What is a home son in law 

India has a tradition of joint family. In Patriarchal society, the wife goes to live with her husband's joint family. This is the norm. However, some times the husband lives with his in-laws. This is exceptional. A man living with his in laws is called a Ghar Jamai or Ghar Damaad (Home son in law).

Ghar Jamai (Home son in law) is a funny relation     

A Ghar jamai is generally looked  upon with contempt and ridicule. He is acceptable for a few days as a guest but not for permanent stay in inlaw house. In the Brij region (Mathura- Vrindavan and surroundings), a Ghar jamai is also known as 'Mehmaan' (Guest).  During short stay, a son in law or Damaad also called Jamai is given a very hearty welcome. He gets excellent hospitality. The sisters in law keep him in good humor. His parents in law arrange best dish for him and attempt to make his stay very comfortable. There is a humorous song-  Kya Kahane sasural (in law house) ke, jo maje sasural men, na simla men na nainital men (In law house (sasural) is superb. Neither Simla nor Nainital are comparable to sasural (inlaw's house).  Many movies have been made on this theme. Some movies include small content relating to this theme for adding spice to the movie. One such movie was Neel kamal in which Mahmood played the Jamai (son in law" role. Whern a son in law stays for longer period with his inlaws, he is subjected to ridicule and contempt. In Punjabi, there is a proverb that Ghar Jamai is worse than a dog.

Why Ghar Jamai is exception

In view of the social system and family law as well as rules of inheritance, sons and not daughters succeed to their parents. a daughter is known as 'others' property' (Paraya dhan). She is supposed to go to her husband's home one day. The song in the movie Neel Kamal refers:  Babul ki duane leti jaa. Jaa tujhe sukhi sansar mile. Mayake ki kabhi yaad na aye sasural men itna pyar mile (Father's blessings for happy life. Let Parental house not even come to your mind- so much love you may get in sasural (husband's parental home). There is so much literature and tradition about a daughter leaving her parental home to go to live with her husband.  But there is nothing about a husband going to live with his wife. In the same movie, Neel kamal' is comic Ghar Jamai starred by Mahmood.

Relevance of  Ghar Jamai in certain circumstances

There is lot of change in cricumstances. There are a good number of working women. A husband is no more so authoritative or powerful as before. Women also consider it their duty to care for their own parents apart from parents in law. This is more true about women with independent means. Thie necessitates them as well as their husbands to give equal care to parents as well as parents in law. There are also individuals with no son and only daughters. In this situation, daughter needs to support her parents. Needless to say that a woman with her own independent income has a right to care and look after her own parents also. Similarly, when she cares for her parents in law, she has every reason to expect similar treatment to her own parents by her husband as well.  

A Ghar Jamai is necessity for those with daughters only. Many look for Ghar jamai while selecting groom for their daughters. A Ghar jamai may not be just a puppet of his wife's parents. He could even be as good as their own son just as a daughter in law can be as good as own daughter. There are businessmen who need active support in business by their sons but they have only daughters or their sons are not available for business. Their son in law could be helpful in business as well.  There are also professionals like chartered Accountants and doctors who would like to involve their sons in law in their professional work. The business firms of father and sons are well known. We may also see some times in future business firms of Father in law and sons in law. Now see the case of government employees. A government employee may be posted in a city where his parents in law reside. There is nothing wrong in his living in wife's parents house.

This is a case of gender equality. When man and woman are considered equal, there should be no stigma attached to Ghar Jamai.  When Ghar Bahu (House wife) is okay why not Ghar Jamai in appropriate circumstances. This is a matter of convenience only. In fact, depending on parents is as bad as depending on parents in law. What is significant is that every man and woman should be self dependant and useful to society and others.          


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Comments (1)

  1. Xavier Bage

Though a ghar jamai is looked down upon by some this custom of keeping ghar jamai is very practical. When there is no son in the family he serves as a son and looks after the old in laws. If the boy is someone without living parents, this...

Though a ghar jamai is looked down upon by some this custom of keeping ghar jamai is very practical. When there is no son in the family he serves as a son and looks after the old in laws. If the boy is someone without living parents, this arrangement helps him emotionally too.

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