Kin Groups and Descent. The kinship universe of the Lingayats can be described in terms of two categories: effective and noneffective. Relationships among effective kin are close, intimate, obligatory, and reciprocal, whereas those among noneffective kin are less intimate and functionally insignificant. Effective kin are those closely related by descent and marriage, and mate selection among such kin is preferential. Noneffective kin are remotely related and rarely remembered, and meaningful interaction between them is absent. Ideally, Lingayat kinship emphasizes the patrimonial principle, but in reality matrilineal orientations prevail both in sentiments and obligations. Kin groups among rural Lingayats maintain and reinforce their kinship relations through uncleniece, cross-cousin, and exchange marriages. Affinal relationships are recognized only if they are involved in preferential marriages.
Kinship Terminology. Lingayat kinship may be described as multilateral with partly descriptive and partly generic kin terms. Father's brothers and sisters, for example, are described as "big" or "little" "fathers" and "mothers" depending on relative age; terms for paternal and maternal grandfathers and grandmothers are treated in the same way.