from "What Do Dogs Know?":
dogs, and spiritual beliefs all mix in a strange custom
found in Central India among certain of the Gond peoples.
This leads to a ritual that actually accepts the marriage
of a human being to a dog. The Gond are aboriginal tribes,
that still speak fairly a obscure set of unwritten languages.
Their life style, while not truly nomadic, tends not to
have permanent settlements and villages are periodically
moved to various sites on land communally owned by their
clan. Their beliefs place them outside of the Hindu caste
system. They do not acknowledge the superiority of Brahmans
and don't feel bound by many Hindu rules. Especially in
the highlands of Bastar, their style of agriculture is
quite traditional, involving slash and burn operations.
Because they are continually clearing wild land, the Gond
often encounter wild animals, and these encounters can
be fatal to humans armed only with digging sticks or hoes.
The Gond of Bastar believe that if a woman's husband has
been killed by a wild animal, especially a tiger, it is
necessary for her to marry a dog, before she can take
The Gond believe that the dead husband's spirit now inhabits
the tiger or other beast that killed him and this spirit
will then cause that same beast to kill any new man that
the woman marries. To solve this problem the widow first
must ceremonially marry a dog. The dead husband's spirit
can then satisfy his jealousy be killing the dog, and
he will not threaten the life of the new human husband.
While this seems like a good outcome for the woman, I
think that dogs know that a simple divorce would be a
better end of their marriage than one the Gond envisions
© 1999 Stanley Coren.
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