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Nairs are one of the major castes in Kerala, known for their military skills and prowess. In the past, their duty was to protect the land from foreign invasion and internal conflict. Nairs always maintained a close relationship with Namboothiris.

The main subdivisions of the Nairs are Velakkittala (barbers), Veluttetattu (washermen), Chakkala (oil mongers), Marars (temple dependants) and Kiriyams.

‘Tharavadu’ was a remarkable feature of the Nair culture. In this joint family system, the karanavar (eldest male in the family) looked after the family. Nairs follow the marumakkathayam (matrilineal) system. The cross-cousin marriage existed in this community ensured that the wealth of the family remained intact and would not be distributed outside the group.

In the past, the younger sons of the Namboothiri family were permitted to wed aristocratic Nair women. It was thought to be a prestige by the whole family and the community as such.

Updated on 7th June, 2005

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