Syrian Christian of Kerala - Kinship



Kin Groups and Descent. Syrian Christians do not have the exact equivalent of the Hindu joint family. However, extended families are found in which parents live in the same household with married sons and their families. This is rapidly changing due to modern education. In a 1987 study on changing kinship in Kerala, I found that among the educated middle and upper classes, the majority of married sons have independent households, a situation almost always approved by the parents who themselves are well educated. However, they maintain close ties with lineal and collateral kin and provide financial help where necessary. They get together often to celebrate birthdays and religious festivals. Even so, due to the increasing emphasis on individualism, as a result of Modern education, these ties are not as strong as they once were. Fortunately, the general improvement in the standard of living makes it less necessary to be economically dependent on kin. Descent is patrilineal. However, a 1987 Indian supreme court decision successfully challenged the exclusive right of sons to inherit.

Kinship Terminology. Depending on the age and rank of the immediate family members as well as other kin, there are different kin terms used to show respect and even older nonrelatives are addressed similarly to indicate respect.


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