recognized, as, for instance, in ceremonies connected with marriage when the family of the bridegroom distributes gifts to married women from the bridegroom's village living in the village of the bride. Certain of the gifts, as also the recipients of the gifts, are called thehan, which means "same as daughter" and is derived from dhi, daughter.
As married women, daughters -- in both the most limited and the widest sense of the term -- also have specific responsibilities. One of these is to act as a mediator in disputes or fights within a family, within a biraderi, between two biraderis, or between people of two villages. In these situations, if no understanding can be reached, the members of a party who want to bring about reconciliation may come to a married daughter and ask her to accompany them to settle the dispute. This mediation by a married daughter is called meyla; the expectation is that the married daughter's request will be acceded to by everyone involved.
The working of meyla may be illustrated by a case in which a daughter of the village (a woman not actually related to the parties involved) settled a quarrel. In the village of Dhirke, the wives of twozamindar brothers did not get along with each other. One day while the two men were working in the fields, Daro, the wife of the younger brother, brought him his lunch and told him that she had had another quarrel with the wife of his older brother. Very annoyed, her husband started to beat her. In the meantime, the wife of the older brother brought him his lunch and told the same story. Her husband cut a sugarcane and began beating her also, but she escaped. Still angry, the older brother then fell on Daro, and the two brothers gave her a good beating. Then Daro took her sixmonth old baby and went to Samaō, her parents' village. There her father's brother was married to Daro's husband's sister. (This had been a marriage by exchange, vaṭo saṭa; in such marriages it is
expected that the two couples will behave alike.) Learning how Daro had come home, the father's brother told his wife to go back to her parents also, because his brother's daughter had not been properly treated in the house of his wife's brother. Daro handed the baby to the woman and said: "Take him back; he belongs to you." The woman left for Dhirke with the baby, but in Dhirke the family had trouble taking care of the baby. The next day two elderly women relatives of Daro's husband came from Dhirke to Mohla and asked the chowdhrani of Mohla to come with them to Samaō as meyla, to mediate. The chowdhrani of Mohla was a daughter of the village of Dhirke, that is, this was her native place. She listened to the explanation of the two women and agreed to go with them to the house of Daro's parents. There the chowdhrani gave assurance on behalf of the husband's two women relatives that henceforth Daro would be properly treated in her husband's house and asked Daro's father's brother to take back his wife and to return Daro to her husband. As it is expected that the request of a daughter of the village cannot be refused, Daro's father's brother agreed and the two wives returned, each to her husband.
In contrast to the family, the biraderi, and the rishtadar, everyone else is obṛ or, alternatively, opra, the people who are not related and consequently who are not kin. A family will say that it has married its son or daughter to an obṛ, meaning that the son or daughter has been married into a family with whom there has been no previous connection. As has been indicated, under certain circumstances kinship behavior provides a pattern for the interaction of unrelated people, as when a woman who is the daughter of a village acts in terms of behavior proper to a daughter in the more limited meaning of the term or when two unrelated groups follow the behavior pattern of a true biraderi, patrilineage.
To summarize, in this society a man belongs to a certain house-
FIGURE 2. KIN GROUPS
A woman after marriage retains her position as the daughter of her paternal home and of her biraderi, but she is also included in the household and biraderi of her husband; her nanke are the household, relatives, and village of her mother's parents; and as a married woman she is the link between herpeke, her paternal house and relatives and village, and her saure, her husband's house, relatives, and village. Together all these groups of people make up the rishtadar or saak, the relatives. All other people, outside this widest circle of kin, are opra or obṛ -- strangers -- who may be brought into the circle by marriage. In certain circumstances, as is indicated by the extended use of kinship terms (or terms deriving from kinship terms), kinship behavior provides a pattern for relations between people who are not relatives.
Arranging the marriages of their children is a matter of great significance to Punjabi parents and a primary concern in their own lives. To understand fully why this should be so, it is necessary to see what part the marriage of children plays in the lives of the parents and how adults conceptualize the active years of their maturity.
When a married couple assumes the responsibilities of an independent household, this is expressed as "tying the knots around one's neck," which means that one is bound by responsibilities. These responsibilities are mainly to discharge their duty as parents by marrying off their sons and daughters and to maintain good relationships with the members of the various groups with whom they are connected through kinship, work, or by living in the same community. Knots stand for responsibility. (When a barber delivers wedding invitations, he carries with him a long string with as many knots as he has messages to deliver. With each message delivered, he unties a knot, and by the time he has completed his task all the knots are untied.) The years of "untying the knots" are of particular significance to the people because, though they may try hard to discharge their obligations, it is nevertheless within the Divine Power to give or not give them that span of life within which they can achieve their innermost desire, sadr, to see their children married and to discharge all their other obligations. There-
fore, those who have fulfilled their duties and to whom God gave permission to do so are the fortunate ones at whose death people rejoice.
The years of untying the knots begin not with marriage or with the birth of children, but when a couple has established an independent household. By this time the couple may have grown-up children and may themselves be in their late thirties. Establishing an independent household does not mean that they live in a separate house, apart from the husband's parents, nor does it mean that the husband has received his share of his father's property (though this may also be the case); rather it is the time when the couple assumes the responsibilities of entering into vartan bhanji relations by participating independently in important events and carrying on gift exchange independently. Up to this time the husband's parents have carried on gift exchange with the relatives, with the people with whom the family is connected through work, with the neighbors, and with the village as a whole. Having an independent household means that the couple now acts on its own behalf and on behalf of its own children.
For the boy, childhood is a period of preparation when, during frequent visits with his mother to her parents' village -- her dadke or peke and his nanke -- he develops an affection for his maternal relatives; and living in his father's village -- his dadke -- he learns to value membership in his biraderi. By being present at the various kinds of events, he also learns the importance of maintaining proper relations with the people he must some day deal with in everyday life. What is required of him during this preparatory period of life and during his young manhood is that he be a loyal and obedient son.
Similarly the young girl, living at home before marriage, sees how her mother is continually on the alert not to let pass any opportunity to reinforce the relationship between the family and relatives. Then, through her marriage, the girl becomes a link between the families of her parents and her parents-in-law, a con-
nection which is constantly strengthened through gift exchanges between the two families. In the house of her parents-in-law, the young wife is tutored by her mother-in-law in all the details of thevartan bhanji transactions between the family of her parents-in-law and their own blood and affinal relatives. She is expected to be an obedient daughter-in-law who, even if her mother-in-law is shorttempered, keeps quiet and evades quarrels. By so doing, she gains the respect and affection of her husband's relatives, and they refer to her as sherif -- noble.
When an elderly couple has discharged all of its worldly obligations, having dealt properly in vartan bhanji with relatives and having its children married, it has fulfilled its obligations as members of a kin group, as members of their social group, and as parents. Then they have succeeded in untying the knots and have fulfilled their sadr, their innermost desire. Having established their sons so that they can now turn over to them the responsibilities for carrying on vartan bhanji and for realizing their aims in life, the elderly parents can enjoy their achievement until death comes. At this time, after they have discharged their social obligations, the parents may realize another sadr by going on a pilgrimage to Mecca. When death comes to such a couple, it is an occasion for rejoicing, for not many people live long enough to realize their sadr -- to be carried to the grave on the shoulders of married sons and sons-in-law and to leave grandchildren to carry on the line.
At the death of a person who has fulfilled his life tasks and who has lived to old age, leda is performed.Leda is a ceremony in which the parents of the daughters-in-law bring clothes and give money to the family of the dead, and these, in their turn, distribute clothes among the daughters of the house, lavishly entertain the relatives and friends who have gathered for the occasion, and distribute food and money in the village. Leda is performed to honor the deceased -- to make him (or her) vaḍa, big or great. Honor, so given, reflects on both the ancestors and the descendants of the deceased; for the sons who inherit the material property, this is a
cherished spiritual heritage. The sons of parents who have successfully fulfilled their sadr and are so honored are given a good start in life and are challenged to do as well as their parents have done.
So when a couple forms an independent household, it is entering into the years of untying the knots and its aim is to complete its task successfully during its lifetime. The couple knows well what the responsibilities are that it has undertaken, and it wants to discharge them in a proper way, which will bring social approval. For social approval brings izzet, prestige, and this in turn is the source of enhanced status, influence, and power. The feeling of sadr now releases and channels the couple's activities toward the goal of fulfilling its responsibilities.
One aspect of these responsibilities is the maintenance of good relations with relatives and also with the people one has to deal with throughout life. So, for instance, it is the duty of the couple to continue the existence of the ghar, the paternal house, to which the married daughters look for support and for the maintenance of their own izzet, prestige. Good relationships are also built up by dealing well invartan bhanji, by participating in other people's joys and sorrows, and by being always fair in this lifelong give and take. On all occasions, the proper conduct of affairs brings izzet to the family, and so helps the couple to achieve its sadr.
However, the primary responsibility of the couple is to fulfill its parental duty of seeing that its children are married. This is the essence of its sadr, and its fulfillment means the completion of their main life task. Should they be unable to carry out this parental duty, it would be a source of grief to them and to their children. Later, after their death, when the older children give the younger ones in marriage, they weep at the wedding. They grieve for the parents who died without realizing their sadr, and they weep for their siblings, who have not realized their sadr to be married off by the parents.
Time is all important for the parents. To carry out their responsibilities during their lifetime, they must see their children married
As it is difficult for poor parents to find a bride for their son, they may give a daughter or a niece in exchange for a bride. This form of marriage is called vaṭo saobṭa. Whenever it is resorted to, people say that there will be trouble, because if one of the two couples does not get along well, the other couple is expected to behave in like manner.
Yet, however poor they may be, all parents want to perform at least some of the ceremonies connected with marriage, for this is the time when relationships previously built up with kin and nonkin are given concrete expression in vartan bhanji, both through the exchange of gifts and through participation in the ceremonies, and when additional izzet, prestige, comes to all people concerned. By performing the various ceremonies, parents give their child pleasure and simultaneously build up the child's izzet in the house and in the village of the parents-in-law. Therefore, in order to conduct these ceremonies in a manner appropriate to their status -- which is measured in terms of the family's position in its own biraderi -parents will borrow money. Or, alternatively, a marriage may be arranged in which the family of the boy gives a certain sum of money to the family of the girl. This money is spent on the girl's dowry and on the wedding reception. But even though both families gain izzet from the performance of ceremonies, this is the least desired form of marriage; neither the girl's side nor the boy's side is likely to mention that money has been given for the bride. Among well-to-do families, parents begin to look for a suitable match as soon as they feel they are in a position to undertake the marriage expenses and to dispense the necessary obligations of vartan bhanji, which forms so prominent a part of the event, taking into consideration at the same time the fact that the girl has become jivan, mature. For the parents of a girl make no less effort than the parents of a boy to find a suitable mate; more often than not it is the girl's side which takes the initial steps and proposes to the boy's side. Sometimes if an opportunity arises to make a particularly suitable match and if the parents are then in a position to carry out the ceremonies, there will be no postponement even though the marriage partners are still too young. Consequently, there are cases of child marriages, in which a girl of ten or less is married to a boy of ten or twelve.
In all forms of marriage, consideration is given to the relative age of the partners as it is felt that they should be close in age. In the case of vaṭo saṭa, an adolescent boy will be given a bride of his own age and his child sister will be married to a boy of her own age. Only in the case of the very poor, who must take advantage of whatever opportunity for marriage arises, are disparities in age disregarded. This is particularly true of the boy's side, who will accept a bride much older than the son. As there are fewer women than men in this group, a girl is very precious among the poor. 1 Child marriages occur in all forms of union, but they are rare among the well-to-do.
In a child marriage, the ceremonies of marriage are performed, the dowry is sent to the girl's parents-in-law, and the bride may visit her parents-in-law just once. Then she usually returns to her parents and the marriage is consummated only after she has passed puberty and is between fifteen and eighteen years old. Meanwhile
the child husband visits his wife's family and plays with the boys in her village and with his wife, and friendship grows up between them. In some marriages of this kind, the child bride goes to live with her parents-in-law, and her mother-in-law gradually trains her in the ways of the house. But even in these marriages, sexual life begins only after the girl has passed puberty, that is, when she is fifteen years old or older. (Not age but the girl's physical maturation is the determinant.)
The most important social function of marriage is to form a connection between two families or to renew and strengthen an already existing connection. Neither individual choice nor romantic love is relevant to a marriage arrangement; indeed, love as such is not mentioned in connection with marriage. 2 But every relevant aspect of the relationship must be carefully considered. Parents inquire carefully about the family of a prospective mate for their child; they investigate the other family's status, way of living, prestige in the community, ability to get along well with members of their biraderi, and relations within the household. They also want to know about the nanke, maternal family, of the prospective mate, for the mother's side is considered to be as important as the father's side. The prospective spouse is regarded primarily as a representative of the family; the only information obtained is about his (or her) age and general appearance. By preference, a couple should be close in age and should be of the same skin shade and approximately the same degree of comeliness.
Marriages are endogamous within the caste. Zamindar families find spouses for their children amongzamindars of their own status; kammis marry kammis. Among the kammis, every craft is endogamous: a baker's son marries a girl of the baker caste and a car-
penter's son marries a girl of the carpenter caste. Children know the caste they belong to from the time they can speak, and by the time they are six or seven also know that they will marry within their own caste.
However, there are some exceptions to the rule of endogamy. The daughter of a kammi may marry the son of a zamindar. Or the daughter of a baker may marry the son of another type of craftsman. But such marriages are disapproved of and are entered into without parental consent. The couple elopes and takes refuge with friends in a far-away village.
By preference, marriages are arranged within the kin group; cross-cousin and parallel-cousin marriages are both common. People say that to marry one's daughter to a stranger is to expose the shortcomings of the family. However, if no suitable mate can be found among the relatives, families do marry their children to nonkin. Then, if the family is pleased with the connection formed by this marriage, other marriages are likely to follow in order to strengthen the existing link. Among some families, intermarriage has taken place for three or four generations. In such interrelated families it is common for a girl to marry into the family of her father's sister -- for instance, she may marry her father's sister's son, her paternal cross cousin.
The girl's side is pleased with a marriage connection if the bride is well treated by her family-in-law and if they deal fairly in vartan bhanji. The boy's side is pleased if the girl brings enough dowry and is an obedient daughter-in-law and if she continues to bring the customary presents of clothes for herself, her husband, and the children each time she visits her paternal home. According to a Punjabi proverb, a mother-in-law says, "I call that one my daughterin-law who gives me things to eat," that is, who brings good things from her parental home.
For both sides, however, the most important aspect of the relationship is vartan bhanji -- the exchange of gifts and participation in important events in both families. On the occasion of a marriage, a
On the other hand, if people are not pleased with their daughterin-law, even though they may go on dealing in vartan bhanji with her family -- for they are the nanke, mother's relatives, of the grandchildren -- they will not favor any more marriages into the same family. However well they may treat their daughter-in-law, the fact that no further marriages take place, though there are possible matches, reflects their discontent. Similarly, even though the girl's family may be displeased with the husband's family, they will nevertheless try to maintain a good relationship through vartan bhanji, so as to make her life easier. For both families, it is a matter of izzet that a girl should be properly treated by her husband's family and that she should get along well with them.
The establishment of a good relationship between the two families is of the utmost importance for the woman, for she never severs her ties to her own family; from the beginning of her marriage she moves back and forth between the two houses.
Before the marriage, if the couple is already related and the bridegroom has previously visited the village of his prospective parents-in-law, he does not go there from the time of the engagement until the day of the marriage. If he lives in the same village, he will avoid passing the house of his prospective parents-in-law during the same period. At the time of the marriage, the bride and bridegroom each make three formal visits to the house and village of the respective parents-in-law. The boy comes first as a laṛa, bridegroom, with the barat, the wedding procession, to fetch his bride. When the bridegroom and barat then bring the bride to his house and village, she comes as a dulin, one who comes in a ḍowli, a palanquin. After one night, she returns to her parents' home with her husband, accompanied by the bride's father, paternal or maternal uncle, or her brother, who come to bring the couple home. This is the bridegroom's second visit, muklawa, to his parents-in-law. The couple stays for two or three days. Then the parents of the bridegroom, his paternal or maternal uncle, or his brother come to take the couple back to the husband's house. This is the bride's muklawa to her parents-in-law. This time she stays for several days. Then her paternal or maternal uncle (not the same person who came before) comes to bring the couple again to the girl's parents. However, the bridegroom may or may not accompany his wife on this visit; if he goes, this would be his third visit, tarwianda, to his parents-in-law. They or she will stay with her parents for a week or more. Toward the end of this visit, either her husband (if he did not accompany her when she came) or some close relative of his (not the same person who came before) will come to bring the bride for her third visit, tarwianda, to her parents-in-law. She will stay with them for over a week. Then one of her close relatives will come to take her to her parents to stay for a few months. This time her husband will not accompany her; later he will visit his parents-in-law occasionally. After several months the husband or one of his close relatives will bring the wife back to her parents-in-law. This time she settles down in her new home. Her mother-in-law tells her to cookkhichṛi, a dish made with rice and lentils; this is the signal that she is expected to take up her household duties. 3 Thus, the woman's lifelong alternation between her peke and her saure is set in motion. During this period of visits, each time the young wife leaves her parental home she is given gifts of clothes, as are also her husband and any of his relatives who come to accompany her back to her married home. And every time she visits back and forth, large quantities of sweets are sent by her parents to her parents-in-law and by her parents-in-law to her parents; these sweets are distributed in the villages.
Finally, after the prolonged stay with her parents, the bride settles down in her husband's home. However, she visits her parents at least twice a year and also takes part in all important family events there. Later she takes her children with her. So much a part of the life of a family and of a village are a woman's visits to her peke and saure, that children rocking back and forth in a swing will chant in rhythmic accompaniment to the motion, "Going to your saure, coming back to your peke."
A woman's connection with her father's house is her life artery, through which flow the presents which bring her izzet among her family-in-law and which, even more, contribute to the izzet of her parents. Her parental house is always open to her, and she can turn to it at all times. After her parents have died, her brothers and their wives will continue the tradition of the parental house, the ghar, for it enhances their own izzet to respect their sister, who is a phuphi, paternal aunt, of their children.
A phuphi has a special position in the household of her brother. From childhood, a sister and a brother are considered to be very close. A boy receives his first pagṛi, turban, from his married sister. (If he does not have an older sister, then his father's sister will give it to him.) The pagṛi is a symbol of honor, and proper behavior between a brother and a sister enhances the honor, izzet, of both. For a sister, a brother is the person who, if the father is not living, is responsible for arranging her marriage and for continuing the gift giving though which she and her children acquire izzet. She is the person for whom the brother feels responsible and who is the source of his izzet, as he fulfills his duties to her and to her children, for
by giving gifts and by making his sister and her children always feel welcome, he and the ghar which he represents gain in izzet. A brother occupies the foremost place in a woman's thoughts; at his death, she will be the one most grieved. To her children, he is a loving mamuō, maternal uncle; to his children she is a phuphi -the very sound of this word brings to people's minds someone much respected and cherished. A man who has no sister will feel deeply the lack of that particular relationship, and his children will always have a sadr, an unfulfilled desire, for a phuphi.
Phuphi is the person who cares genuinely for her brother's children, and it is to her they turn in times of difficulty. Whenever an important decision must be made, phuphi is consulted and her opinion respected. On her visits home, if her brother has died, she may refuse to accept the gifts to which she is entitled as a daughter of the house because her nephews are young and she does not wish them to spend money on her. However, there will be times when she does accept the gifts, both to increase the izzet of her father's house and to build up her own izzet among the wives of her husband's brothers. In such situations, despite the expectation that one always gives to and never receives from a daughter of the house, the phuphi will find ways of giving more presents to the sons and daughters of her deceased brother than she has received from them, for she wishes to be a very "good and loyal daughter of the house."
Close as a woman is to her brothers, her relationships with her brothers' households depend largely upon their wives; consequently, she may favor and be favored by the family of one of her brothers and be less close to the others. If the children of one of her brothers do not have a mamuō (for instance, if their mother has lost her brothers), and if there is nobody to represent the nanke when these children marry, a sister will see to it that her husband fills the gap; he, the phuphar, father's sister's husband, will fulfill the function and make up for the missing maternal relatives.
When a woman is widowed, the possibilities open to her depend on the stage of her life, on whether or not she has children -- especially sons -- on her relationship to her husband's family, and on conditions in her paternal home. A woman who is widowed late in life may be the head of her household and have grown-up sons. If she is young and has children, her parents-in-law may think it best for her to marry a younger brother of her late husband; if she agrees, she will become his second wife. But if she is young and has no sons to inherit the land (providing she is of the zamindar caste), if she has found her mother-in-law difficult to get along with and her brothers and parents, if they are alive, have found vartan bhanji dealings with the family of her parents-in-law unsatisfactory, then her family would feel that there was no point in continuing the relationship and would bring their widowed daughter or sister back home with them. They would not claim back the dowry -- the clothes, furniture, and buffaloes -- she had taken with her, for that is a matter of her parents' izzet. A widow with daughters may take them home with her. But sometimes the husband's family will not let the children leave; if there are daughters, they will be engaged to sons of the dead father's brothers, and the widow will be allowed to leave alone. In other circumstances, for example, where the husband's family is considerate, the widow will remain, for it is the family's izzet to continue to maintain a widowed daughter-in-law in its household.
A widow may go to live with her parents, if they are alive. Or she may go to live with her brother, but she must be on good terms with his wife. Otherwise life will not be easy for her. Yet it is the izzet of her brother and his family to treat her well and to take good care of her. She may also remarry, in which case the children may or may not go with her. However, it is the izzet of her brothers not to have their widowed sister remarry, for they should be able to provide for her.
The marriage of a widow is performed very inconspicuously. The ceremony takes place at night and only a few people are pres-
ent to hear the imam read the nikah, marriage contract. Asked why the ceremony takes place at night and why so little is said about it, the village women would reply, "It is a shame for a widow to remarry.
A woman's relationship with her parental house is that of a daughter, a sister, and, later, a paternal aunt. Yet, whatever gifts she receives, she receives always as the daughter of the house. The head of the ghar who gives may be much younger than the woman who receives as the daughter; here gharstands for the line of ancestors with whom the receiver is connected.
To be balanced, a family should have both daughters and sons for the perfect functioning of this family system in which one continually gives to daughters and receives from daughters-in-law by way of sons.
Families who lack either sons or daughters or who have no children cannot participate fully as members of their kin group. Although they participate in the various ceremonies of their kin and deal in vartan bhanji, and although their kindred are considerate of their incompleteness, yet they cannot actually experience the joy of the whole ceremony and must continually adjust themselves to what is lacking. A man who has no son may treat his sister's son as his own; the young man will live for some time in the village of his maternal uncle and may marry his cross cousin. A childless family may adopt a girl, given to them by relatives who have many children. But to participate fully, a family should have both sons and daughters. Participation means that a family meets with relatives on appropriate occasions and engages in all the appropriate gift exchanges. Indeed, relationships with all those whom one regards as kin, whether through blood or marriage, can be kept alive only as long as they are kept active. In this connection, the Punjabi quote the following proverb: "A well is a well as long as it works; relatives are relatives as long as they meet." And then they will explain that if a well is not used, it fills with sand and falls into
disrepair and finally cannot be called a well; in like manner, unless relatives meet and share in one another's troubles and joys they grow apart and cannot be called relatives.
Meetings of relatives do not take place at random; rather there are certain important events in the lives of family members -- birth, the circumcision of a son, marriage, departure for a pilgrimage, sickness, and death -- in which all the relatives should take part. But full participation depends not only on their presence at events but also on their dealing in vartan bhanji, which is the outstanding part of the attendant ceremonies. Although everyone is involved in vartan bhanji, the central figure is the daughter, so that in one sense one may say that a daughter is as crucial to vartan bhanji as vartan bhanji is to the whole of the traditional culture.
Nevertheless, it is equally important for a family to have sons, because sons continue the ancestral line, inherit the land (if they are zamindars) or follow the father's craft (if they are kammis), and maintain the tradition of the ghar, the parental household on which their sisters depend. Unless there is a son, a family cannot have the ceremony of receiving leda at the death of an old person who has completed his (or her) life task. Leda honors the dead and the living in both families; those who bring and those who receive leda gain much izzet.
Households in which there are both sons and daughters are fortunate. They will give to their daughters and they will receive through their daughters-in-law, who are the daughters of other families, and so the equilibrium is maintained.
Part II. Vartan BhanjiX
Vartan bhanji is a mechanism of gift exchange widely practiced in the Punjab. The term means an exchange of gifts and also refers to gifts so exchanged; likewise it denotes the relationship between people established through this exchange. Literally, vartan bhanji means "dealing in sweets," and it has the extended meaning of "dealing in relationships." In Punjabi, the verb vartna means "to deal," and its derivative vartan means "dealing." Bhanji means "sweets," and it is also used with the meaning of "relationship." Vartan bhanji involves an exchange of sweets, fruit, food, money, and yard goods for clothes; extending beyond material things, it includes the exchange of favors, services, like treatment, entertainment, and participation in ceremonial events. In its operation this mechanism of exchange involves a wide range of relationships among the various groups who make up this society. It is of vital importance to people as a means of achieving izzet, prestige.
Although vartan bhanji is basically a relationship developing out of gift exchange, the same term is applied to another kind of relationship in which no gifts need be exchanged, but in which two parties -- two individuals, two families, two villages -- feel free to ask favors of each other. This type of relationship goes beyond mere acquaintanceship as it implies a certain degree of friendliness and of rapport, and a willingness to ask for and to grant favors. So, for instance, if a zamindar is in need ofmang, collective labor, he may ask his friend in another village with whom he has a relationship
involving exchange of favors to provide him with extra help. In this case, he puts himself under obligation to the person with whom he is on vartan bhanji terms; his friend, in turn, puts himself under obligation to all the people who joined the mang at his request.
In popular usage, vartan bhanji may have various meanings. It may mean the relationship, or the way of dealing, or the articles of exchange, or behavior on certain occasions. So, for example, a woman may say, "We are on vartan bhanji," or "We have vartan bhanji," meaning that her family has a gift exchange relationship with another family. Or someone may say, "Her vartan bhanji is very good," in the sense that she deals fairly and acts according to the unwritten but well-known rules of this relationship. Again, a woman may show off the gifts she has received on some occasion and say that they are vartan bhanji, meaning that these were received in gift exchange and must be reciprocated. Or a woman may weep more at one funeral than at another and say that this was vartan bhanji, meaning that she shed more tears because of the closer degree of vartan bhanji between her household and the one where she wept more.
Vartan bhanji operates on two bases. The first is the daughter's right in her parents' home. The second is the relationship established through the exchange of gifts and favors.
A daughter's right in her parents' home is constantly validated through the gifts she receives on her visits and on all the major occasions celebrated in her own or in her father's household. Although what she receives is her right and is not vartan bhanji, yet this very right serves as a pattern for the operation of vartan bhanji. On ceremonial occasions, when a family celebrates an event by giving presents to a number of women, they first define the relationship between themselves and each woman who is to receive a gift and then they equate this relationship to that of a "daughter." In her capacity as a daughter, the woman who represents her household receives gifts, and through her other members of the household may also be recipients. For instance, any woman of the
biraderi, the patrilineage, if she is of the same generation as the head of the house, will be equated with a sister and so will be treated as a daughter of the house. On this basis, the family carries onvartan bhanji with members of its biraderi, affinal relatives, and close friends.
The second basis for vartan bhanji is the relationship which is established through the exchange of sweets, foods, and favors. On a ceremonial occasion, a household celebrates the event by distributing food and sweets in the village; by doing so, it emphasizes its relationship with the village community as a whole. It is on the basis of this relationship that a household can deal with the people beyond its immediate circle of relatives and friends and can have vartan bhanji with the village as a whole. On the same basis, a village as a whole can have vartan bhanji with other villages.
Vartan bhanji transactions do not take place at random, but on specific ceremonial occasions. The principal occasions on which gift exchanges take place are birth, the circumcision of a son, marriage, and the death of an old person. Once a vartan bhanji relationship has been established there are a number of other occasions when gifts may be given and received; these include times of sickness and convalescence, departure for a pilgrimage to Mecca, and, lately, departure abroad for education. On all such occasions sweets, food, clothing, and money are the counters in the gift exchange, the kind and amount of each depending upon the particular event and the scale of the vartan bhanji relationship.
For families, particularly for the women, vartan bhanji is like an exciting game which people play with absorbing interest and zeal. They can conduct exchange on any scale by expanding the circle of people with whom they deal, but they must be careful to maintain the pace for everything must be reciprocated and the dealings should be carried on at a level appropriate to one's status. The gain in this game is izzet, prestige.
It has already been said that the daughter is crucial to vartan bhanji. She is at the core of the exchange, for she is the figure through whom and in whom all the relationships and all the dealings invartan bhanji among kin are expressed and her special role makes it possible for the exchange to be extended and to continue indefinitely.
In vartan bhanji a daughter's role is to receive, and it is she who receives on all occasions. So at the marriage of a son, the family gives away cloth for outfits and quantities of sweets; the main recipients are the daughters. At the marriage of a daughter, the relatives and friends bring gifts; the recipient is the daughter, the bride. The occasion of a boy's marriage is the proper occasion for a family to give away gifts. Relatives and friends do not bring gifts, but may give the bridegroom money, selami, to welcome him as a bridegroom; his married sisters bring clothes for him, but these are only a token of their close relationship, for they expect to be given things many times the value of what they have brought. When the groom's family distributes gifts, the daughters -- that is, the sisters and paternal aunts of the boy -- will receive the most. But in addition to giving to their own daughters, the family gives clothes and sweets to a large group of women who attend the wedding. In giving to these women, the main rule observed is that all these women receive as ghar di dhi, daughters of the house. If the house of marriage wishes to carry on vartan bhanji on a large
In working out such extensions it may be said, for instance, that a younger brother's wife is my sister, therefore she is a daughter of the house; a friend is my brother, therefore his wife is my sister and is a daughter of the house; my brother's daughter and daughter-in-law are my daughters; my daughter's sister-in-law is her sister, and therefore my daughter. In this way, nieces, cousins, the daughters of sons and daughters, sisters-in-law, all may be included in the category of daughter of the house, and so be entitled to receive presents.
In fact, when a family wishes to give away many presents, it observes the fundamental rule of giving: "For giving is like the flow of water which goes from the high level to the low, from the rich to the poor, from the older to the younger." Where status and age are equal, then the kinship position will be taken into account. So, for instance, if a woman recipient is older in age than the donors, then her relationship to the family is reduced to the least common denominator in vartan bhanji and she is treated as a daughter of the house.
To give to the daughter of a family is essential. If the family of a bridegroom wants to express a greater intimacy with certain relatives it may, in addition, give clothes to her whole family, including the men.
At the marriage of a son, the family of the bridegroom also receives presents, but the central figure is still the daughter. At her son's wedding, a woman receives presents of clothes for herself from her parents as their daughter, and the bridegroom receives a sum of money or a gift from his nanke,maternal family, as the son of their daughter. The man is more or less a neutral figure throughout these dealings. The groom's sisters, his paternal aunts, and thedaughters of the house receive gifts from the paternal home as daughters; and the bride brings a dowry to his family, a portion of which she has received from her nanke as its daughter's daughter and the rest of which she has received from her parents as their daughter.
Similarly, when a man's son is born or is circumcised, the daughters are the main recipients of gifts. The man's sister or his father's brother's daughter will bring a present for the child and will expect to be given much more in return. Should she not be satisfied with the gift, she may not accept it, saying: "A son is born to my brother (or cousin). It is an occasion for rejoicing, and I must get a good suit of clothes, not an inferior one." At the same time the mother of the newborn receives presents from her parents as their daughter.
At the marriage of its daughter, a family receives from relatives and friends, with whom it is on vartan bhanji terms, clothes for the bride and an amount of sweets equivalent to what in the past it has given at the weddings of their daughters. On this occasion, the women who, at the marriages of their own daughters, had received gifts as daughters of the house, will bring clothes for the bride as her "elder sisters," as her paternal and maternal aunts, and as the wives of her paternal and maternal uncles, and so on. The mother of the bride knows exactly what to expect, for she knows well -and has often described -- the quantity and quality of the clothes she has given away to the families with whom she deals in vartan bhanji.
To have a daughter is important, because the marriage of a daughter is the occasion for the family on which they can enjoy the reward of their longstanding relations with others. What they receive now is the sum total of what they have given away to their relatives and friends at the marriages of their daughters; now everything comes back. A family without daughters is denied this joy, and although it scrupulously enters vartan bhanji -- giving the traditional welcome money, selami, to the bride and bringing clothes for her -- it does so halfheartedly for there is no real excite-
ment to look forward to. Even though it will receive back on various occasions what it has given, the deep satisfaction attached to this particular event is missing. Furthermore, though a woman who does not have a daughter will be given clothes (or else these will be given to her daughter-in-law) on appropriate occasions, nevertheless this act of receiving the gift will not carry with it the amount ofizzet which a family gains and enjoys at the marriage of its own daughter through receiving gifts at that time from relatives and friends with whom it is dealing in vartan bhanji.
At the marriage of a son, the family gives gifts and gains izzet. And at the marriage of a daughter, the family receives gifts and again gains izzet. The number and quality of the gifts given and received are indications of the family's knowledge and ability in dealing with people and provide an index of its status, influence, and power and of the breadth of its social circle -- all of which means izzet. On all such occasions daughters are crucial to the exchange and hence to the acquisition of izzet.
It has been mentioned that the married daughter is also very important in making and keeping alive connections between villages. Her key position is ceremonially recognized at the time of a marriage when the family of the bridegroom sends presents with the barat, the group of men who comes with the bridegroom to fetch the bride in her village. The bridegroom and the barat come bringing gifts for the bride, and the principal ceremonies are those centering on the bride and bridegroom. But in addition, the barat brings gifts and may perform ceremonies in the bride's village honoring married daughters and the bride's village as a whole. Through these ceremonies and the gifts presented, the family of the bridegroom establishes -- or strengthens and renews -- relationships not only with the family of the bride but also with certain households in her village, and his village establishes a relationship with her village as a whole and with a number of villages in the neighborhood.
This is done by giving gifts, thehan, by the giving of money as
chul, and by the performance of the ceremony of ratha chari. For example, M.S., a zamindar of Mohla, was arranging the marriage of his sister. Soon after the barat arrived in Mohla the boy's side sent presents to some women in this village who belonged to the same subcaste, in this case Chatha, as the bridegroom, and to others who came from his village and were married in Mohla. Among the latter group were both zamindar and kammi women. Each woman received as a gift a copper plate filled with sweets and some money, the amount varying from 2, 5, 11, 21, up to 101 rupees. (In making this gift, some families send the same amount to all women while others send more to those whom they regard as important to themselves.)
This gift is called thehan, a word which derives from dhi, daughter, and has the same meaning as daughter; the woman who receives the gift is also called thehan. The gift recognizes the recipient as a daughter and by giving it the bridegroom's family honors the daughters of their subcaste and of their village who live in the bride's village. The woman who receives thehan keeps the plate and the sweets and some of the money (at least one or two rupees, at most five rupees, depending on the scale on which the bridegroom's family is dealing). Later on the same day, when the bridegroom receives selami,money given to "welcome" him, all the thehan go to the bride's house and give him selami and sagan. 1Those who are much older than he give him selami as father's sisters and the others as his sisters. By giving selami, these women honor the bride's family whose son-in-law the young man has become, and thus establish vartan bhanji with them. The bridegroom accepts the sagan but returns the selami, forthehans are daughters.
On the same occasion, while the barat is in the village of the
bride, the bridegroom's family may further strengthen the ties between its own village and that of the bride as a whole by distributing money to all the households of kammis there.
For example, at the marriage of R.B., a sister of the chowdhri of Mohla, while the barat was in the bride's village, the bridegroom's father distributed 10 rupees to each kammi household. This money is called chul, which means "the hearth." Through the distribution of chul both families are honored -- the bridegroom's and the bride's -- and gain in prestige, and so do the villages of the donor and the recipients.
Likewise on the occasion of the coming of the barat the bridegroom's family may also perform the ceremony of ratha chari, which means "knightly gesture," and by so doing they honor the daughters and daughters' daughters of other villages who are married into the bridegroom's village (that is, the daughters-in-law in his village).
For example, at the marriage of the sister of A.M., a zamindar of Mohla, on the morning after the arrival of the barat, all the male guests were assembled at the men's guest house. Then the bridegroom's maternal uncle, some of his biraderi, and the mirasi, village bard, of Mitha Chak -- the bridegroom's village -- seated themselves on the roof of the veranda of the guest house. Below in the courtyard were gathered also the mirasis of the neighboring villages. The mirasi of Mitha Chak called the names of the villages in the area one by one. The mirasi of the village named, if he was present, stepped up and said: "I am the mirasi of -----," naming the village. He then received two rupees, the basic amount given to each. But some mirasi received more if they could claim that they had ang or pṛang, married daughters or daughters' daughters from their village living in Mitha Chak. For each daughter of his village the mirasi received one rupee and for each daughter's daughter half a rupee. The mirasi of Mitha Chak knew well all the angs and pṛangs living in his village and the names of the villages from which they and their mothers came. Reciprocally, the mirasis from
other villages knew which of their daughters and daughters' daughters were married in Mitha Chak.
By distributing this money, the family of the bridegroom honors the daughters of other villages who are married in the bridegroom's village and consequently establishes -- or strengthens and renews -relations between its own and these other villages. The family's own village gains much izzet and becomes an outstanding village, a ṭika village (a ṭika is a gold ornament worn on the forehead).
Thus, at a marriage, at that stage where the bridegroom's family is honoring the bride's family in her own village, the performance of ceremonies honoring a true daughter (the bride as a daughter of her family and as the daughter-in-law, nuh, of the bridegroom's family) sets off other ceremonies in which daughters, more broadly defined, and the village itself are honored. These ceremonies not only bringizzet to all those concerned but also initiate or strengthen vartan bhanji relations.
Nevertheless, important as is the role of the daughter in the exchange of gifts, those gifts that are given to a true daughter are not vartan bhanji. They are considered to be "the daughter's right," and therefore, looked at in this way, are not to be reciprocated and are not part of the system of exchange. It is the gifts which are given to the daughters of a house, the daughters of a subcaste, the daughters of a village -- to daughters in extended meanings of the term -- that must be reciprocated, for these are vartan bhanji. Thus, the giving to the true daughters sets the pattern for the main recipients of the gifts, but the pattern of reciprocal giving is set primarily by relations with the ghar di dhi, the daughters of the house, and then is extended to daughters otherwise defined.
It should be noted, however, that there is one modification of the rule that daughters receive but do not reciprocate. One of the basic rules of vartan bhanji is that no one comes empty-handed and no one goes away empty-handed. 2 One gives and one receives. This
applies to daughters and to others to whom gifts are given, but the ratio of giving and receiving is very different.
In vartan bhanji, as will be shown, the exchange of gifts is kept close to balance in the long run, but in the case of a true daughter, the ratio of gifts given to her and of those received from her by her parents' household is approximately ten to one. That is, parents expect to give about ten times as much as they may expect to receive from their married daughter's household.
For example, at the marriage of a daughter's daughter, the maternal grandparents may take clothes and ornaments worth 1,000 rupees as presents for the bride and her mother (their granddaughter and daughter), and they may expect to return home bringing presents worth approximately 100 rupees. 3However, if the relationship between the parents and the daughter and her family-in-law is a very good one, then the ratio may be about eight to one. That is, the daughter's parents will be given more presents than custom demands. Thus, in a very modified way, the wider pattern of vartan bhanji is reflected in the relations between a true daughter and her family in so far as intimacy and warmth of feeling should be expressed in the manner of giving.