Profile Source: Ravivarman Thampi
Introduction / History
Nair is the name of an upper Hindu Caste from the southern Indian state of Kerala. The Nairs were a martial nobility, similar to the Samurai of Japan and figure prominently in the history of Kerala. Kalarippayattu (ancient martial art) is associated with the Nairs
Nairs are Nagas and were Kshatriyas belonging to the Serpent dynasty (Nagavansham) who removed their sacred thread and migrated south to escape the wrath of a vengeful Parashurama. The affinity of the Nair community towards serpent worship, their martial past, and the absence of the sacred thread lends support to this theory.
Throughout the medieval period and until well into the 19th century, the Nairs had a pre-eminent role in Kerala. By the middle of the 19th century, however, this dominance started waning. Institutions like the sambandham and the matrilineal joint family system which had ensured the strength of the Nair community earlier, now became productive of many evils in changing socio-political background of Kerala. The impact of the market economy, the disappearance of traditional military training, the absorption of new values through the new system of education, the self-consciousness being generated among the lower castes and their cry for equality and privileges - all these factors brought about a decline of Nair dominance.
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