The Velakkathala Nayar (or Vilakkithala Nair, Vilakkithallvan) are the barber caste in Kerala, India. They are a backward caste of the Nairs and are the only matrilineal community in the country. They follow the marumakkathayam (matrilineal) system where the rights of the maternal niece and nephews, and all other rights of the joint family are with the female members. Marriages are usually conducted in the temples; every moment is auspicious and they are directly blessed by Lord Vishnu, the Protector. The wedding ceremony lasts only a few minutes. It is styled after the Gandharva Vivaaha in its simplicity which is one of the eight forms of Hindu marriage rituals. On the wedding day, in the wedding mandapa brass lamp is lit and placed with ghee or coconut oil. The groom sits under the canopy, facing east. Amidst naadaswaram (music) accompaniments, the Vilakkithala brides traditionally dressed are led to the wedding altar, a canopy, by the father or maternal uncle. The bride sits on the left side of the groom. The groom ties the mangalsuthra, which is strung by threads extracted from the veli-pudava, a dress presented by the groom & family to the bride for the wedding ceremony. The bride and groom put a var-mala or garland around each other's neck. This ceremony is followed by an 18 course feast called a sadya, which is served on a plantain leaf. The mangalsuthra is transferred to a gold neck-chain after three days, when the bride returns to her husband's maternal home.