Thursday, June 11, 2015

Kerla, Advent of Polyandry to secure Land through Sambandham

Kerla, Advent of Polyandry to secure Land through Sambandham
By Muktipada Behera

The way Dev-dasi system in temple is a Hindu way of prostitution, in the same way Sambandham is a Hindu way of rape. Sambandham is a rape ritual, though some hold it in high esteem and as natural order of human co-habitation.

Anizham Thirunal Veerabaala Marthanda Varma (1706–7 Jul 1758) was king of Travancore from 1729 until his death in 1758. Marthanda Varma decided to dedicate his realm to Sri Padmanabhaswamy, and thereafter rule as the deity's vice-regent. The dedication took place on January 3, 1750. After that the whole kingdom was under the control of priest ( Namboothiri brahmins). Then you imagine the rest how it turned into cruel act. And History is the witness.

Kerala king donated all lands to priests. Now rest non-brahmins including lower caste had to depend on priests for food, survival. So they became the slave in the hand of priest.

When Brahmins of Kerala became the masters of temples, their political influence also increased. Gradually they became landlords. To maintain their property intact and to avoid its division, they practiced the theory that the eldest of their son alone would marry from the same caste and others from Nair classes. This practice is known as Sambandham. Though Brahmins considered Sambandham as one of the 64 Anacharams (social do-nots), this type of alliance existed for centuries. Gradually Sambandham became common within Nair community also.

Sambandham means simple nair marriage ceremony involving presentation of a cloth by a man to woman. In ancient Kerala it appears that both men and women could have Sambhandam with more than one person at the same time. Marriages contracted and ended with considerable ease. This was called Sambandham and a woman might have Sambandham with a number of men at the same time. Either man or woman could end the Sambandham with little formality.

Another way to solve the land division, In a Namboothiri family, only the oldest brother was allowed to marry; he could marry up to four Namboothiri women. The younger brothers were allowed to enter into relationships with Nair women. The Nair woman would then have two husbands (a Nair and a Namboothiri) and in essence, a system of polyandry came into being. However, as a consequence of this practice, the number of Namboothiris declined and the number of Nairs increased because the children born in a Nair-Namboothiri marriage would belong to the Nair woman's family.

On the other hand, to stop the land partition among priest’s male children, they made the rule that only elder son will get married to a Brahmin girl and elder son will inherit the land. Then what about the younger sons of priest class? They made a rule, younger sons cannot marry, but they can keep part time sexual relationship with any non-brahmin married women of their choice. Married women because, they cannot take the responsibility of that women or of her child in future due to land partition issue. So they looked only for married women for free-sex. This ritual Sambandham is a method, where the priest’s younger son will go to any non-brahmin’s house and ask for their women for sex. And they cannot deny in the fear of losing food/land. They will do some puja and after that she will be the part time sex partner. And later through another puja, this relation can be terminated. And it was a forceful act because for food sake (land) people had to agree. Now these non-brahmins (nairs, lower caste) women became a victim of the situation. Now what happen to the children born out of this relation? Those children cannot be Brahmins. They remain in same caste. Even they don’t know who is the father of that new born child because there are many husbands. So the children consider all male partners as their fathers.

Though non-brahmins are sexual victim, the worst case happened for lower caste women. At night they will be on bed with priest. And at day time they were untouchables. Kerala is a place, the road on which Brahmins were walking they will sought “Apasara Apasara-move away, move away” from a distance. They cannot touch lower-caste peoples’ shadow. These lower caste people were holding a pot on their neck to avoid spitting on road and broomstick on the waist so that they can clean the road while moving. And people are ready to obey to priest for stomach sake. Even later Kerala kings also could not do anything because their forefather’s donated all land to priest.

In the Muslim and Christian ruling, many got converted due to this injustice. It is seen those people were untouchables and their wives are raped in the name of Hindu religion, they were not allowed to wear shirts. Once they get converted those priests will do hand-shake and offer chair to lower-caste people and they cannot rape their wives in the fear of Muslim/Christian rulers. Those foreign rulers helped them in this sense to stop the rape and human exploitation. And now whatever Muslims/Christians you are seeing in Kerla religion, they were converted voluntarily due to this injustice.

Two great saints Narayana Guru and Swami Vivekananda have mentioned this thing. Even Swami Vivekananda said Kerala is a “lunatic asylum”. He wrote in a letter to Pandit Shankarlal of Khetri, from BOMBAY, in 20th September, 1892 “To what a ludicrous state are we brought! If a Bhângi comes to anybody as a Bhangi, he would be shunned as the plague; but no sooner does he get a cupful of water poured upon his head with some mutterings of prayers by a Pâdri, and get a coat on his back, no matter how threadbare, and come into the room of the most orthodox Hindu — I don't see the man who then dare refuse him a chair and a hearty shake of the hands! Irony can go no further. And come and see what they, the Pâdris, are doing here in the Dakshin** . They are converting the lower classes by lakhs; and in Travancore, the most priestridden country in India — where every bit of land is owned by the Brahmins, and the females, even of the royal family, hold it as high honor to live in concubinage with the Brahmins, nearly one-fourth has become Christian!.”

In another lecture “The future of India” he said - “Was there ever a sillier thing before in the world than what I saw in Malabar country? The poor Pariah is not allowed to pass through the same street as the high-caste man, but if he changes his name to a hodge-podge English name, it is all right; or to a Mohammedan name, it is all right. What inference would you draw except that these Malabaris are all lunatics, their homes so many lunatic asylums, and that they are to be treated with derision by every race in India until they mend their manners and know better. Shame upon them that such wicked and diabolical customs are allowed; their own children are allowed to die of starvation, but as soon as they take up some other religion they are well fed. There ought to be no more fight between the castes.”

There are many Malayalam movies showing these pathetic situations. What a metal trauma the girl goes through in managing many Husbands and how the nair husband and Brahmin younger son behave to the situation.  The husband and wife did not live together, and the children were not admitted to the family of their father but were raised by their mother and her brothers. You can check with keralites (especially from Nair family), their grand-mother may have a Brahmin husband in the name of religion.

Sambandham relates to Nair marriage. It is known so in South Malabar, Kozhikode, Ponnani, Kochi and in some parts of Travancore. The Sanskit words like Sambandham and Bandhavam came to common use after the Aryan domination. In earlier days marriage denoted the grand function organized on the eve of Thalikettu. The marriage among Nairs was usually called as Pudavakoda, Pudakamuri, Uzham Porukkal etc. Sambandham was known as Pudamuri, Uzhamporukkuka and Vidaram Kayaruka in North Malabar; Gunadhoshm in South Malabar and Kidakka Kalyanam in certain areas of Palakkad. The functions related to this were very simple. The bridegroom arrives in the bride’s residence on the appointed day and time along with his near relatives. The bride’s brother will wash the feet of the bridegroom and then he enters the padinjatta (main room of the house) and gave four or eight cloths, betel wine and areca nut to the bride. After food, the bride’s aunt leads the groom and bride to the Maniyara (room for the married couple). The groom will leave to his residence the next day or after one or two days. When he comes with his friends for the second time, the bride also will be taken to the groom’s residence either by himself or by the women of his family. It is interesting to note that the functions like Thalikettu (tying thali-gold ornament around bride’s neck) Mothiram aniyal (exchange of rings) and garlanding were not there in Pudavakoda. Those attending the functions will be less than twenty. The person who gave the pudava was known as Gunadoshakkaran.

The Pudamuri of North Malabrar was celebrated in a grand manner. After comparing the horoscopes and fixing a date the bridegroom and his relatives and friends proceed to bride’s residence after sun set. The bride’s relatives will arrange a reception to the party. After feast, the astrologer declares the auspicious time for Pudamuri. Then the groom will be taken to padinjatta (the main room of house). Nilavilakku, Ashtamangalyam, paddy tender leaf of coconut, bow, mirror etc will be placed in the room. The bride who is well adorned with various types of ornaments will be led to this room. The bridegroom will give pudava (new cloth) to the bride who is facing to the eastern direction. The functions of pudamuri will end for that day. Next day the groom’s relative will take the bride to grooms house after attending the function known as ‘vettilakettu’.

Uzham Porukku and Vidaram Kayaral were the special type of marriages in North Malabar. Pudamuri was an expensive affair and therefore all cannot afford this. Therefore, some depend on Uzham Porukku. The functions were same as that of pudamuri but they were less expensive and conducted in a small scale.

Giving way of pudava was not done in the Sambandham of South Malabar and Kidakka Kalyanam of Palakkad. Instead of Pudava, cash will be given. The bride will not be taken to the bridegroom’s residence. Therefore, there will not be any reception.

The legal validity for Sambandham marriage came to an end with the enactment of the Nair Regulation Act of M.E.1100 (1924 A.D.). Up to this, there was no validity for their Sambandhams. The new regulation prohibited them to own and disown wives at their pleasure. Certain conditions were also laid out for divorce etc.  This law does not exist today.

From Media

[Ref-9]When Vivekananda visited Kerala in the 1890s, the state was steeped in social inequities and moral degradation. Caste hegemony lorded over everything and women from the lower castes were not allowed to cover their breasts. The ‘paraiahs’ could not walk the streets without being ridiculed and shamed.

[Ref-12] There was breast tax imposed on lower caste women for covering their breasts. If they cover their chest, then they have to pay tax. A courageous women Nangeli protested against this and she cut her breast to give to tax collector. After that she died. Indian should salute her for her dedication.

[Ref-13] Women were denied to cover breasts while entering into temple.


After independence of India, the law is enacted to stop the polyandry among these people. This NOT just a matrilineal system - where one husband staying in one wife's house through property inheritance. This was a ridiculous tradition - a polyandry to hijack farm-lands, a sin as per Hindu religion, exploitation to lower castes, practice of untouchability, conversion into Islam and Christian, exploitation of women sentiment, children were deserted from father's higher caste, more over this is done to fill the stomach, just for food sake, which is missing from Indian history. It can not be justified however flowery language one can use.


7. There comes Papa, by G.Arunima.


  1. I am not able to digest this fact.

  2. When Vivekananda visited Kerala in the 1890s, the state was steeped in social inequities and moral degradation. Caste hegemony lorded over everything and women from the lower castes were not allowed to cover their breasts. The ‘paraiahs’ could not walk the streets without being ridiculed and shamed.

  3. also read about nadar(shanar) Tamil caste of South India and Sri Lanka. They are related to Nairs of Kerala.

  4. This is true, but today things are have changed. The Ezhava caste who were one among worst treated caste are the most powerful caste. Through Land reforms act (thanks to Communist) and their caster organization SNDP they are well off today.

    Namboothiri today are in dire poverty, their generation are cursed, same with Nair community who are going through poverty and psychological problems.

    Thanks to different caste gurus like Chattampi swamikal, Shri Narayana Guru, Mannathu Padmanabhan things are changed a lot till 2016. Indifference between Nair and Ezhava Caste, Muslims and Christians have progressed in all aspect of life.

    Today in year 2016 there seems to a mood among Nairs and Ezhavas to unite to fight for injustice and minority appeasement.

    This is a brutual truth and bad karma we malayali have to live with.

  5. Well it looks like the new millenials who want to be liberated and not marry ever. But this time all are slaves to modern banking and capitalist system that may collapse

  6. Stupid post , and you know I can screw you

  7. The system was as wrong as when Slave owners had children with slave women and those children also became slaves . Worst is that some other men of lower castes whose shadow upper caste could not touch would be taking care of the children produced by the upper caste . And what was the relationship between husband and wife . It is worse than prostitution