Kin Groups and Descent. Almost all Nepalis belong to patrilineal descent systems which organize marital, Inheritance, and ritual behavior to varying degrees. A few groups along the Tibetan border recognize bilateral relations and function largely in terms of named households and kindreds. Most villages are dominated by one ethnic group and consist usually of a number of exogamous—and, in some northern regions, endogamous—patriclans. A few groups such as the Sherpa and Gurung have ranked, endogamous phratries or moieties, which consist of a number of clans that are associated with an aristocratic or ritual status. Members of clans consider themselves related through a common, though unknown, ancestor. Local descent groups or lineages form active, functioning agnatic units. Affiliation in a local descent group is marked by recognition of a common ancestor, observance of birth and death pollution, and, often, participation in mutual-aid groups. Men and women are born into their fathers' clans, though upon marriage a woman becomes a Member of her husband's clan. Ties to matrilateral households and kindred may often be important sources of support, ritual relationships, and, at times, status (e.g., among Nyinba).
Kinship Terminology. Among many Nepali-speaking and also some Tibeto-Burman-speaking groups siblings may be addressed according to an age order from oldest to youngest or simply as an older or younger sibling (e.g., Jetha, Kānchha). In many groups siblings address parallel and some cross cousins with sibling terms. In the first ascending generation parents' parallel siblings may be addressed with parental terms marked by their age rank (i.e., older or younger). Cross parental siblings may be addressed by particular terms and treated in a distinctively relaxed or more formal manner. Family and lineage relations almost always observe marital taboos. However, for some groups, such as high-caste Hindus, phratries or gotra are exogamous, while for other groups, such as the Gurung, their moieties are endogamous.