Marriage and social organisation among pastoralists of the Dhaula Dhar (western Himalaya)
Fieldwork was carried out among the Hindu Gaddis and their associated castes, chiefly in Kangra and to a lesser extent in Chamba (Himachal Pradesh, India), Two main topics are examined. The place of transhumant pastoralism in the Gaddis' economy and in relation to their social organisation is described at length for the first time. Though the Gaddis are renowned as shepherds in Himachal Pradesh, the proportion who hold flocks of sheep and goats fluctuates greatly from village to village. My data stem from living in the Gaddi shepherding village par excellence. I explore the relationship between pastoralism, agriculture and wage labour, and I conclude that numbers of Gaddi-owned migratory livestock have fallen in recent decades. The primary topic, however, is marriage and the internal structure of the caste. I start by looking at an unusual case of women who never marry, and then move on to analyse the complex relationship between isogamy and hypergamy in the region, with particular reference to the structure of the caste. The working out of egalitarian principles in marriage in the northern half of the Indian subcontinent has not received the attention devoted to the more dominant tendency towards hierarchy. But while this study of the Gaddis' isogamy is a contribution to a neglected field, it does not foster any simple dichotomy between Himalayan Hindus and north India generally. On the contrary, the perspective chosen helps towards the better incorporation of Himalayan Hindu societies within models of marriage and kinship in north India generally.