Sergamathang Kothkin and other Bhutanese Marriage Customs

Sergamathang Kothkin and other Bhutanese Marriage Customs by Lham Dorji

This monograph consists of three papers on Bhutanese marriage customs. All these papers were based on oral sources. I have tried to maintain the structure of papers to best convey the ideas as expressed to me by the respondents.

A paper on sergamathang kothkin gives an account of cross cousin marriages prevalent in eastern Bhutan. One’s sergamathang (female cross cousin) is conceptually regarded equal to gold. It is considered a privilege to marry one’s female cousin. However, with new ideas of love and romance, new legal concepts and medical reasons, this custom is slowly declining.

A paper on ngenzhung describes a marriage custom of lower kheng in Zhemgang. A wedding ceremony is long and complicated. It involves lot of sacrifices for a groom and his family. The groom has to contribute three years labour service to his bride’s household. During his three years trial, his in- laws assess his intention, integrity and capability. It requires for the groom’s parents to supply plenty of drinks and meats for a wedding banquets.

A paper on jomongengi is an account of a wedding ceremony in Merak and Saketeng. Marriages take place between cross cousins (tsho-khruma) or someone outside one’s kinship group (ngenlam gorma). This tradition was believed to have come down from Ama Jomo. A wedding ceremony is extensive and last for more than three days.