The role of marriage in Gopalpur: a South Indian Village essay

marriage / society / Gopalpur / Beals / ethnography

Essay Topic:

Marriage as an integral part of life of the society of Gopalpur a South Indian village.

Essay Questions:

Why is marriage considered an integral part of the life of the village in Gopalpur ? What impact does Indian culture have on the notion of marriage of the village? In what way is the uniting power of marriage revealed of Gopalpur?

Thesis Statement:

As marriage is a mini-society representation, it is very easy to observe how important marriage is for people from Gopalpur. Family is the only place where a person from Gopalpur may feel protected and secure; it is the source of the possibility to prosper, try to maintain the same economic level or simply to survive.


The role of marriage in Gopalpur: a South Indian Village essay


Table of contents:

1. Introduction

2. The uniting power of marriage

3. Economic aspects and exchange in families

4. Conclusion


Introduction: Marriage has always been an integral part of the life of people all over the world. It may be viewed as an attempt to convert a relationship between a man and a woman into a legal alliance. This legal alliance brings certain benefits for both of the parties and also creates a so-called cell of the existing society. It goes without saying that marriage unites people and makes them very close to each other. This cell starts working as a self-supporting organism, where each of the participants is required to work very hard in order to achieve the major aim the state of well-being. The perception of marriage is different depending on the country it takes place in. Unfortunately, the marriage perception often depends on the economic development of the country. Inn some places marriage is the unity of love; in some it is the only way to survive the economic hardships of life. "Gopalpur; a South Indian Village" an ethnography written by Alan R. Beals, describes the life in the Indian village with all its manifestations. Certainly the role of marriage in Indian culture is not ignored, but even widely analyzed in the book. As marriage is a mini-society representation, it is very easy to observe how important marriage is for people from Gopalpur. Family is the only place where a person from Gopalpur may feel protected and secure; it is the source of the possibility to prosper, try to maintain the same economic level or simply to survive.

2. The uniting power of marriage. As it has been already mentioned, the destination of marriage is to unite individuals. It does not necessarily mean only two people (a man and a woman), but when children appear it may be a family of 15 people. It happens, of course, if every single member of the family survives, until he becomes adult, which is not very common for Gopalpur. Out of one hundred thirteen households, only six have more than nine members[Beals, 1962]. So eventually, an alliance of two people becomes a unity of various families families that their children form and their grandchildren form, too. In his ethnography Beals makes it clear that a big family in Gopalpur is the symbol of prosperity of the founders of the family: This is a large household, the symbol of one old mans success in life. Few other men live to see a household full of children and childrens children [1962,13]. This is primarily due to the fact that a large family for Gopalpur people if first of all a larger amount of working hands. The more they work the more they have the possibility to survive and not to starve. So it is hard to imagine the tragedy of a Gopalpur woman who, according to Beals, had lost nine of her children before they became adults. As people in Gopalpur simply confirm the rules they are required the follow they take these tragedies as inevitability and their whole life is a fight.As the government of Gopalpur is very primitive, it draws a clear line between the rich and the poor people of Gopalpur. The family is an oasis for common people, who spend their whole day working and being afraid to lose their jobs. The uniting force of marriage is incredibly strong in Goopalpur, as a common misfortune makes the family member hold tight to each other and support each other the best they can. As one marriage may unite several families, marriage can unite different families making almost the whole village to be related to each other in some way. And as they become one big family their existance becomes whatsoever better. Through the concept of family Beals explains the reason of the big population on India and the importance of family tied for Indian people in general. Basically saying, on the example of Gopalpur, provide by Beals, the reader sees that marriage possesses a great uniting power. And owing to this power the people of Gopalpur do not give up and keep working and living.

3. Economic aspects and exchange in families. Certainly, one of the aspects of the uniting power of marriage is the financial or the economic aspect. It is common knowledge that two heads are better than one. This phrase, in general lines, portrays the image of a Gopalpur marriage. Marriage in Goopalpur is a prepossession of some kind of financial stability and sometimes even wealth. Even a good work at the Gaudas1 land in Gopalpur may bring the family the confidence in the tomorrow. This confidence is also supported by the exchange of goods that Gopalpur marriage brings, it may start from some agricultural techniques and end up with different possessions, that could be later on sold in bad times to pay the rent for the land. Ordinarily, Gopalpur families have no money. Beals points out the fact that through Gopalpur is not very much developed there still exists the possibility to give a credit to farming families: The position of the Gaudas has been attacked by developing new sources of credit to give financial assistance to farmers and laborers[1980,82].

The development economic system of Gopalpur concentrates the money in the hands of the Gaudas, leaving ordinary workers without a cent. The rich layer dictates the workers what they should do and take all the money they can from the families. Therefore, the more good the family has, the more chances it has to survive the financial pressure of this gold layer. And these goods are primarily obtained through marriage. It may be even said that it is marriage that keeps the people of Gopalpur somewhat normal. As the wealth in Gopalpur is not evenly distributed, families become the subject to a better financial condition, owing to a higher concentration of working force. The marriage alliances of Gopalpur are more then alliances of people who are enamored, but alliances promising possible economic and financial stability for the family members that the marriage produces. Religions aspects are very vital for Gopalpur families, for religion becomes their binding song. It consolidates the family and its hope that God will be gracious and everything happening to them is the reflection of his divine will. Without marriage the maintenance of the economic and religious structures of Gopalpur would have been impossible. Without it they would fail to exist at all, as the family vaccinates its scions with subservience, both religious and economical. It grafts the values to children and crates small obedient societies, consisting of family members, which only with the help of each other are able to survive and not to starve. Gopalpur marriages instead of being real love-unions are economic alliances, created in order to survive. Nevertheless, the inability to change it for better is seen in the hands of Gopalpur people, though it remains invisible for them.

Conclusion: Marriage in Gopalpur is very important, as it becomes a perfect chance to provide good life in adulthood. It is the regulating organ of the Indian culture and government, as it shares the values, including religion and respect to the ruling class, with all family members. Marriage creates a base for living and becoming prosperous in the village of Gopalpur. One person, alone has almost a 100% chance to fail achieving successful leaving in Gopalpur if it is possible at all. Marriage unites people with a capacity to work and therefore this capacity and the goods that are exchanged during marriage are a vital factor without which survival in Gopalpur is quite impossible.

1 Gauda- a prosperous land owners.


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