Companionate marriage in India: the changing marriage system in a middle-class Brahman subcaste


  The Eighteen-Village Vattimas are a Tamil Brahman subcaste. They were formerly rural landlords, but today they mostly belong to the urban middle class. In recent decades, the Vattimas’ marriage system has changed markedly. Child marriage has ended and the age of marriage has since risen further. Close-kin marriage is no longer preferred, although subcaste endogamy remains the norm. Nevertheless, the education and employment of individuals, and their personal compatibility, have now become crucial criteria, and young men and women are involved in arranging their own marriages. Among the Vattimas (like other Indians), a form of arranged, endogamous companionate marriage has now developed, which plays a fundamental role in reproducing both caste and the middle class in contemporary India.


C.J. Fuller & Haripriya Narasimhan



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London School of Economics and Political Science

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