Jat - Kinship, Marriage, and Family

Kin Groups and Descent. All Jat are divided into several large, usually dispersed clans, whose localized segments are often geographically compact, but among peasants they are sometimes equally dispersed, due to the population pressure on land. Most clans are de facto maximal lineages, which are further segmented; among Jat peasants this segmentation takes place at four broad levels. The minimal lineage is composed of a group of households, which had formed a single household two or three generations previously; they may still share a common courtyard and have joint rights to a well.

Marriage. While among Muslim Jat the practice of exchange marriage takes place at various levels of lineage organization, among Hindu and Sikh Jat no such exchange marriages are allowed, and the rule of exogamy is such that a man may not marry a woman who has any of her four grandparental clans in common with his. Polygyny is allowed though not common, and the custom of adelphic polyandry, or the sexual access by an unmarried man to his brother's wife—which was often practiced by at least non-Muslim peasant Jat, in order to prevent further fragmentation of land—has declined in recent decades. Among all Jat, widow remarriage is permitted; either levirate is required or a widow is not allowed to remarry outside the maximal lineage, especially when she has children by her late husband. The practice of female infanticide, also known among the peasants, has dropped sharply. A woman's relationship with her husband's kin is organized according to a basic pattern of avoidance with seniors and of joking with those younger than the husband. Brothers share a common duty toward their sisters and their children.

Domestic Unit. Most Jat peasant households consist of lineal joint families, with the parents and one married son; many units are nuclear and some are collateral-joint, with two married brothers and their offspring living together. Among nomadic Jat the nuclear family and the lineal joint family are the most common domestic units.

Inheritance. Among those with land, all sons inherit equal shares in terms of both quantity and quality. Formerly, a man's wives shared equally on behalf of their sons, irrespective of the number of sons each had. Although in theory inheritance of land follows a strictly agnatic principle and daughters and sisters do not inherit, daughters' sons have been observed de facto to be among the inheritors in many cases.

User Contributions:

Comment about this article, ask questions, or add new information about this topic: