(For general details on the area see the article on Nayars .) Traditionally, the vast majority of the Nambudiris derived their subsistence from the income of their medium to large landed holdings. They were not expected to participate in the life-crisis ceremonies of castes lower than themselves, apart from the coronations in a few of the ruling houses. They all had at least a few servants in their homes. Some Nambudiris, slightly lower in rank, performed rituals at well-known Temples (though many of these also had rituals performed by Embrandiri Brahmans from South Kanara District of Karnataka State and by Pattar Brahmans from Tamil Nadu).
Traditionally, the Nambudiri Brahmans lived off the income from their lands, although a few also worked in large temples. They spent considerable amounts of time learning and reciting Sanskrit slokas and many of them were famous scholars and teachers of the Vedas. They also participated in sacrifices.
Under the traditional land tenure system, the Nambudiri Brahmans held land primarily as the rulers or as a direct grant from a ruler. They did not deal with that land directly, preferring to leave agricultural management to tenants and subtenants. Their land was held as an impartible inheritance by the eldest son, though younger sons and unmarried daughters were eligible to be supported by the income from the property. The land tenure laws passed in the 1920s and 1930s made the Nambudiri property partible. The major land reform law measures passed in the early 1970s plus a series of Supreme court decisions that provided for permanency of tenure for their tenants and gave ownership rights to the lowest rung of tenants have had the effect of causing many of the Nambudiri Brahman households to be severely impoverished.