Nambudiri Brahman - Kinship



The Nambudiri Brahmans were patrilineal and practiced primogeniture. They were divided into various status groups, the most significant one being the division between the Adhyans and the Asyans. The Adhyans (recognized by the suffix -pad at the end of their names) were the wealthiest and most powerful. There was a tendency for the eight most powerful of the Adhyans to be endogamous. The highest-ranking Asyans were the ones who had the right to recite the Vedas.

Kinship terminology follows a modification of the Dravidian pattern. There is a striking absence of terms to refer to affines not actually living in one's illam, indicating that affinity was not a critical principle of the system. Once a girl was married she was totally amalgamated into her husband's Family and used the same terms that he used. The only affines even given a term are the mother's brother and mother's brother's wife. The other significant difference from the rest of south India is the absence of a distinction between cross and parallel cousins. Among Nambudiris both are considered to be similar to one's own brothers and sisters and both are forbidden as marriage partners.


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