A young Indian woman has spoken out about being married to five husbands, all of whom are brothers.
Rajo Verma, 22, lives in one room with the siblings and they sleep on blankets on the floor.
Happy family: Five brothers (L-R) Sant Ram Verma, 28, Bajju Verma, 32, Gopal Verma, 26, Guddu Verma, 21, and Dinesh Verma, 19, with their shared wife Rajo Verma, 20, and their son Jay Verma
The set-up may seem peculiar, but it is tradition in the small village near Dehradun, Northern India, for women to also marry the brothers of their first husband.
She told the Sun: ‘Initially it felt a bit awkward. ‘But I don’t favour one over the other.’
Since then she has married Baiju, 32, Sant Ram, 28, Gopal, 26, and Dinesh, 19 – the latest in the line of husbands – who married her as soon as he turned 18.
‘We all have sex with her but I’m not jealous,’ first husband Guddu – who remains the only official spouse – said. ‘We’re one big happy family.’
Rajo said she knew she was expected to accept all of her husbands, as her own mother had also been married to three brothers.
She said they sleep together in turn, but that they do not have beds, just ‘lots of blankets on the floor’.
She added: ‘I get a lot more attention and love than most wives.’
Tradition: The set up may seem peculiar, but it is custom in the small village near Dehradun, Northern India, for women to also marry the brothers of her first husband
Wife: They sleep together in turn, but that they do not have beds, just ‘lots of blankets on the floor’. Rajo does not know which of the brothers is the father of her son
Housewife: Rajo said she got a lot more attention and love than many other wives
POLYANDRY: AN ANCIENT TRADITION
The practice of polyandry is believed to stem from the tale of Mahabharata, the ancient Indian epic.
The text, one of the cornerstones of Indian culture, sees Draupadi, daughter of the King of Pancha being married to five brothers.
It is not legal, but in its most common form – whereby women in polyandrous relationships marry more than one man from the same family – it is permitted.
It tends to be practised in male dominated villages, who still follow primitive rituals and customs. Brothers who refuse the union are often treated as outcasts.
In polyandrous families, the woman often cannot say which of her husbands fathered which children.
Recently, there have been instances of DNA testing, to solve inheritance disputes.
The ancient Hindu tradition of polyandry was once widely practiced in India, but is now only observed by a minority.
It sees a woman take more than one husband, typically in areas which are male dominated.
In fraternal polyandry the woman is expected to marry each of her original husband’s brothers.
It is thought to have arisen from the popular Sanskrit epic of Mahabharatha, which sees Draupadi, daughter of the King of Pancha being married to five brothers.
The practice is also believed to be a way of keeping farming land in the family.
It is most commonly found near the Himalayas in the north of the country, as well as in the mountainous nation of Tibet.
While the advance of modernity has seen the archaic practice largely die out in most areas, the shortage of women in countries such as China and India has helped keep it alive as a solution to young men’s difficulties in finding a wife.