What Is Fraternal Polyandry?


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Fraternal polyandry is a custom of sharing or marrying a female by two or more brothers. It is practiced in the Himalayas (Tibet, Nepal and parts of northern India) and also in the Canadian Arctic.

In Tibet, society allows a variety of marriages, including 'Fraternal Polyandry'. As a country which is largely a high altitude desert and has had to keep its population in check, Tibetans have used a variety of methods to do so. Fraternal polyandry, female infanticide, and sending children to monasteries to become celibate monks are some of the means used.

This custom 'fraternal polyandry' was also followed in northern India and Nepal, where it's now outlawed. In the Mahabharata, Arjuna wins the hand of Drupadi and then goes and tells his mother that he has won a prize. Kunti, his mother, not realizing what the prize is, commands him to share the prize with his brothers. The brothers then take her on as a common wife.

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