Caste and the Ritual Sphere.
Traditionally, caste hierarchy has been ritual hierarchy in terms of one’s status on the basis of degree of purity or impurity. The secular or material attributes or determinants of status ranking were secondary in nature. However, certain processes of change, which began dating the British rule, but acquired momentum after independence have promoted changes in the system of ranking of castes. Urbanization. gave a serious blow to the ritual dimension of caste.
With the manifold increase in secularization of inter-caste and interpersonal relations, the ritual and social distance between castes narrowed down. People’s concern for improving the quality of life promotes higher levels of consumption. It facilitated the earlier entry of secular indicators of property and socio-economic superiority in the caste system. The increased economic development especially the growth of capitalist mode of agriculture and industrialization promoted occupational opportunities which were considered ritually neutral. Entry into these new occupations were based on technical skills imparted through modem education.
New determinants of status pushed the ritual determinants to the background. In the sphere of inter-caste and interpersonal relations persons belonging to different castes with different ritual statuses came together in modern occupational settings and indulged in closer interpersonal relationship giving big jolt to the ritual aspect of caste.