Growing Up Sexually




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Brahmin male education was “characterized by a commitment to sexual chastity, an important aspect of the vow of brahmacharya that the student had to take”[1]. “Traditionally”, writes Harper (1964:p170)[2], “Brahmin girls were married before puberty, and the marriage was consummated fifteen days after she reached puberty […]”. Describing Kondayamkottai Maravars, Fawcett (1903:p62)[3] states: “Marriage may be celebrated either before, or after, puberty, and, though girls may live with their husbands before this event, it is unusual for the ceremony to take place after it. After puberty, a girl should not live with her parents”. “Until recently, Brahmans used to be marry their girls before puberty, and parents who had not succeeded in finding husbands for daughters past the age of puberty were regarded as guilty of a great sin” (Srinivas, 1956:p484)[4]. This is significant, since Brahman marriage is “in theory indissoluble”. Among the “low” castes, this institution was taken with more liberalism, and marriage after puberty may occur. In the Mysore Brahmin community studied by Srinivas, all marriages had to be consummated “on the sixteenth night after the bride’s puberty” (Srinivas, 1942[5]:p134-5; Goody, 1990:p207-8)[6]. In the Nagara Brahmin community on which Mankad (1934-5)[7]reported, a bride only visited her husband’s home after puberty and took up permanent residence there six months later.









Janssen, D. F., Growing Up Sexually. VolumeI. World Reference Atlas. 0.2 ed. 2004. Berlin: Magnus Hirschfeld Archive for Sexology, Berlin

Last revised: Sept 2004


[1] Reagan, T. (2000) Non-Western Educational Traditions. Alternative Approaches to Educational Thought and Practice. 2nd ed. London [etc]: Erlbaum, p140

[2] Harper, E. B. (1964) Ritual Pollution as an Integrator of Caste and Religion, J Asian Stud 23:151-97

[3] Fawcett, F. (1903) The Kondayamkottai Maravars, a Dravidian Tribe of Tinnevelly, Southern India, J Royal Anthropol Instit Great Britain & Ireland 33:57-65

[4] Srinivas. M. N. (1956) A Note on Sanskritization and Westernization, Far Eastern Quart 15,4:481-96

[5] Srinivas. M. N. (1942) Marriage and Family in Symore. Bombay: New Book

[6] Goody, J. (1990) The Oriental, the Ancient and the Primitive. Cambridge: CambridgeUniversity Press

[7] Mankad, B. L. (1934/5) Genealogical study of some vital problems op population, J Univ Bombay 2:280-307; 4:105-29