A village of house husbands in male-chauvinist Haryana

Ki & Ka is a Hindi film and movie buffs will vouch that this Bollywood flick of last year, starring Kareena and Arjun Kapoor, was different in lot many ways. One, of course, was its script that revolved around the life of a house husband, henpecked at times. Ki and Ka made decent profit, but didn’t connect much with the masses.

That was also because house husbands are uncommon in India. That popular perception continues to impact the altering narrative. A culture of a groom relocating to his bride’s house after marriage is missing in most regions of the country. The other way round--the bride relocating to her husband’s house--has long been perceived as the stated norm, rightly or otherwise, especially in rural areas.

Washing utensils, mopping floor, cooking food, procuring grocery and even serving hot supper for the better-half may be something many men may well be subscribing to, albeit clandestinely. But overtly, it doesn’t seem to be much in vogue. Or is it? One village in male-chauvinist Jatland in Haryana would laugh all the way in utter surprise.

It’s rubbishing the stereotype. Here, away from the reel life, the real life Arjun Kapoors galore. It’s a village of house husbands--the many proud ones who have no qualms about shifting base to their wives’ houses after marriage. In fact, that’s the stated norm in this village.

House husbands in the village aren’t shy of anything for they are not counted the odd ones out. The ‘other category of husbands’ preferring not to relocate to their wives’ homes form a part of the social mix. They co-exit, even laugh at the stereotype that exists elsewhere.

Dubbed identity

Village Saudapur in Panipat district of Haryana has nearly 600 house husbands. In fact, there are some families who now have a second generation of house husbands. This village now proudly lives with the dubbed identity as the village of “ghar jamai” (house husbands). The village is estimated to have a population of over 12,000 and a sizable number of inhabitants are outsiders. Village sarpanch Rajesh Saini says two blocks in the village have predominance of house husbands. Interestingly, Saini’s father Jai Bhagwan too became a part of this village as a house husband some 40 years ago after he got married.

Villagers say there are multiple factors that led to the men joining the bandwagon of house husbands. There have been many cases where the brides could not get along well with her parents-in-law after their marriage. This led to a situation where the newly wed shifted base to the bride’s place in Saudapur. The village is not far away from Panipat city on the national highway towards New Delhi.

Panipat has huge potential for employment and has popular hosiery and pickle industry. Jobs in villages are scarce, which is one of the factors for married men to relocate to their brides’ place and be tagged as house husbands. Villagers say this place has accepted this practice and a congenial environment exists for outsiders. Parents in the village are more than pleased to accommodate their daughters back at home even after marriage.

Jai Bhagwan is a “veteran house husband”. He narrates his story of being one. He says he and his newly wed wife decided to end their life following tussle in the family after their marriage some four decades ago. The newly wed then walked straight onto the railway line and waited for the morning train to arrive. The train was delayed for several hours as it had hit a tractor trailer at an earlier rail barricade. By evening the two decided against suicide.


Jai Bhagwan says his wife suggested him to make a new beginning from her parents place in Saudapur. They were welcomed with open arms. Jai Bhagwan eventually moved out after buying a plot and building a house on it. He recalls his story with a sense of deep gratitude. No regrets, whatsoever.

Sixty-year-old Jatiram says he left his village Lalayan for Saudapur for better job prospects. He shifted to in-laws house starting a new life. Denials apart, many may not admit it overtly for one or the other reason.

The option of a second house after marriage, away from their own, does have a bearing on the decision to choose this village for the nuptial knot. Villagers like Devana maintain there is a palpable harmony in the village and there have been lesser-known instances of friction arising out of a house husbands’ entry to the village fold.

In fact, many of the men who joined in as house husbands initially managed to have their own independent set-up eventually in the village leading to the possibility of durable sustained family relationship. If some villagers are to be believed, many house husbands participate in every day household work.

A village life is often bereft of luxuries and facilities that exist in urban settlements. Every person in the house contributes to his share of work that revolves around fodder for cattle, procurements, agriculture.

In fact none in the village, would want to admit even if they cook and serve hot supper at times to their better half at home. And why not? After all, they owe their house husband tag to them.

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