The story of the tribe in which the child is attributed to his mother and the man moves to live in his wife’s house


  • Zinara Rathnaik
  • BBC


Photo released, Nature Picture Library/Alamy

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The customs of matriarchy are so ingrained in the life of the Khasi society that many feel that the features of their unique society will remain in the future.

On my travels to different parts of the Indian mainland, especially in small towns and villages in the north, I rarely encountered a woman running a shop or selling goods in markets.

And when I was sitting in restaurants in Uttar Pradesh, I watched men making flatbreads and mashing vegetables to make curry sauce, serving them to male customers. And I was sitting on the trains between Calcutta and Garchabur, surrounded by male passengers. The absence of women was evident in most public places.

But the situation is different in the state of Meghalaya in northeastern India. At Yodo Market in the state capital Shillong, which is one of the oldest and largest markets in the region, the market streets are packed with women, who sell vegetables, cut meat and handicrafts. Older women roam the corridors of the market to oversee trade and order the men who work for them to carry bags of fresh vegetables and fruits.

I visited Meghalaya five times before the pandemic, and I noticed that across the state, women are not only abundant in public spaces, but also dominated by them. This may be attributed to the fact that the Khasi community, which is the largest ethnic group in the state, is the last matriarchal community in the world, as the child is attributed to the mother, the husband moves to live in his wife’s house, and the family inheritance passes from the mother to the youngest daughter.

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