People in Orissa, whether rural or urban, live in families. Those who have to stay away from family at their places of work in towns or industrial areas usually come to spend their holidays in their village homes. The joint family system is largely in vogue in villages, but is breaking up gradually. People living in their places of work often live with nuclear families, but do not like to break their ties with the joint family if they happen to be members of the same.
Marriage is usually monogamous among all the sects. Even among the Muslims and the tribals where polygamy is not forbidden, instances of polygamous marriage are very few. When a young man or woman is marriageable, it is usually the duty of the parents to arrange for the marriage although love marriages are not rare. Arranged marriages take place within the same caste, barring the sagotra (the same ancestral line), after negotiations between the two sides as to the date, modalities, and pre-marriage conditions, if any, along with a ritual like engagement or commitment (nirbandha). Tile Hindu marriage is performed as sacramental gift of the bride by her father or his deputy to the groom, which is solemnized by the priest with chanting of Vedic hymns (mantras) in the presence of sacred fire. Among the scheduled tribes there are different forms of marriage, namely marriage with the consent of the bride's father on payment of bride-money or on rendering unpaid service, marriage on capturing the bride often with the consent of tile girl and marriage elopement The Muslims and the Christians follow their own traditional customs. Except among the tribals the dowry system is prevent in all communities; it is on tile increase in spite of legislation. Inter-caste marriages are taking place in recent times, but are limited in number.
All the people of Orissa are traditionally patrilineal, the male descendants inheriting their parents' property. Although legally the daughters have a share to it, in usual circumstances the claims are not enforced by them in view of the common cordial relationship continuing between the brothers and sisters. The Hindus originally belonging to Orissa are governed by the Mitakshara school of law, the Bengali Hindus by the Dayabhaga school and the Muslims by the Hanifi school of Mahomedan law.
Certain moral codes are commonly accepted in the Orissan society in respect of social conduct. Drinking is considered a vice and as such shameful in the households or villages. For the tribal people, however it is not a vice. They brew varieties of starchy beer out of rice or millet or mahua flowers, which they drink often and especially during the festivals. Smoking before one's superiors is considered bad manners. Sexual immorality is hated all over the state. Those moral aberrations, which do not come under law, are subject to contempt. Beef-is a taboo to the Hindus as pork to the Muslims. The Hindus consider the cow a sacred animal and if a cow dies at the hand of a person or in his house in the fettered condition, it is adjudged as a sin on his part and he has to atone for it.
The typical Oriya house in a village has mud walls and a gabled roof on a wood or bamboo frame thatched with straw. The rooms are contiguous with a verandah in the front opening out to an oblong or square yard known as danda and a backyard known as badi to serve as the kitchen garden. A comparatively prosperous house, of a middle class family, comprises alignment of rooms on the four sides (khanja) arranged round an inner courtyard known as agana with a separate cattle shed outside. The better constructed houses are furnished with mud ceilings built on bamboo or wooden frames to be used for storage of household articles as well as for the cooling effect in Summer. Village life has an impressive charm about it. A spectacle in rural Orissa with the farmer driving his pair of bullocks along the palm-fringed roads or through the fields in the lovely setting of the countryside leaves an indelible impression on the mind.