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Commission mulls legalisation of marriage under Mizo customary laws

Aizawl: Mizoram State Law Commission recommends that once a bride’s price is paid in accordance with the Mizo custom by the groom’s family and accepted by the bride’s family, the couple should be accepted as legally married.

The state Law Commission, in a meeting chaired by its chairman Lala Khobung on Friday has recommended several amendments to the ‘Mizo Marriage, Divorce and Inheritance of Property Act, 2014.
Amongst the most significant point is the proposal that acceptance of a couple’s marriage after ceremony of the payment of the bride’s price or ‘man leh mual’ in Mizo language is customarily completed.
“The solemnisation of a marriage in the church will still be undertaken by the couple. But the marriage becomes legal even before the church wedding ceremony of the price of the bride ceremony is done in accordance with the customary law,” the recommendation said.
The recommendations will have to go through the state law and judicial department and the proposed amendment will be introduced in the state assembly after the state Cabinet’s nod.
Marriage among the Mizos is called ‘Mizo Kristian Inneih Dan’ or ‘Mizo Christian Marriage, a mixture of customary marriage as solemnisation of customary marriage is inevitably followed by religious wedding in the church.
For years, those who get married according to the customary way are regarded as living in sin if they stay together before solemnisation of the marriage in a Christian wedding in the church, by the church as well as the society dominated by Christian religion.
In a marriage under the Mizo customary law, a bride’s price amounting to Rs 420 is paid by the groom’s family to the bride’s family by ‘palai’ or messengers as a token of the mutual acceptance between the two families signifying the unification of the bride and the groom as one entity.
The bride’s family takes Rs 400 and returns Rs 20 as a custom signifying ‘security’ in the event of divorce or separation. The groom’s family has to return the remaining Rs 20 to the bride’s family in case of divorce decided by the groom’s family, which is called ‘mak’ like the Muslim law’s ‘talaq’.
However, if the bride’s side initiated a divorce called ‘sumchhuah’ or return of the money, it will have to return Rs 400 to the groom’s family.
While customary laws are usually codified and not legislated, the state legislative assembly passed the Mizo Marriage, Divorce and Inheritance of Property Act in 2014 which came to be in force from February 13, 2015.
The act is based on the Mizo Customary Law, but several changes were made in accordance with proposals from the Mizo Hmeichhe Insuihkhawm Pawl (MHIP), Mizo women association, other civil societies and prominent citizens. 
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