Nair in Sri Lanka

Nair
Photo Source:  Thachan Makan  Creative Commons  Used with permission
Map Source:  Joshua Project / Global Mapping International
People Name: Nair
Country: Sri Lanka
10/40 Window: Yes
Population: 4,000
World Population: 6,702,000
Primary Language: Tamil
Primary Religion: Hinduism
Christian Adherents: 0.51 %
Evangelicals: 0.00 %
Scripture: Complete Bible
Online Audio NT: No
Jesus Film: Yes
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: South Asia Forward Caste - Nair
Affinity Bloc: South Asian Peoples
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

The Nairs were once 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 were Kshatriyas (Hinduism’s second highest caste) belonging to the Serpent Dynasty (Nagavansham) who removed their sacred thread and migrated south to escape the wrath of a vengeful Parashurama, an avatar of the prominent Hindu god Vishnu. 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, a state in southern India. 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, and their cry for equality and privileges - all these factors brought about a decline of Nair dominance.

Where Are they Located?

The Nair people are most prominent in the southern Indian state of Kerala, but a small number live in Sri Lanka.

What Are Their Lives Like?

They have retained status as part of Hinduism’s high Kshatrya caste. Today members of the Nair caste don’t all follow one profession or business. They represent such diverse occupations as traders, artisans, oil-mongers, barbers, and washer men. But many still carry arms with them at all times.

What Are Their Beliefs?

Traditionally their form of Hinduism included the worship of snakes. They are all Hindus whose main object of worship is Vishnu but who also wear the mark of the god Shiva on their foreheads.

What Are Their Needs?

A hunger for high status coupled with devotion to a religious system rather than to a Savior can potentially keep these Hindus away from Jesus Christ.

Prayer Points

* Pray for workers to go to the Nair people in Sri Lanka, and for their hearts to be ready to receive their savior.
* Pray for networks of believing Nair families and fellowships that will throw the doors open for others to follow Jesus.
* Pray for the Lord to bless the families among the Nair people with his presence and mercy.
* Pray for Bible believing fellowships and churches among the Nair people.

Text Source:   Keith Carey