Tuesday, July 23, 2019
Kerala

People, Customs, Ceremonies & Rituals


Customs
▪Customs ▪Brahmins ▪Tribes ▪Marriage Customs ▪Ritual Marriage ▪Puberty Rites ▪Death Rituals

Marriage

The marriage ceremony among Nayars was a very simple affair. It was not associated with elaborate procedures prayers and sermons. The function consisted of the bridegroom giving a putava to the bride. The marriages lasted only as long as they were desired by the partners and could be revoked without any legal or religious endorsement. Nayar women were not prevented from having remarriages.

A strange system

in practice was that of Nambootiri men marrying Nayar women. The marriage relation that existed between the Nayar and Nambootiri communities served the property interests of both, quite effectively. Nayars considered it a mark of aristocracy to give their daughter and sisters in marriage to Nambootiris. All the Nambootiri men did not marry Nayar women. The eldest son in the Nambootiri family had perforce to marry from within the community. The younger sons took to marriage with Nayar women. The former was the proper sanctified marriage (veli), the latter was only ad hoc marriage (sambandham). The Nambootiri  husband had no legal obligation to the children born to him  of the Nayar women, the children inherited only their mother's wealth. Nambootiri men both eldest son in the family entering into Veli and the younger sons entering into Sambandham practiced polygamy quite wantonly. The younger sons were free to marry from the outside caste. Most nambootiri girls had either to enter into 'Veli' with the eldest sons of the other families who would have been already married many times or remain spinsters for life. 'Veli' took place between men in their sixties and girls in their teens. Widowhood was quite common among Nambootiri women. Nambootiri women were permitted to marry only once.

 The marriage of the Nambootiri does not involve the tying of the bridal thread or giving of the dhoti. Kanyadanam (giving away of the bride), Panigrahana (holding the hands) and Sapta padi ( taking seven steps jointly by the bride and bride groom  around the fire ) form the rituals of their marriage.

Pregnancy rites

The fourth important occasion in a girl's life was pregnancy. Once her pregnancy was confirmed, elaborate rituals are followed. Pulikuti Kalyanam was a rite conducted during the advanced stage of pregnancy.

Cousin marriage 

Among all Hindu communities except the Nambootiris, cousin marriage was popular. A boy had a rightful claim to marry the daughter of his maternal uncle or paternal aunt. Among some Hindus one could marry one's sisters daughter such as Reddiar's and Tamil Brahmins. Among Muslims in Kerala cousin marriages were not taboo. But the Christians would not marry among immediate blood relations, not from the cousins on either side, maternal or paternal.

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