By Swami Harshananda
Sometimes transliterated as: Nambidiri, NambIdiri, Nambidiri
Nambīdiri is the name of a dominant caste in the Kerala State. The nambudiris are orthodox brāhmaṇas, well-versed in the Vedic and the tāntrik lore. They were the chief land owners before independence. They followed a distinctive marriage alliance called ‘sambandham’ with the nāyars who are kṣattriyas and have adopted the matri-lineal descent system.
The eldest son of a nambīdiri married a nambudiri girl whereas the younger sons had a loose type of marriage called as ‘sambandham’ for the sake of progeny, with nāyar girls. However, neither party to a sambandham union becomes a member of the other’s family. Consequently there is no legal responsibility or obligation on the part of the ‘husband’ towards the ‘wife’ or the children. The children belong to the ‘tarwad’ descended from a common ancestress. There are four sub-castes among the nambudiris, the ‘nambīdiripād’ being considered the highest.
- Tarwad means joint family.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore