JAISALMER: Several men of Ramdeyo-Ki-Basti in Jaisalmer claim to be happily married twice over, thanks to their tradition of having two wives. Ramdeyo-Ki-Basti is a small village with a total population of 946 (2011 Census), in Derasar gram panchayat in the desert district.
Men in about half of the households in the village have married twice and are living with both their wives together. Most of them claim that they had little choice but to remarry as their first wife failed to conceive or gave birth to daughters. The trend though is mostly restricted to the older generation and not to the current generation.
It had almost become a belief in the village that it is the second wife which would give birth to a son. “A second wife is like a surety for a son,” said one of the elderly residents of the village. Locals claim that one way of ensuring cordial relations is that meals are cooked together. “No question of separate kitchens,” they claimed.
Men with two wives are, though not common, found in a few hamlets among the minority communities in Jaisalmer and Barmer. However, Ramdeyo-Ki-Basti is a rare case where the number of such households is high and quite common.
The women in the village do not object as the men ensure equal rights to both their wives. “The onus of keeping the women happy lies on us and we ensure that nobody feels neglected. There has never been a case of conflict or any major issue. The children too are expected to take care of both their mothers. The women themselves live in peace and harmony,” said Dost Ali, a madarsa teacher.
“Call it a coincidence or God’s wishes but at least one man in every second house in this village has two wives,” said Maulvi Nishru Khan, who is a resident of the village. Both of his two brothers, Mohammad Sarif and Mohammad Kasim, have two wives. “Sarif and his first wife did not have any children and hence he remarried. Kasim’s first wife gave birth to daughters and he was blessed with a son after his second marriage,” said Khan.