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As was inevitable, the system has broken up in most places under the mounting modern pressures of various types.There are very few exceptions of joint families now, and even these may not last long.Living together under the same roof with grandparents, their sons and grandsons, with their wives and children, is indeed a unique experience, especially in Indian villages.
Joint families, like the autonomous village community and the caste system, were distinctive features of the Indian social structure for centuries.
Since all the members were joint sharers in the common property of the family, inheritance was by survivorship and the principle of primogeniture, the eldest son succeeding to the property of his father on the latter’s demise. In fact, they were all too preoccupied with domestic duties and chores to think of rights and privileges.
The parental hold on the children was remarkable; defiance of elders was unthinkable.
There was total and genuine respect for all elders, and firm discipline was maintained.
The word “family” comes from the Latin word “familia”, which means household.
This was truly applicable to a joint family in India.
As compared to the busy, crowded joint family establishment in sprawling though old-fashioned, badly ventilated and congested ancestral mansions, the small, separate homes of couples choosing to live away from their parents often look like “empty shells” when both husband and wife are away to work.
Under the traditional joint family system, women were never allowed to take up employment elsewhere, though many of them worked on the families jointly owned farm, small or big.
The caste system further imposed social restrictions.
Every member, male or female, was bound by the customs, traditions and culture to which the elders were habituated.