NAYAR, or Nair, a caste or tribe on the W. coast of S. India, who form the dominant race in Malabar. Traditionally they are soldiers, but many have taken to professions, and one was in 1910 a judge of the high court at Madras. Their total number in all India in 1901 was just over one million. Their most peculiar customs are: (I) marumakkattayam=" descent through sister's children," or inheritance in the female line; and sambandham, a loose form of union, taking the place of marriage, without any responsibility of the husband towards either wife or children. In 1896 an act of the Madras legislature enabled a sambandham to be registered, and have the force of a legal marriage. Little advantage has been taken of this act, while it is alleged that the sambandham now usually lasts for a lifetime.
See Malabar District Gazetteer (Madras, 1908).
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