Under Caste System society is divided into several small social groups called castes. Each of these castes is a well developed social group, the membership which is based on birth.
According to Prof. Ghurye, the following are the main characteristics of caste.
1) Segmental division of society:
Under Caste System society is divided into several small social groups called castes. Each of these castes is a well developed social group, the membership which is based on birth. Since membership is based on birth, mobility from one caste to another is impossible. Each caste has its own traditional social status, occupations, customs rules and regulations.
According to Prof Ghurye each of the linguistics areas, there are about 200 castes which can be graded and arranged into a hierarchy on the basis of their social precedence. At the top of this hierarchy is the touchable caste.
3) Restriction of commensurability and social intercourse:
Every caste imposes restrictions on its members with regard to food drink and social inter-course. The general rule is that the member of caste should accept ‘Kachcha food’ the food in the preparation of which waster is added only from either their own caste of caste ritually higher that their own. They are also required to observe certain restrictions while accepting water from members of other castes.
4) Differential civil and religious privileges and disabilities:
In a caste society, there is an un-equal distribution of privileges and disabilities among its members. While the higher caste people enjoy all the privilege, the lower caste people suffer from all kinds of disabilities.
5) Lack of unrestricted choice of occupation:
Choice of occupation is not free under Caste System. Each caste or a group of allied castes is traditionally associated with a particular occupation. Occupations are hereditary and the members of a caste are expected to follow their traditional occupation without fail.
6) Restriction of marriage:
Castes are divided into sub-castes and each sub-caste is an endogamous group. Endogamy, according to some thinkers is the essence of Caste System. Every caste or sub-caste insists that its members should marry within the group.