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Endogamy is the practice of marrying within a specific ethnic group, class, or social group, rejecting others on such a basis as being unsuitable for marriage or for other close personal relationships.

Endogamy is common in many cultures and ethnic groups. Several ethnic religious groups are traditionally more endogamous, although sometimes with the added dimension of requiring marital religious conversion. This permits an exogamous marriage, as the convert, by accepting the partner's religion, becomes accepted within the endogamous rules. Certain groups, such as Orthodox Jews, have practised endogamy as an inherent part of their religious beliefs and traditions.


Endogamy can serve as a form of self-segregation; it helps a community to resist integrating and completely merging with surrounding populations. It helps minorities to survive over a long time as distinct communities within societies with other practices and beliefs.

The formation of the caste system in India is described in a shloka (verse) of the Purusha Sukta, a Vedic hymn, as follows:

ब्रा॒ह्म॒णॊ॓‌உस्य॒ मुख॑मासीत् । बा॒हू रा॑ज॒न्यः॑ कृ॒तः ।
ऊ॒रू तद॑स्य॒ यद्वैश्यः॑ । प॒द्भ्याग्ं शू॒द्रॊ अ॑जायतः ॥
brāhmaṇosya mukhamāsīt | bāhū rājanyaḥ kṛtaḥ |
ūrū tadasya yadvaiśyaḥ | padbhyā śūdro ajāyata ||
The Brahmins came from His mouth; and from His arms came the kings.
The merchants sprang forth from His thighs; and from His feet, the laborers were born.[1][2]

Population genetics[edit]

Further information: Population genetics and inbreeding

The isolationist practices of endogamy may lead to a group's extinction rather than its survival, as genetic diseases may develop that can affect a larger percentage of the population. However, this disease effect would tend to be small unless there is a high degree of close inbreeding, or if the endogamous population becomes very small in size.

Social dynamics[edit]

The Urapmin—a small tribe in Papua New Guinea—practice strict endogamy. The Urapmin also have a system of kinship classes known as tanum miit. Since the classes are inherited cognatically, most Urapmin belong to all of the major classes, creating great fluidity and doing little to differentiate individuals.[3]

See also[edit]

Cousin marriage:

Marriage systems:


  1. ^ Tatachar, Sri Kotikanyadanam Sreekrishna. "Purusha suktam: Simple English meaning (word by word) | us/1-The%20Demography%20of%20Islam%20in%20Europe.pdf". 
  2. ^ "Simple meaning for purusha suktam". srivaishnavam.com. Retrieved 2014-08-08. 
  3. ^ Robbins, Joel (2004). Becoming Sinners: Christianity and Moral Torment in a Papua New Guinea Society. University of California Press. pp. 191–192. ISBN 0-520-23800-1. 

External links[edit]