Tue, 26 Nov 1996 15:13:05 -0800
Here's some excerpts from a news article of a while back; it seems
polyandry is losing ground with modernization (take that "5,000 years"
with a grain of salt, by the way...)
From: Cfirstname.lastname@example.org (Reuter / Phyllis Fang)
Subject: Ultimate husbandry - two men and a farm to run
Organization: Copyright 1996 by Reuters
Date: Fri, 2 Aug 1996 5:50:31 PDT
BATSERI, India (Reuter) - Yumphati Negi is a 35-year-old
mother of seven, a traditional housewife in a remote village in
northern India where she takes care of the cooking, cleaning and
cultivation of land.
But she also has an added task -- providing for two husbands.
Yumphati Negi practices a unique system of polyandry where a
woman is married to more than one husband, always brothers from
the same family.
``I am happy with the system, It's good. I have no regrets
about it,'' she says with a shy smile. ``But the hard work is
definitely there, I have given birth to 12 children but five
The practice of polyandry was adopted almost 5,000 years ago
by tribal people who first settled in the district of Kinnaur, a
mountainous, forested region in the state of Himachal Pradesh.
Genealogies even trace the descendants here to the legendary
Pandavas, a heroic clan from the celebrated Mahabharata epic of
five brothers all of whom married the same princess, Draupadi.
In Batseri, wooden houses clutter a deep valley where only 25
percent of the land is cultivable. Land has long been precious,
so keeping it all under one roof and controlling the population
Marrying all the sons in the family to one woman was the
``Polyandry is very wrong,'' said Namrand Negi, a 20-year-old
who grew up in a family of three fathers, one mother and five
siblings. ``It's not good for two to three brothers to share a
woman. One will want to dominate and that is not good for the
During his tenure, the former village head for the past 18
years, Suraj Singh Negi, has seen the tribal customs slowly
``Girls and boys are becoming more and more educated and in a
modern society they don't want polyandry to exist,'' he says.
``I want these traditions to exist, the tribals should keep
their own identity.''
Today, only 10 percent of families in Batseri practice
polyandry and the trend in neighboring villages is also
``The younger generation doesn't want to be a showcase and be
different,'' laments Suraj. ``The future of polyandry is