Peripatetics - Kinship, Marriage, and Family



Kinship. The most important kinship group after the household is the extended family, which may travel and camp together for a part of the year or for the entire year. Descent is traced patrilineally through a common ancestor. Members of the lineage have certain responsibilities and obligations that are expressed during life-cycle rituals and particularly in crisis situations. Some of the groups have bands, with membership determined by patrilineal, matrilineal, and affinal kin ties and by friendship.

Marriage. There are a wide variety of rules regarding marriage. While most of the groups based in central and southern India would allow or prefer cross-cousin and even uncle-niece marriage, groups in the north, west, and east prohibit such marriages. The age at marriage is generally low. Postmarital residence is always with the parents of the husband at first, but later the couple may establish their own home within the husband's father's band. Marriages are generally arranged by elders. In some groups, parents of a boy may have to pay to obtain a bride for their son.

Domestic Unit. The household is the smallest and most important domestic unit among the peripatetics. It is composed of husband, wife, and their unmarried children, and at times it may also include the husband's elderly parent(s). The composition of the household varies during different phases of its developmental cycle. Each household is economically independent and is responsible for meeting kinship obligations.

Inheritance. Inheritance is through the male line. In some of the groups it is the youngest son who inherits the household property. He also has responsibility for caring for the elderly parents.

Socialization. Children learn as they grow up and are given tasks according to their age and sex. In some groups, such as acrobats and animal displayers, children receive formal training starting in early childhood.


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