Newar marriage and kinship in Kathmandu, Nepal
This thesis presents a descriptive and analytical study of Newar marriage and kinship in Kathmandu. Essentially, this is a study about caste and the role that it plays in Newar life, in particular, the way that caste is expressed through marriage patterns and kinship rituals. This study also shows that although the link between one's caste and one's traditional caste occupation is breaking down, one's caste identity is still maintained through one's choice of marriage partner and one's participation in kinship rituals which occur at the various levels of caste organization. Newar caste organizations are also undergoing a process of transformation. In addition to the traditional caste organizations, there are also new intercaste organizations which cater to the ritual needs of those in intercaste marriages. This recent phenomenon coincides with the professionalization of other caste organizations, which, in addition to performing their ritual duties, have also taken on the role of social and economic guardians to their caste members. It could be argued that although some forms of caste are no longer applicable, in other ways, caste in Newar society has never been stronger or more important. Despite the claim that intercaste marriages are on the rise, the data shows that the majority of Newars still practice caste endogamy. Membership into a caste organization - which is through the initiation ritual - is so important to Newar identity that intercaste couples have started their own caste organization to ensure that their offspring will officially be a part of a caste group. In sum, this study shows that despite the fact that caste is no longer recognized in the Nepalese constitution, caste is still the main vector of Newar identity, and this is seen most clearly through the analysis of Newar marriage and kinship.