NKAM UCHAR OTAROK (Tarok Traditional Marriage)
Marriage is known as ‘nkam uchar’in tarok traditions. It is a very significant institution for its procreation value that unmarried persons faces severed criticisms including satire songs by tarok maids whenever the occasion demands. Either on their way to the farms or rivers for fetching water sand especially during the moonlight plays where unmarried persons both males and females gather at the dance arena referred to as “atak sal“.
The satire mechanism of tarok maids is very portent which effects positive changes for social control. Victims of anti social behavior are captured in songs and originators of such songs are immune from any sanctions or liability however derogatory it may be, while the society expects a change of attitude from the offending act.
Umarried conduct is usually frown at socially by tarok people so much so that orim sometimes imposes marriage for such people. Where unmarried persons fail to marry within expected period while their productive age is fast spent, orim will come out in the evening and advance to the house of the maid and remove her to the house of an unmarried man. This is known as “npkang uchar ko rim”. Theorimusually monitors every aspect of the marriage to ensure harmony. Of course with the advent of Christianity, the tradition is fast giving way to modernization with emphasis on libertarian principles. However, it still exists in most rural tarok communities.
Another way of exhibiting social disdain to unmarried conduct among tarok is during the death ofunim kpari(unmarried adult man). When the remains ofunim pkariis removed for final interment,ocha gyi jam(play partners) will rolligbongbar(small rolling stone) after the steps of the casket bearers accompanying it with asses and raining curses saying “ga, ga ko orim bu per chatchat, kang apir bu a ga le aba lamkat. Ma mar bu te umar uro kat”, meaning:go forever with your spirit, your type should no more come to tarok. Woe unto you that you were born and you did not bring anybody to this world. This is the underlying tarok philosophy of marriage.
Under tarok tradition the concept of wedding is quite alien.
Marriage can take the process of dating (nnim ngya) then eloping with the lady thereafter or just meeting her for the first time either on her way to farm or river or market and eloping with her before the process ofnim igwar(bride wealth settlement). It should be noted that whether you date a lady for over a decade and completed every marriage process, no tarok father will fix any date for you to take his daughter unless you elope with her. Before eloping with your fiance (uyenbyen) in the night, she usually confide in her mother with every step of the plans but certainly not the father. The man will mobilized his friends (ovanzem) secretly on that day who will provide cover to facilitate the easy removal of the bride from her father’s house to the groom’s house. Once the bride arrived the groom’s house, one of his age grades will fire a round of den gun signifying the arrival of the bride. This will convey notice to the community that one of them had taken a wife.
The following morning the family of the groom dispatches an emissary to inform the family of the bridethat their daugher is not missing but in their place. After the formality the emissary presentsatiba(token). If accepted, the process ofigwaris kick started, sometimes theatibais rejected and the emissary may be beaten by the brothers of the brideor even the father-in-law, but once this happens, the tarok consider it as normal way of commencing a solid relationship and it is taken with ease which cannot deter the emissary from repeating the mission.
The bride (uchadep) is kept under strict monitor of elderly women while young men maintain vigil to prevent her from escaping back to her father’s house or snatch away by a rival. She is kept indoors for seven days and within this period the groom is excused from certain societal duties including miltary service for effective honey moon. The mother of the groom prepares energy food includingimung sur(sorghum porridge) for the couples to supplement energy because honey moon can be energy sapping. The period of honey moon in tarok is known asijini. Physical reduction in weight is a common characteristic of this period.
After seven days the bridereturns to her fathers house which is referred to asntur ucha. This will depend on the circumstances; it may be longer but it cannot be less. On return to her parents house, the mother mobilizes her forntim achir(final movement to her husband’s house), while on the side of the groom’s family, efforts are intensified to complete the process ofigwar. After successful progress have been recorded, the couples agreed on a date forntim achirand this is the only date that is fixed with consensus andmade public in the tarok traditional marriage process. On that day the brideis accompanied by spinsters alike including women from her parents house to her husband house in a grand ceremony. Her family provides her with bedding, foodstuff, cooking utensils and all she requires for comfort in her home. On that day there is usually celebration in honor of the bride. The groom on his side subsequently is hosted by his counterparts to a reception known asadopzani. At that event the groom is welcome to the club of responsible men. It is an exclusive male occasion which is characterized by eating, winning and dancing usingabwarwith some wearingawashilion their ankles. This today is the equivalent of wedding reception, the only difference is the components of the audience. This process, it must be noted represents the traditional chronicle of events culminating into establishing a new home under tarok culture which is not the same with present day Christian marriage even though some aspects are intertwined. As mentioned earlier it is still obtainable among rural tarok communities till date.
God bless the Tarok nation.
AResearch by:Nimmyel Ponlir.