In Hindu tradition, a boy and a girl from the same gotra (ancestral lineage) cannot marry since such a connection is considered incestuous. However, they can marry if they come from different gotras.
This rule exists to prevent caste discrimination against people who belong to the same genealogical line. It also encourages marriage within the gotra because people who are not related by blood but rather by history may have more in common than you would expect: they share the same ancestral sins and attainments. Attaining great feats or receiving sacred gifts makes no difference to your gotra status; it is determined only by your parents' gotra.
For example, if the boy's father is a Kshatriya and the girl's mother is a Vaisya woman, they are both out of their gotra and so cannot marry. But if the boy's father is a Vaishya man and the girl's mother is a Shudra woman, they are still from the same gotra even though they are not related by blood.
In modern-day India, this rule is often ignored by gotra-based communities when searching for spouses within their own caste.
In Hindu tradition, a boy and a girl from the same gotra (ancestral lineage) cannot marry since such a connection is considered incestuous.
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Marriage within the same gotra is forbidden in virtually all Hindu families because persons with the same gotra are considered siblings. However, many people from different gotras seek marriage with each other to avoid discrimination in employment and other issues.
Gotras are the original surname groups into which most Hindus were divided by their ancestors before they entered India. Gotras are often described as "clans" or "families". Today, gotras are usually defined by physical characteristics, such as the color of one's eyes or hair. However, the definition of a gotra can also include individuals who are not physically distinct from others in the group. For example, all the children of a single father will be regarded as belonging to the same gotra even if they don't share any other characteristic beyond being sons of the same father.
In India, it is common for brothers and sisters to marry within the same gotra because they believe it would bring them bad luck to marry someone from a different clan. Although gotras are based on physical traits, individuals sometimes are excluded from getting married into another gotra if there is no available partner within the original gotra.
In the Gotra system, there is one key rule: a boy and a girl from the same Gotra cannot marry, even if they are not siblings and come from different households. This is because they will be able to prove that their mothers are sisters, which would make them half-siblings. Such marriages are considered incestuous and are therefore prohibited by Hindu law.
It is very unlikely that you would meet any girls with the same gotra as your own mother. According to Hindu mythology, all humans have multiple births - some having two parents, others having ten or more. Thus, it is highly unlikely that two people would share the same gotra. However, since blood relationships are important in Hindu culture, it's best to avoid marrying someone with whom you aren't related.
The fundamental reason for marriage being outlawed in the same gotra in Vedic and Hindu culture is that because they are from the same gotra, they would be termed male and female siblings because their first ancestor is the same. The key reason for its being the same gotra is also the chromosomal similarity. Their genes would be passed on to their children who would also be similar genetically, causing many genetic disorders if they married people without knowing this fact.
In modern-day India, there are many castes where this tradition still exists. They include the Brahmin, Chandal, Jat, Maratha, Mala, Madiga, Mahar, Mali, Moopaner, Paraiyan, Sariya, Shudra.
A chandal may not eat food prepared by someone else or use items that have been used by anyone else. He will be punished by death if he does so. A jat may not eat food prepared by a brahmana or use articles that have been used by one.
These are just some of the many traditions that exist in Indian society. Many more could be mentioned. Most of them relate to what caste an individual belongs to rather than which tribe they belong to. For example, an untouchable person cannot even touch money owned by others because it would defile them.
Marriage within the same gotra is not encouraged or practiced in virtually all Hindu households since they are thought to be derived from the same lineage. Marriages between people of opposing gotras are so promoted. Marriage inside the jaati, on the other hand, is permitted and even recommended. It is believed that those who are married to members of their own family will experience happiness and prosperity.
People usually choose spouses from families with similar gotras because this is considered important for achieving success in life. If you look around yourself, you would see that most of the people we know have married within their own caste. Even in cases where it isn't mandatory, most parents prefer this because it helps keep the family line pure and undiluted. Marriage within the same jati also ensures that there are no issues such as jealousy which may arise between the spouses if they were to marry people from different jatis.
People who belong to the same gotra are said to share 18 common ancestors. This is why marriages within the same gotra are popular among Hindus.
In some cases, if one partner is very poor or has no family at all, then a marriage within the same gotra might be suggested by the parents of the prospective bride or groom. This way the partner can be matched up with someone who shares his/her background and culture.
Weddings between members of the same gotra are also known as intra-clan marriages (not to be confused with intra-caste marriages). All persons who are patrilineally (from father to son) descended from a common male ancestor are said to belong to the same gotra. In modern-day India, the gotras are often the most important factor in determining marital alliances.
In ancient Indian society, the gotras were the basic social units below the caste system. They included lists of people who had married into the tribe and their descendants down through the male line. Each new leader was chosen from among his relatives by lot. The leader's choice determined his or her own gotra as well as those of his or her relatives.
People within a gotra often marry outside the gotra to avoid marrying into a bad lineage. This is called "outsider marriage." For example, if Mr. Sharma belongs to a very good gotra but Mrs. Sharma comes from a not so good one, they would want to avoid marrying each other. So, she might look around outside of her own gotra for someone better suited for her. In this case, Mr. Sharma would seek a bride within his own gotra first and then perhaps outside it if he could not find anyone suitable within his own community.
Today, gotras still play an important role in some parts of India.