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Polyandry, or the practice of one woman marrying two or more husbands simultaneously, used to be fairly common in this extremely remote area of Himachal Pradesh and in other parts of India and Tibet. 

With increased exposure to the outside world, fewer and fewer people now form such family structures. But just the opposite trend is true in the neighboring state of Haryana. 

As polyandry fades from some of its traditional locations, like Lahaul and Spiti valleys, the lack of females in other states is fueling its resurgence.

Polyandry's roots sink deep into the soil of Buddhist and Hindu culture here in Himachal Pradesh, a week's journey from the China border. The Mahabharata, an ancient Hindu text, mentions the practice in the story of Draupadi, a princess who married five kings at once, according to Indian historian Sarva Daman Singh, who wrote the 1988 book “Polyandry in Ancient India.” 

Tibetans have practiced polyandry for centuries, although it is now officially illegal there.

The husband in Kaza, Baldev Nath, 50, said that “everyone is pleased” with their shared-spouse arrangement, including his older brother and their common wife, 55-year-old Dalma Tashi, although he did not allow her to participate in the interview.

“There are three causes of disputes between brothers: zar, zorou and zamin (gold, women and land),” Nath said. “If there is a common zorou, there is no dispute.” 

Women's History Magazine


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