The characteristics of a joint family which may be derived from the foregoing definitions are discussed below.
1. Common residence:
Characteristic feature of the joint family. It implies that all the members live together one roof. The traditional Indian joint family consisted of several family units. But although units lived together in a single house. However, when the accommodation was felt inadequate they were compelled to live separately in the close vicinity.
2. Common Property:
Another significant feature of the joint family is that the members hold property, both movable and immovable, in common. The head of the household also maintains a common fund, which pulls together the earnings of all the members. In wealth of the family is both produced and consumed collectively and the head that is known as the ‘karat’ acts as trustee of the common property. He looks after the material well-being of all the members his family. Although the members of the joint family earn according to their capacity, the consumption is not delimited to their earnings. Rather they consume in accordance with the necessity.
3. Joint Kitchen:
The presence of a joint family is also felt due to the existence of a common kitchen the spouse of the head of the family or an aged woman of the family acts as the supervisor of the other female members working in the kitchen. While the women of the family an engaged at the hearth, the males are engaged in field work outside home. Generally, the children and male members of the joint family are, first of all, served food by the women an thereafter they themselves take food. So long as a joint kitchen is maintained the joint family remains integrated. But when separate cooking begins, the beginning of disintegration of joint family starts.
4. Common Religious Worship:
The members of a joint family believe in common gods and goddesses. Their common gods and goddesses are known as their ‘Kula Devatas’. Religion is so much integrated with the Hindu social life that several religious ceremonies and rituals are performed in a collects manner. The younger generation learns the religious practices from the older generation.
5. Kindred Relationship:
The members of the joint family are bound together through blood relationship. Parents and children, brothers and sisters, grandparents and grand children are all tied by kinship bonds and are accommodated under the same roof.
6. Consciousness of mutual rights and obligations:
All the members of the joint family, except the head or ‘Karta’, have equal rights and obligations. The members are always conscious of these rights and obligations. This consciousness maintains the joint family as a closely-knit unit. However, the head of the joint family appears more equal than other members in regard to the rights and obligations.
7. Rule of the Head:
The eldest married male member of the family, known as the ‘Karta’ is the head of a joint family. The ‘Karta’ possesses absolute authority over all the members of the family. His decision is also binding on all the family matters.
8. There Generation Depth:
The joint family comprises of persons belonging to at least three generations. Many a time, it may be supplemented by other relatives like cousins, great grandsons, uncles, aunts, etc.