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Nadar Community Last Rites and Final Ceremonies

The local tradition believes in cremating the dead. This goes back to the belief that the human body is made up of the five elements earth, water, fire, air and space and shall return to those five elements after death. This happens much faster when cremated than when buried and is thus the better way to dispose of the dead body with respect and dignity to the deceased person.

The Last Rites

When a person dies, the family and relatives prepare the dead body before taking it to the crematorium.

For this they first wash the body and gather fi rewood to burn it. To prepare the wood, they take some sand and cow dung from nearby, mix it with water and paste it onto the wood.

Often the family members will also put rice in the mouth of the dead person, symbolically showing the unity of the family; for the family members have taken care of that person and provided him with food while he was alive and will do so even after he is dead.

They also use some dried leaves to put them with some more firewood on the body.

According to the local customs and tradition, the youngest son cremates the father and the eldest son does the same for the mother.

The main work of the cremator (Vettiyan) is to attend to the dead bodies until they have fully burnt to ashes, with only the bones remaining whole.

After the body is fully burnt, the cremators send a message to the family members and the sons will sacrifice their hair in order to pay their respects to the deceased person.

Again, the younger son will let his hair be cut if the father died and the elder son if the mother died.

To pay the barber (Kudimahan) for cutting the hair, each family member throws some money in a white cloth, which is then given to the barber. The washerman (Ekalimahan) is paid for clothe washing services of the deceased person.

Three days after the cremation the family members sprinkle milk on the ashes and the remaining bones.

This symbolises finishing the circle of life and death.

The human being has started his life with drinking milk and shall end it with milk too.

There lies the role of Smban (vettian), Ekalimahan and Nadar Kudimahan whose roles are significant.

During weddings it is still a custom to donate the two bunches of Bananas; that decorate the entrance to the Dhobi (vannan) and Barber (Maruthuvar or Navithar) community people. They are termed Ekalimahan and "Kudimahan". the concept of HAIR CUTTING through family barber (Kudimahan) and LAUNDARY SERVICES by Family Vannaan ( Ekalimahan or Dhobi) were common in Tamil communities. The custom for the last two thousand years is that every one born in the society are believed to indebted to the services of Ekalimahan and Kudimahan. According to the Dravidian oriental system, while any one departs from the earthly abode, they not only has to complete their family duties but also obtain indepedance from the Service bond offered by the Ekalimahan and Kudimahan people.

The Kudimahan is supposed to organise in various customs for the departed and ceremonies for heirs or identified heirs of the departed. The carpentar with the association of a barber would build "paadai" & "Ther" ( the bamboo or wooden carrier and chariot/ decorated with flowers). .

The blowing of Sangu or kombu during death are taken for a sort of announcement. The Nadar civil society federation committee advised Kudimahan to engage two conch blowing persons to declare that the death is exclusive to a nadar family member. Members of family / kin group & clan group (Pangaalis /Dhayadhis) who derive geneaology from the same family tree participate in mournings.

The body is decked with new clothes and flowers and is placed on a Ther. The Ther is is carried on the shoulders.The friends and relatives (Menfolk) participate in the funeral procession. Nadar Uravinmurai committee maintains exclusive crematorium for Nadar community people.

After the customary lighting of funeral pyre in ground. , the relations have a bath at cremation ground and only then return home. After a overnight, the close relations go to cemetry ground to cool the burning.

The traditional practices in the past several centuries had very detailed and systematic procedures of ceremonies during and after the death an individual which extends to formation and maintenance of memorial stupis, samadhis, idols, vilakku maadams,in a big garden called thoppu /thottam /Paimphozhil/vanam with the support services of Samban and Kudimahan.

Dhasthi charges in house and cremation ground, Shaving, Karumadhi, Tonsuring charges for kolli mottai, associate mottai and special mottais of the kin, kith and clan of the deceased, Conch blowing, charges for release of service bond from Kudimahan and Ekali mahan (suthanthiram koduthal) are paid to the services. The additional fixed charges to service people will be borne on the day of special mourning day called aSasthiram or Puja Respects to the departed by the close kith and kin.

Thalakattu is offered to the younger male generation to take responsibility from the deceased elders. Thalaikattu is family ritual bestowed when the when the male member takes family responsibility when his father or the elder in the family expires to further shoulder the responsibility of the family. When bestowed with the Thalaikattu, the family adult male members swaears to take the responsibiilty of the family and village and becomes a Pangali bestowing membership to clan group.

Bsram B


I am a writer.

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