Kin Groups and Descent. An individual is a member of the following groups: (1) a family residing in a household generally headed by the eldest male; (2) an endogamous subclan or branch of a patrilineage; (3) an exogamous clan (sharing a patrilineally transmitted family name); and (4) an endogamous caste with a particular hierarchical status, customs of diet, prohibitions on food exchange with other castes, and often a traditional occupation. Descent is patrilineal.
Kinship Terminology. Dravidian kinship terms are used; the terminology emphasizes relative age. For example, terms differ according to the ages of the speaker and the person spoken of; there are separate terms for "older brother" and "younger brother." The terminology also divides relatives into marriageable and unmarriageable categories. On the one hand, one calls one's parallel cousins "brothers" and "sisters." They are not considered to be potential spouses. On the other hand, one's cross cousins are designated by terms implying that they are potential affines.