Posted on Thursday, February 27, 2020
The Ambalavasis (also spelt as Ampalavasis) are a caste of a Hindu denomination most commonly found residing in Kerala. Their name is derived from Ambala which means temple and vasi which means resident. Thus, the Ambalavasis are residents of temples of Kerala and perform tasks related to the upkeep and maintenance of the religious centres in Hinduism. Their common surnames are Chakyar, Pushpak, Pisharodi, Nambiar, Marar and Poduval.
Belonging to an ancient Hindu community of high caste, the Ambalavasis practice very intricate rituals and complex customs in the conduct of their marriage ceremonies. A refreshing feature is the presence of matrilineal succession followed by many sub sects of the Ambalavasi community. The bride also undergoes the Kettu Kalyanam (also known as Thali Kettu) ceremony on coming of marriageable age, without which she cannot marry. An old practice also own as Sambandham in the local language was once practiced in medieval times which are like contract marriages of today. During a Sambandham, the groom and his family visit the bride’s house and are seated in front of brass lamps. The eldest lay of the house brings the bride out and seats her next to the groom. By exchange of gifts, the Sambandham was completed. These days, Sambandham is no longer practiced but exists in folktales of the bravery of the Ambalavasi community.
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