Nair Tharawad Analysis

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Though many critics believe that women in a Nair tharawad enjoyed a lot of freedom compared to the women of the present day, some hold an entirely divergent point of view. Even though the woman was the centre of the tharawad, it was controlled by the Karanavan. The husband-wife relationship was not a matter of great concern, for the husband’s duty was to procreate children for the tharawad. In theory, women could exercise authority over their tharawad since property was under their control. But in practice women failed to protest against the autocratic attitude of the Karanavan. According to Robin Jeffrey, “Matriliny in Kerala was humane. Though the system was not matriarchal – women did not govern the household – it accorded them greater freedom, choice and respect than they would have found elsewhere in the world until the twentieth century” (35).
According to Renjini, “Even though the tarawad was de jure under the control of women but de facto it was ruled by the karanavan” (19). The Malabar tharawad had
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Devika, in her En-gendering Individuals: The Language of Re-forming in Early Twentieth Century Keralam, vividly portrays the changes that have taken place in Kerala in the domestic and public sphere. She writes, “These decades also saw the spread of modern domesticity and the conjugal family; earlier modes of domestic life and marriage came under increasing threat due to legislative interventions and economic change, and . . . new ideas regarding civilized and moral family life and personal freedom gained greater velocity of circulation” (5-6).
But these social changes did not bring about great changes in the lives of women. Anna Chandy, speaking on behalf of the ‘women of Keralam’ in 1929, found that the ideal of domestic womanhood does not in itself pave the way for self-transformation. She argues for the employment of women in public institutions. This period also saw the discussion regarding the relevance of English education for Malayalee

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