The skin system
Every man and woman in the community belong to one of four Galharra groups - Banaga, Burungu, Balyirri or Garimarra.
A lot of business in the community follows people’s Galharra relationship to one another. Take our Birdarra Law ceremony for example, it is run by strict rules which guide everyone in the part they have to play during the ceremony. Each person understands their job by knowing their Galharra relationship to the boy going through the Law.
Our Galharra is the most important part of the Law passed to us by the Marrga during the learning times. A baby’s Galharra is decided by the Galharra of his or her parents and according to the Law there are special rules of marriage between Galharra groups.
A Banaga man must marry a Burungu woman and all their children are Balyirri. A Burungu man marries a Banaga woman and their children are Garimarra.
On the other side, Garimarra men must marry Balyirri women and their children are Burungu. Balyirri men marry Garimarra women and their children become Banaga.
All things in the world have Galharra - plants, animals, the sun, rain, wind, all sacred sites and permanent pools, all belong to one of the four Galharra groups, and so they are in relationship to us in the same way as an uncle, cousin or parent.
Through Galharra relationships our community is one big extended family with clear rules of respect and discipline. Just by knowing your Galharra people know how to relate to you, they can work out whether you are brother, auntie, cousin, nephew or whatever. If you don’t know your Galharra, then you’d be lost wherever you go.
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