More: Abor, Lingayats, Bengali, Punjabi; Rājpūts, Brahmans, Nagas, Chamars, Todas, Purum, Santals, Garos, Baiga, Nimar Bahalis, Telugu, Lepcha, Lodha, Uttar Pradesh, Andamanese, Nicorbarese, Muthuvar


Frequently entering ethnosensitive discussions on erotic coming-of-age[1], the Ghotul institution of the Muria was studied by Elwin[2], and later by Gell (1992)[3]. The alleged positive aspects of the institution were never established[4]. Elwin (1968:p127-8):


“From their earliest days in the ghotul the little chlik and motiari play together until gradually, imperceptibly the vaginal entrance is enlarged and the hymen disappears without a tear. “We used to behave’, said an elderly man, “exactly like little bulls and cows, sporting together till the bull could penetrate”. “When you sleep with a girl night after night”, said a chelik, “however small you may be, as long as flesh becomes wood, you try to beat her with it. […]”.


“The adults supervise and encourage all the sexual activities that take place in the dormitories. Although at times children as little as two years of age are taken to sleep in the dormitories, they are usually not required to be part of the sex activities until 5 or 6, since if they are made to have sex at 3 or 4 they often “wet their beds [and] wake up crying” (Elwin, 1947:p358).

Elwin (1947:p419-58) gives a detailed analysis of the sexual mores of the ghotul. Quoting some of the Murian attitudes to prepubescent coitus: “Real happiness only comes when you are both mature. Of course the kids do it, but without the falling of water there’s little pleasure. It is like eating a raw fruit. There is no sweetness in it. It is like rice without salt” […]. To try to have a girl before she is mature is as hard as for a pig to dig up roots. Sometimes he manages it; it gets the root up and enjoys it. But it prefers its ordinary foods”.

The Muria dormitories are called a “happy, exciting world” in contrast, says Elwin (1964:p167)[5], to other Indian villages where there was more child rape than in dormitory villages.

An initiation ceremony includes penile insertion in a lubricated split twig.











Additional refs.: Burling (1963)[6]




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

Last revised: Sept 2004


[1] E.g., Brongersma, E. (1963) De les van de Muria, Te Elfder Ure [Dutch]10,10:308-12; DeMause (1991), op.cit.; Müller, K. E. & Treml, A. K. (Eds., 2002) Wie Man zum Wilden Wird. Berlin: D. Reimer, p206-18; Valsiner, J. (2000) Culture and Human Development: An Introduction. London [etc.]: Sage, p285; Currier, R. L. (1981) Juvenile sexuality in a global perspective, in Constantine, L. L. & Martinson, F. M. (Eds.) Children and Sex: New Findings, New Perspectives. Boston: Little, Brown, p9-19, esp. p9-12; Symons, D. (1979) The Evolution of Human Sexuality. New York: Oxford University Press, p114-6

[2] Elwin, V. (1947) The Muria and their Ghotul. Bombay (etc.): Oxford University Press; Elwin, V. (1968) The Kingdom of the Young. Bombay/London: Oxford University Press. For a discussion on Elwin as a sexologist, see his biography by Guha, R. (1999) Savaging the Civilized: Verrier Elwin, His Tribals, and India. New Dehli: University of Chicago Press

[3] Gell, S. M. S. (1992) The Ghotul in Muria Society. Philadelphia: Harwood Academic Publishers. Based on a 1984 PhD thesis, Australian National University, Canberra. Cf. Gell, S. M. S. (1996) The Ghotul in Muria Society., J Anthropol Soc Oxford 27,2:178-80

[4] However, see Singh, B. G. & Verma, O. P. (1990) Cultural differences in locus of control beliefs in two Indian societies, J Social Psychol 130,6:725-9

[5] Elwin, V. (1964) The Tribal World of Verrier Elwin: An Autobiography. Oxford: Oxford University Press

[6] Burling, R. (1963) Rengsanggri: Family and Kinship in a Garo Village. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press