The Nayar Native Group of India


The Nayar of India comprises an Indian native group, living in the Kerala region. The group has an elaborate cultural and traditional practice. The Nayar also follows a matrilineal revolution. The culture of the Nayar’s enables them to practice polygyny. The Nayar people are involved in agriculture, which is their main source of subsistence. Furthermore, the Nayar people have no cases of inequalities in their economic and social standing.

Many people have had challenges, comprehending the differences between wealthy and poor Nayar families. It is notable that the culture of the Nayar people is dominant in the region. Remarkably, this has made their society unique.

The Nayar’s progresses, beliefs, and values are always the topic of considerable dialogue among anthropologists. This paper presents discussions about the Nayar of India. Their culture will form a crucial aspect of this discussion in order to comprehend their subsistence strategies. In addition, the paper seeks to elucidate the impact of their subsistence practices on social organization. The role that their subsistence practices have on the kinship structures and gender relationships also form a component of the discussion.

The Mode of Subsistence

The Nayar family homesteads normally have farms. The Nayar mainly engages in the cultivation of coconut and rice, which provides them subsistence mode. Agricultural activities are the main survival tactics employed by the Nayar, which consists of using land to generate various farm produces. The Nayar’s consistently transfer the knowledge of agricultural practices to the younger generations through imparting knowledge and availing farmlands (Haviland, Prins, McBride & Walrath, 2010). Indeed, the mothers avail the family land to their daughters, which they use for survival food production. The Nayar families also keep servants in order to escalate food production. The servants provide labor in the plantations and help with other household responsibilities.

Notably, the servants were originally slaves, but the abolition of the slave trade reduced the purchase of servants as slaves (Moore, 1995). Furthermore, prior to the eradication of the slave trade, laborers had been living in the Nayar’s households. The servants received other life opportunities as part of their service to the Nayar families. This ensured that most servants continued working in order to obtain more income, benefits, and cover their basic needs (Mazumdar & Sarkar, 2008).

Presently, the servants, providing labor in the Nayar farms, have remained the same sign. It is notable that their continued support to the Nayar’s households escalates food production. They hardly acquire foodstuff from the marketplace since their product is adequate to meet their needs on a regular basis. Nayar’s diet often comprises rice, coconut, pork, and fish. The restriction of their food variety makes the Nayar families cook the same foods in different ways during every meal (Moore, 1995).

The perception that Nayar families meet their survival needs, using similar approaches promotes equality in society. In addition, there are Nayar people who choose to pursue an education in urban centers. The tradition normally allows such youths to contribute towards subsistence through allocating them their lands (Mazumdar & Sarkar, 2008). The farms enabled them to increase food production in order to complement their employment. In addition, they sent their earnings back home to facilitate agricultural processes (Haviland et al., 2010). This approach promotes the maintenance of the gaps between the affluent and underprivileged.

The emergence of globalization has begun transforming diverse aspects of their lifestyles. The Nayar originally appreciated coconut and rice as their foremost diet. Vegetables obtained from the home gardens also supplemented the diet. The native Indians have experienced changes in survival strategies. Presently, they complement their diet, using eggs, meat, and chicken. Some Nayar’s are also vegetarians and use vegetables in their diet.

The Nayar’s are increasingly becoming a more retail-focused culture. It is notable that the Nayar’s have ever relied on coconut (Moore, 1995). This has enabled them to escalate coconut farming. In addition, they engage in other non-farming activities including the application of coconut products in the generation of products. These products normally trade locally and internationally. The Nayar’s have employed this strategy as a means of complementing subsistence practices. Society started arguing that coconut and rice were inadequate to sustain their survival needs.

How the Mode of Subsistence has affected the Social Organization of the Nayar’s

Notably, social organizations comprise the interplay of people in society. In the case of Nayar, social organization entails the interplay between different members of the society such as castes and social status. The mode of subsistence has played a critical role in maintaining the close-knit existing between members of the Nayar’s. The helpers on the farms emanated from some of the most powerful castes and in-group backgrounds (Haviland et al., 2010). Furthermore, people held land in terms of their level of infeudation and sulfidation. Notably, most feudal native groups undertook subsistence activities. The people who had access to better economic opportunities had certain social and political differences. However, these differences have been insignificant for the groups (Haviland et al., 2010).

The composition of that Nayar’s Taravads has undergone considerable transformation processes. The production of abundant food resources in society facilitated the separation of the Taravads into smaller groups. It is notable that food production escalated because of the provision of adequate labor. Escalated food production had a direct impact on the population of the groups. The society had a massive population because excess food facilitated the expansion of families (Haviland et al., 2010).

The expansion of the population started interfering with the village land markings. People started extending the boundaries of their compounds thus making them indistinguishable. Furthermore, people started living in smaller groups compared to the first Caravans. It is notable that the boundaries and distinctiveness that primarily existed between the rural and urban populations also diminished significantly (Haviland et al., 2010).

The mode of subsistence has also affected the social organization of the Nayar people. The method of food production facilitated certain changes in the social ties that existed among the caste membership. The social ties were also present within the households that enjoyed the same social-economic settings. The Nayar households showed no disparities in their social status. Their abilities were noticeable within the caste membership.

However, it is notable that other salient differences were noticeable (Puthenkalam, 2005). Nayar people developed the same social ties. Notably, the existence of social relationships among different cast members and households varied in terms of socioeconomic status. Furthermore, the learned Nayar people did not appear superior to those who failed to gain education opportunities (Puthenkalam, 2005). They have continued to interact with the community in the same way as well as maintaining relationships with members.

The Impact of Subsistence Mode on Kinship

The subsistence strategy has enabled women to play a critical role in food production. Women control land ownership within society. Initially, Taravads included all household members. The kinship system enabled every kin emerging in a matrilineal structure to become powerful members in the households or castes (Parkin, 2001). The kinship also comprised of male and female Nayar’s emerging from female grandparents.

Kinship members stayed in a single Taravad unit complete with a household garden. Furthermore, property transfer took place along matrilineal lineages. Women enjoyed the rights to own farmlands. Women married men in a matrilineal structure (Haviland et al., 2010). The arrival of legal systems started allowing land partitioning escalated the formation of tamari. The Caravans comprise of women and youngsters from the same female ancestry. The farmlands subdivision also took place along the kinship structures.

The Impact of Subsistence Mode on Gender Roles

The Nayar people have a strong matrilineal structure that makes women superior to men. Women have full control over the land making them important decision-makers. Labor provision takes place according to gender and age disparities. Hard labor is provided by younger generations. The labor provision protects older persons and children from providing labor (Agrawal, 2009). The gender roles also shifted in terms of farming activities.


The culture of the Nayar’s has made them superior in the region. Their subsistence mode entails agricultural practices such as coconut and rice plantations. These food products form the greatest component of the Nayar peoples’ diet. They also survived on vegetables, fish, and pork meat to complement the diet. The Nayar’s are particularly matrilineal thus making women important decision-makers in food production than men. Social organization is going through transformations because of the globalization effects.


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Parkin, R. (2001). Kinship and Identity: Introduction. JASO, 28(3), 241-247. Web.

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