Changing family patterns among pakhtuns:

There is no society in the world, which is neither completely static nor completely dynamic, but changes occur in them with the passage of time. Now a days main factors, which are responsible for these changes are industrialization, urbanization, immigrations etc. Electronic media, such as TV cable and Internet etc plays an important role in changing lifestyles of the people.

Another main factor of change depends upon the members of society, that whether they accept innovation, techniques and ideas of other groups as it is or with little modifications, which could match their own culture and tradition.

The Pukhtuns of NWFP are no doubt living in traditional joint families, yet there traditional structure of family has undergone tremendous changes due to the above-mentioned forces.

In past, people of rural areas use to live in a joint family system. They use to adopt the traditional hereditary occupation of ancestors. The cause was lack of means of transport and communication. Then with the passage of time, when technology came, people start abandoning their traditional ways of living and occupation and shifted to urban areas and then immigrated to other countries for better education and employment. All these could possible only due to easy means of communication. This given a boost to acculturation, thus obviously changes start coming in typical pukhtun society.

A joint family provides mutual aid, assistance and social security to its members in all situations. In every sort of crises in life such as birth, marriage, death, it provides economic, spiritual, emotional and physical support.

In a traditional joint family usually endogamous and parallel cousin marriages are preferred. The rejection of proposal by the female side leads to disintegration of joint family. With the passage of time this trend however also becomes lesser now. Some people now prefer exogamous marriages. They consider it genetically more suitable.
Now marriages took place not only outside the family and cross cousin etc but also with other culture people. Immigrations have given way to marriages other then in one’s own culture. In conservative pakhtun society the boy and girl usually don’t have choice to choose his/her partner but now families are giving this right to both a girl and boy to choose their life partners.

Pukhtun consider women as a joint property of their joint family. So a widow is never allowed to remarry outside the family. She is imposed to marry with her brother in law (Levir), but now there are no such restrictions. The widow is free to remarry with a man, whom she likes. There is no compulsion for levirate marriage. But in case, she marries outside without the consent of her previous in-laws, then she is not given the share in property.

Sororate (marriage with deceased sister’s husband) is highly practice among Pukhtuns. It is preferred even now, yet there is no compulsion. But in past, the sister of deceased lady was compelled to marry her deceased sister’s husband. In pukhtun society due to patrilineal system, patrilocal residence is practiced so in such type of residence, the grand father exercises the authority. Husbands never go to live with wife that is Matrilocal residence. It is consider a matter of shame.

Now days these residential patterns are changing. Today priority is given to neo local residence that is neither patriarchal nor matriarchal.

The traditional joint family shares common dwelling and common property. They pooled their income in one place, whose administrator is the head of family (Mashar). And then from here the needs of every member of family are fulfilled irrespective of his capacity.
But now while people having more education and new income opportunities, the young generation feels hesitated to pool their income. They give the reason that expenditure is too more even to support their own immediate family. Moreover they desire to live independent. Females got educated and started earning which have changed the traditional economic function of joint family to some extent.


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