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Nair or Nayar is the name of an upper Hindu caste in the Southern Indian state of Kerala. Nairs are an integral part of Kerala's culture and have a long and illustrious history. Nairs are a warrior class (martial nobility). In this regard, they are similar to the samurai of Japan. The word Nair is either derived from the Sanskrit word Nayaka (Leader) or Naga (Snakes, which the Nairs worshipped). The Nair class name also encompasses Menon, Panicker, Kurup, Pillai, Unni, Unnithan, Kartha, Thampan, Kaimal, Nayanar, Thampi, Nambiar, Mannadiar. They are all same and is not classified in between because all enjoy the same social status. For example, a person with the name XXX Kurup will not say that he belongs to Kurup Caste. Instead he will say he is a Nair.


According to Chattambi Swamigal, who interpreted ancient Tamil texts, Nairs were a Dravidian nobility called the "Naka Lords". Ancient South Indian history refers to the Nairs as a martial nobility, eminent historians, and foreign travelers.

One theory is that Nairs are the descendants of the Newars of Nepal, who migrated to Kerala. There are two major facts to support this view. The first is the lighter complexion, and sharper features of Nairs. The second is the distinct pagoda-like architectural style of Nair Tharavaadus and Temples. Finally, there is the Marumakkathayam system of inheritance. This system is a matrilineal system which is also practiced by the Newars of Nepal. One finds mention of the Nairs during the reign of the King Rama Varma Kulashekhara (1020-1102) of second Chera dynasty, when the Chera Kingdom was attacked by the Cholas. The Nairs fought against the invading force.

The surname Nair is also seen in other parts of the world - although no direct linkages with Nairs in Kerala has been established. Some one like Meera Nair may not be a nair or even a Keralate ( She is a Punjabi) but her name is ending with "Nair". So she is mentioned. Similarly NAIR PRODUCTS- They are not related to nair but since having name NAIR in them they are taken.

Some of Our Customs & Traditions

Nairs have customs that are different from the rest of Kerala. The first of these is the Marumakkathayam system of inheritance. This system is a matrilineal system of inheritance. It is exceptional in the sense that it was one of the few traditional systems that gave women liberty, and right to property. Under this system, women enjoyed respect, prestige and power. An exception is the community of Mannadiars of Palakkad, because they follow patrilineal system. Some historians believe that the Marumakkathaayam system started after the Chera-Chola wars during the second Chera empire, as Nairs lost most of their men during the war.

In the Marumakkathayam system, the family lived together in a tharavaadu which comprised of a mother, her brothers and younger sisters, and her children. The oldest brother was known as the Karanavar and is the head of the household and managed the family estate. Lineage was traced through the mother, and the children "belonged" to the mother's family. All family property was jointly owned. In the event of a partition, the shares of the children were clubbed with that of the mother.

The Marumakkathayam system is not very common in Kerala these days for many reasons. Kerala society has become much more cosmopolitan and modern. Nair men seeks jobs away from their hometown and take their wives and children along with them. In this scenario, a joint-family system is not viable. However, there are still a few tharawads that pay homage to this system. In some Nair families, the children carry the last name of their mother instead of their father, and are considered part of the mother's family, and not the father's. Nairs connect to and trace their lineage to a tharavadu - not to a member of the family. Tharavadu names are quite an important element of social reckoning - though decreasing in importance these days.

The martial art known as Kalaripayattu is believed by some to be created by the Nairs, and is also thought to be the oldest form of martial arts in the world. Those who hold this point of view think that all other forms of martial arts are descended from it. They reason that this is because Kerala had intense contacts with Buddhist monks, and Kung Fu, popularized by monks of the Shaoling Temple, traces its ancestry to Bodhidharma - a semi-legendary Chinese Buddhist monk who in some versions of his legend, came from Kerala, but who in the earliest known written version was said to have come from Central Asia. Visit the following links for more information about Nair's

Nair Wiki Page
Demography of Nair Community in Kerala
Nair Caste
Nair History

Sri.Mannathu Padmanabhan

Sri. Mannathu Padmanabhan, the great leader and social reformer was born on January 2, 1878 in Perunna Village in Changanacherry, as the son of middle-class parents. Abject poverty misery and deprivation marked the early years of his life. After school education he became a teacher and then a pleader .Before long he found himself drawn in to the vortex of political and social movements. The plight of the Nair Community that was witnessing it's own decadence and disintegration, precipitated by extravaganza, superstitious veneration for antiquated and anachronistic customs and tradition, filled him with anguish. He marshalled his oratorial skill and organizational ability to motivate, inspire and mobilize the Community that was lost in a long and deep slumber.

The Nair Service Society which he conceived, nursed and nurtured, epitomized the hopes and aspirations of the community which had been waiting for a saviour. Mannam's personal life was inextricably intertwined with the history of the N.S.S.He travelled extensively through the state, met the people ,organizedthem and won their love and regard with the help of his disarming simplicity, single-minded devotion, will and determination. Impregnable fortress of superstition and formidable citadel of resistance crumbled before his all-conquering and awe-inspiring personality. Gradually he built an empire out of nothing .The prestigious institutions founded by him would perpetuate his memory.

. Captivated by Mahatma Gandhi and his principles of Satyagraha. Mannam led a Satyagraha march called "Savarnajatha" for the sake of the untouchables .It ultimately led to the "Temple Entry Proclamation" .The dynamic roles he played in the "Vaikom Satyagraham" and in the independence struggle and his subsequent imprisonment and his initiatives aimed at communal harmony, peace and social changes turned him into a legend in his life time .The major milestones in the history of the N.S.S intersect the social, political and cultural history of Kerala.

Mannam passed away at the age of 93 on February 25, 1970. The story of his life is the stuff, fairy tales are made of. The touch of his magic wand revived and resurrected the entire community. He taught them the philosophy of action, the value of unity and above all the need to change .His legacy is undiminished by passage of time. He lives through generations.

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