Professor Bob Larkin
April 29, 2013
The Nayar of India
The Nayar people of India are indigenous people that live in the southwest part of India. Their culture is known to be complex yet fascinating. Generally they were known to be rulers, warriors, and landowners that rarely worked the land but supervised it. They later gradually lost their political power as they abandoned the role of being warriors. The Nayar people are primarily maintained thru agriculture and the social and economic status of the families show little difference between the poor and the wealthy. For generations the Nayar culture’s traditions, beliefs, as well as their customs have been a huge debate among the scholars and authorities. This paper will explore the fascination of the economic organization, beliefs and values, and their kinship farther in the following paragraphs. Economic Organization
The means of the Nayar people of India comes from their family farms. Their main sources of food come from cultivation of coconuts and rice. The families use servants to farm their land and rarely farm themselves. The families in the past grow all they need in order to supply their own family and the servants that farm for them. Pork, and fish along with the rice and coconuts are what the Nayar people use for nutrition, and they cook it differently for each meal (Panikakar 1918). Today they add bread and many other wheat products to their diet. The economy is basically stable and there is not much to distinguish between the poor and the wealthy within the Nayar society. It is not uncommon for a Nayar family and the land units to share personal income as well as assets (Panikaker 1918). The individuals that have received an education and have sought out employment outside of agriculture may even bring their earnings home to the family to share. Due to the family sharing the finances the Nayar society is not surpassing through what is considered average for their region (Panikakar 1918)
Traditionally, the Nayars are matrilineal, where the unit consists of males and females that all descend from one common female. This creates one large compound (Nayar-History and Cultural Relations 2013). This has since changed due to the influence of the British. The changes that have taken place are that some Nayar people lean towards the natural patriarchal percentage and monogamy instead of parentage and matrimony. For the most part the matrilineal heritage is still recognized and practiced, however, some of the Nayar compounds are beginning to practice bi-lineal heritage. With the way the trends are changing that are some scholars that say that it is only a matter of time before the Nayar people become patriarchal and patrilineal. There are many of the other cultures in India and others from around the world that has already taken these practices on. Beliefs and Values
The Nayar are generally Hindus and frequently attend Hindu temples. There are however, Nayars in Kerala that are Christians of various denominations as well as Muslims. Yet, a lot of Nayar people revolve around magic and superstition (Panikakar, 1918).
Traditionally the Hindus most important ceremonies celebrated are the Vishu, Onam, and the Thiruvathira. During these three ceremonies the husbands are expected to bring their wife new clothes. During mid-April the Tamil New Year and the Vishu ceremony takes place. Not only is this a time for the women to wear new clothes but it is also the beginning of summer. It is believed that the first things that are seen that morning will influence their lives. In August and September the Nayar people have a harvest festival. This is also the Malayali New Year. There are many different ritual ceremonies that take place at this time and it is a time for the women to wear new clothes brought to them by their husband. The Thirurathira happens in...