Lingayat - Marriage and Family
Marriage. A common practice among Lingayat parents is to arrange their children's marriages. About five decades ago, a bride and bridegroom could see each other's face only at the marriage pedestal, but increasing education and widespread urbanization have crept into the villages and slowly affected the ways of traditional matchmaking. These days "love" Marriages are heard of even in the countryside. In educated Lingayat families, younger generations enjoy some freedom in the choice of partners, a practice unheard of half a century ago. The use of horoscopes is conspicuously absent among the Lingayats. Divorce and separation are uncommon and marital breakdowns are frowned upon. Precautions against possible disintegration are taken by arranging interkin Marriages, which help to strengthen the marital bonds. In the event of a breakdown, however, Lingayat attitudes toward divorce, especially in comparison with some other religious groups, are liberal and tolerant. They are equally liberal in encouraging widow remarriages, which are condemned by the Hindu-Brahmanic society. Residence is patrilocal among rural Lingayats. Upon marriage, the bride goes to live with the groom's household. Among urbanites they are expected to live independently. For an educated Lingayat couple, neolocal residence is the norm.
Domestic Unit. The extended family is regarded as the ideal arrangement among rural Lingayats, although the nuclear family is actually more common and there are occasional instances of conjugal family arrangements. Nuclear or conjugal, the family does not live in isolation, as it is always embedded in the larger kin group. Since the collective solidarity of the kin group is the prime value in the community, family autonomy and privacy are never its concerns. All related families are held together by a sense of mutuality and complementarity. Such interdependence is seen on occasions of births, weddings, fairs, and festivals. The urban Lingayat Family is primarily nuclear but it too maintains its ties with its rural kin by providing shelter, hospitality, and employment opportunities, when needed.
Inheritance. Traditionally, legal rights favored the patrilineage. Upon marriage, a girl took her husband's surname and all the legal claims that went with it. Her loss of a share in her parental family property, however, was met through adequate gifts of jewelry and gold during her marriage and on successive visits to the natal family. Her parents and siblings fulfilled their moral obligations to her, especially in times of crisis. Such customs and conventions generally created an environment in which brother-sister relations continued even after the parents' deaths. The Succession Act of 1956 that gave guaranteed equal rights to surviving children of deceased parents altered the bonds that once united the conjugal and natal families and brother-sister relationships. It is not uncommon these days for brothers and sisters to behave like rivals over the sharing of parental property and to take their claims to court.
Socialization. The socialization of a Lingayat child begins immediately after birth when the priest, the jangama, visits the home, names the child, and initiates him or her into the Lingayat faith by tying a linga around the child's neck. His role in communicating the values of his faith continues throughout the life of the named child, especially during some major life stages. Among other agents of socialization, mother, grandmother, father, siblings, and other extended relatives are significant, in that order. Among the nonfamilial agents, priest, peer group, elders, and teachers are effective. Socialization within the family is primarily informal and learning occurs there mostly by observation and imitation. Obedience and respect for elders, trust in their god and Religion, hard work, and generosity are some of the values that Lingayat parents like to see in their children.