In India, we have three matrilineal societies and, of them, two are juxtaposed in the State of Meghalaya while the other is far away, in another part of the subcontinent. In spite of their proximity through historical reckoning, the Khasi, Jaintia and Garo societies are not only linguistically different; each is also unique in its structural and functional existence.
The people of Meghalaya being the followers of matrilineal social system, the Khasi women enjoy a special place. A Khasi woman is the guardian and preserver of the family goods. The children take their name from her. The mother, and through her authority, preserves the religious observances, usages and customs common to the family and society. Indeed, she plays a crucial role in the affairs of the family. The father has a definite role to play in the affairs of the family, but is limited by the final words of his brother–in–law.
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