?Natra? tradition continues | india | Hindustan Times
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?Natra? tradition continues

LILA BAI of Ranayati village in Rajgarh district of Madhya Pradesh is ?living? with her paramour for the last few years. Married at the age of 12, she left her first husband after marital discord. She eloped with her paramour and the two have been in a ?live-in? relation since then. Her paramour had to, however, dole out a hefty amount to Lila?s husband for ?taking away? his wife.

india Updated: Mar 20, 2006 14:28 IST

LILA BAI of Ranayati village in Rajgarh district of Madhya Pradesh is ‘living’ with her paramour for the last few years. Married at the age of 12, she left her first husband after marital discord. She eloped with her paramour and the two have been in a ‘live-in’ relation since then. Her paramour had to, however, dole out a hefty amount to Lila’s husband for ‘taking away’ his wife.

Lila is now living with her paramour without divorcing her husband and this relation has also got a social approval. Prevalent in several remote hamlets of Rajgarh and Shajapur districts, Natra — as this is traditionally called — permits women to o ‘abandon’ their husbands and live with another man.

The ‘other’ man has to dole out a handsome amount of money to the first husband as part of the marital breakup. The woman lives with the ‘other’ man without actually marrying him. In local language it is said ‘voh aurat doosre ke ghar baith gayee hai’ (that woman is living in somebody else’s house)

Sixty-seven-year-old Shiv Narayan Sen, a Nehru Yuvak Kendra worker in Rajgarh district says, “This has been practiced since ages. The main cause is child marriage wherein a couple married at a young age finds itself mutually incompatible as they grow.”

In some cases, when a wife is not able to bear a child, a man can bring another woman without actually divorcing his first wife. “He has to however give cash to the other woman’s family.”

After a woman leaves her husband and starts living with another man, a social panchayat is called consisting of eminent persons of the village. It is for the panchayat to decide on how much the ‘second husband’ would have to pay. The amount is outlined as per the status of the party. It could vary anywhere between Rs 10,000 to Rs 2 lakh.

Failure to give the money stipulated by the panchayat could trigger a violent backlash including bloodshed. After the payment of money, there is a celebration marked with an amicable feast attended by both the parties.

If the woman leaves her husband for her parental house also, then also there is an exchange of money to settle the matter.


In one instance, Naurang Bai, who had been married for more than two decades, left her husband for her parental home after being subjected to physical torture for not bearing a male child. Her in-laws demanded a huge amount from her parents. (Names have been changed to protect the identities)