Namboothiris (also spelt Nambootiris and Nambudris), the Brahmins of Kerala
, were once a dominating caste in Kerala. They study and practice the Vedas
and perform the holy rituals a brahmin is expected to do. They are also proficient in the Sanskrit language. A woman of the Namboothiri community is called ‘antharjanam’.
There was a curious social practice known as 'sambandham' among the Namboothiris in old times. Under this system, the younger sons of a Namboothiri family were permitted to have relations with aristocratic Nair women. Nairs who served as warriors in early times, had always maintained a close relationship with Namboothiris.
Sanghakkali is a popular socio-religious dance form developed by the Namboothiris. The art form reflects the natural humour of the Namboothiris.
The word Namboothiri is derived from the words ‘nambu’ meaning 'sacred' or 'trustworthy', and ‘diri’ meaning 'light'. They are addressed as 'thirumenis,' a title of honour.