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Following hostilities between the Nair and the British in 1809, the British limited Nair participation in the British Indian Army.After India's independence, the Nair Brigade of the Travancore State Force was merged into the Indian Army and became a part of the 9th Battalion, Madras Regiment, the oldest battalion in the Indian Army.Some Nair women also practiced hypergamy with Nambudiri Brahmins from the Malabar region.
Christopher Fuller, an anthropologist, has said that it is likely that the first reference to the Nair community was made by Pliny the Elder in his Natural History, dating from 77 AD.
That work describes what is probably the Malabar coast area wherein could be found the "Nareae, who are shut in by the Capitalis range, the highest of all the mountains in India".
Fuller believes it probable that the Nareae referred to the Nairs and the Capitalis range is the Western Ghats.
These family units along with their unusual marriage customs, which are no longer practiced, have been much studied.
Although the detail varied from one region to the next, the main points of interest to researchers of Nair marriage customs were the existence of two particular rituals — the pre-pubertal thalikettu kalyanam and the later sambandam - and the practice of polygamy in some areas.