Gujarati - Kinship, Marriage and Family

Kin Groups and Descent. Descent is agnatic and patrilineal.

Marriage. Among the Hindu Gujaratis, marriage is a sacrament. It is arranged by parents. Certain castes ( jatis ) follow the principle of endogamy in which a man must marry not only within his jati but also within his subjati, which is divided into ekdas and gols (i.e., circles). However, among certain castes exogamy restricts the circle within which marriage can be arranged. It forbids the members of a particular group in a caste, usually believed to be descended from a common ancestor or associated with a particular locality, to marry anyone who is a member of the same group. Another custom among the Rajputs, Patidars, and Brahmans is hypergamy, which forbids a woman of a particular group to marry a man of a group lower than her own in social standing and compels her to marry into a group of equal or superior rank.

Domestic Unit. The family is generally considered to be the parents, married as well as unmarried sons, and widowed sisters. The joint family is a norm particularly among the trading and landed castes and also among the Muslims in rural areas. In the traditional joint family, three generations live together. All the family members eat from one kitchen and cultivate land jointly. Even if the kitchens become separate, cooperative farming continues in many cases. A joint family may have more than thirty members, although such cases are exceptional. A typical joint family has from eight to twelve members in rural areas and six to eight members in urban areas. Joint families are becoming less common. The head of the family—the father or grandfather—exercises authority over all family members. Women and even married sons have no independence and can do little without first obtaining consent or approval from the head. This situation is now changing.

Inheritance. Among the Hindus, consanguinity is the guiding principle for determining the right of inheritance. The following are heirs in order of precedence: sons, sons' sons, sons' grandsons, the widow of the deceased, daughters, daughters' sons, mother, father, brothers, brothers' sons. Alhough inheritance is based on patrilineal principles, two women—the widow and the daughter—are very high on the scale of priority.

Socialization. Infants and children are raised by the mother and grandparents, though the role of the father in bringing up the children has recently increased. A girl is not closely looked after and she is involved in household chores from a very young age, whereas a boy is protected and indulged.

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