Essay The Nayar of India

817 Words Oct 10th, 2011 4 Pages
The Nayar of India (Kinship, Beliefs, and Values)
Richard Cantu
Introduction to Cultural Anthropology: 101
Instructor: June Maul
August 9, 2011

The Nayar of India are ethnographic and folk-culture society. They are a complex and interesting large and power cast society that live in extended matrilineal family groups. Hinduism is the main religion of these people and that combined with their social and economic structure make for an interesting combination of kinship, gender relations, beliefs, and values. In this paper I will discuss the fascinating aspects of this culture focusing on their kinship, gender relations, and their beliefs and values.

Perhaps the best known of India's unusual family types is the traditional Nayar
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Nayar women would frequently have multiple sexual partners. Matrilineal societies do not value virginity and chastity of women in a manner comparable to matrilineal societies. Biological fathers were not significant in this kin system. In fact it was most common for the husband or husbands to live with their mother and sisters, while the wife continued to live with her brother, mother, and children. This type of social structure does give a certain amount of sexual freedom to women unheard of in strictly patrilineal societies. The practice which allows Nayar women to enjoy relations with several visiting husbands could be considered by patrilineal societies similar to prostitution. In some cases maybe even worse. Still, these gender relations are part of the Nayar’s beliefs and values, which are not limited to relationships between men and women.

There were two separate rituals - the pre-pubertal thalikettu kalyanam (marriage) and later the sambandham the practice of marriage alliance, that are special to this culture. These rituals and ceremonies were all part of a girl becoming a woman in the eyes of her family and society. And, as I mentioned earlier women were considered very important and powerful members of the family. In this social group their religion was Hindu and the practices, rites, meditations, and rituals were taught and passed down to the children first through their mothers then through ashrams and schools. As mentioned, biological

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