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Nayar of India - Research Paper Example

The word Nayar is believed to have originated from the Sanskrit word ‘Nayak’, meaning a powerful and esteemed leader (Fawcett, 1990). Historians hold that Nayars were initially tribal in their social organization. However, after converting to Hinduism, they adopted the Hindu caste based system of social organization. Social Organization In a traditional context, one prominent feature of the social organization of Nayars was the practice of Marumakkathayam, which meant a matrilineal system (Renjini, 2002). As per this system, the fundamental tracing of descent, inheritance and succession was dependant on the female line (Renjini, 2002). According to the Marumakkathayam laws and norms, a Taravad or a matrilineal kin group was considered to be the primary unit of social organization in the Nayar society (Renjini, 2002). This cooperative group comprised of all the matrilineal descendants of a common matriarch. The family property was held jointly by the entire group and was administered and managed by the senior most male member in the group. In case a Taravad got large and too unwieldy, it was split into easy to manage smaller units called Tavazhis. This resulted in an equal division of the group property, while keeping the group relationships intact. The other salient aspects of the Nayar social organization was the prevalence of the social institutions of Talikettualyanam and Sambandam, the two traditional forms of marital relationships recognized by the Nayar society (Renjini, 2002). Talikettualyanam

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was a ceremonial marital right that was to be performed for every Nayar girl before attaining the age of puberty (Renjini, 2002). This marital right was considered sacrosanct and not performing it amounted to inviting religious impurity, which could socially translate into ostracism of the involved girl and of the Taravad to which she belonged. The marital rite called Sambandam was celebrated by every Nayar women after she reached the age of puberty (Renjini, 2002). Sambandam ritual allowed a Nayar woman to have multiple marital partners. Same way the Nayar men were also allowed to have multiple female marital partners. Such relationships were not held rigid and could easily be dissolved. Children born of such wedlock were taken care of by the mother and her Taravad. Social Change The traditional Nayar social organization revolving around the recognized and validated practices of collective ownership of property, polyandry and matrilineal descent have undergone noticeable changes in the recent times (Kathleen, 1990). This social change could mainly be attributed to the disbanding of the Nayar martial groups around the British times and the shifting of the Nayar men to other professions like farming, bookkeeping and administration. The Nayar men who were earlier constantly on the move because of being soldiers, when employed in relatively sedentary professions felt the need for getting into more permanent, dependable and lasting relationship with women (Kathleen, 1990). Hence Polyandry soon gave way to monogamy in the contemporary Nayar society and the institutions of Talikettualyanam and Sambandam lost their relevance. Besides the Nayar men were influenced by the practices of other affluent communities in Kerala, whose


Nayar of India Name of the Student Subject Name of the Concerned Professor July 30, 2011 Nayar of India Introduction Nayar is the name of many upper caste Hindus hailing from the South Indian state of Kerala. Traditionally speaking, Nayars are considered to be a martial race, which later splinted into many sub castes affiliated to varied professions involving one form or other of supervisory responsibilities like soldiers, landlords, bookkeepers, revenue collectors, community leaders, etc (Fawcett, 1990)…
Nayar of India
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