They, along with several other cultures across the world, have adopted the tradition of sororate marriage, in which a widower marries his late wife's sister. It's a twist on the far more common practice of levirate marriage, which is commanded in Deuteronomy and involves a widow marrying her late husband's brother. That way, the woman will be married and taken care of by relatives, just like her deceased husband would have wanted.
In ancient Rome, the sister-in-law was not welcome at the funeral because the family believed she would take their inheritance. The widower could, however, petition the court for permission to marry his wife's sister. If this was granted, the bride and groom then had to face the danger of not being awarded any inheritance because it was considered unworthy of receiving anything.
Today, this type of marriage remains popular in some countries, such as India. In addition, there are still many tribes in South America that practice sororate marriage.
In the Western world, this form of marriage is rare. Instead, most people get married within their own class or social standing. However, some wealthy families do hire professional matchmakers who will search out suitable spouses and arrange meetings between the parties involved. These matchmakers often work with families who want to ensure their children are not only married into good homes, but also that they don't risk losing everything they have worked for during life.
A sororate is a tradition or regulation that states that a widower should, or in rare situations, must, marry the sister of his deceased wife. The name derives from the Latin word soror, which means "sister," and was coined by British anthropologist Sir James George Frazer. In his book The Golden Bough, he suggests that this practice may have originated with ancient Roman priests who needed to maintain the number of sacrificial goats at the Feast of Lupercal.
Sororal marriage has been documented throughout history, both in Europe and in other parts of the world. It remains common today among some tribal peoples, such as the Ndembu people of Zambia and Zimbabwe, and the Toda people of South India. In many cases, the husband's family will provide financial support to the wife during her period of mourning; sometimes this support can include housing her and their children.
In most countries, including the United States, Canada, and England, it is considered inappropriate for a man to marry his deceased wife's sister. If a man were to do so, there would be no way for him to avoid being charged with bigamy. However, cultural norms regarding marriageability and divorceability of partners may differ greatly between countries and cultures. For example, in some Asian cultures, a widow may feel compelled to marry again within a year or two after her husband's death, while in other cultures she may be able to choose her subsequent spouse.
If she is widowed when her children are still young, she is obligated to marry her late husband's brother. This type of marriage is known as "levirate." The word comes from the Latin meaning "widow," and it exists to preserve the family line by providing someone to marry so that no one is left behind. If she has no children, then she can choose anyone she wants for a spouse.
In ancient Rome, the levirate law was very important because there weren't many siblings. So if one died without leaving any children, the other would marry the widow with the hope of having children together. This way, the family name wouldn't be lost after all those years without marrying again.
In Islam, the same rule applies only instead of marrying his brother's wife, the brother-in-law will marry the sister of the deceased man. This way, also, the family line isn't erased from history after all those years without getting married again.
In some countries, like America, if a woman doesn't have any children after her first marriage she can get married again without any problems. But if she gets divorced, then she cannot get married again until she has something to live on. This way, people don't just run off with her money after all those years of working hard for it.
In Levirate, custom or law dictates that a widow should, or in rare situations, must, marry the brother of her deceased husband. The title is derived from the Latin word "levir," which means "husband's brother." The "brother" might be the deceased's biological sibling or a person who is socially recognized as such. In ancient Rome, for example, a wife's brother could also act as her legal guardian if she had no children.
The Levirate marriage ensures that an heir will be found for the deceased man and it is recommended but not required by scripture. If no brother can be found, then one has to be appointed by law or community practice. The widow is expected to choose this person before other members of the community. The appointment must be made by oral or written agreement between the widow and the appointee. They cannot be married to others at the time of the death of their spouse.
In most cases, when a husband dies without leaving any children, his sister would be the next best choice to marry him. But if he leaves children but no sisters, then some other relative would have to be selected by the mother of the dead husband. This would usually be another uncle or someone else related to the family. Sometimes people select a neighbor instead; this would depend on what kind of person the widow is looking for as a husband. She wouldn't want someone who would take advantage of her situation so there would be no obligation on her part once they married.