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A good introduction to Saiva Velalars - from net

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  • sathuragirivel@yahoo.com
    Saiva Velalars of Tamil Nadu ... Since the time immemorial, clans have exisited among tamils and they can not be equated to castes of today. Even the old
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 30, 2001
      Saiva Velalars of Tamil Nadu

      Since the time immemorial, clans have exisited among tamils and they
      can not be equated to castes of today.

      Even the old Tholkappiam of tamil speaks about four groups of people.

      The conversion of clans into castes has been a recent phenomenon (
      late chola period), considering the long history we have. We hear
      about right-hand castes and left-hand castes only during the cholas
      like Kulotunga which you could put around 1100 A.D. Clans got
      themselves converted into castes and got themselves established and
      strengthened during this period.

      Till then, a rigid caste structure never existed and teh fortunes of
      various clans kept changing because of incessant wars being faught
      among tamil kings and with other invaders. The caste structure got a
      firm footing after the arrival of people from other languages into
      the tamil country.

      Intially the castes were either classified into two major groups. One
      were those who own land or go to war and another was those who
      depended on manual labour for living like artisans, weavers, farm
      labourers, etc., Brahmins were out of this and they were on the top

      This got further strengthened over a period of time where a loose
      hierarchy got installed. The Brahmins were on the Top, followed by
      velalars (land owning class), Chettiars (business), warrior
      communities like Thevar, Maravar, Kallar, Vanniar, (defence and local
      management)etc., Others were below these groups. It is said that
      there was enough movement from the ranks of warriror castes to the
      velalars depending on the wealth, power and education acquired by the
      warrior caste family. There is a saying in tamil that says "Kallar,
      Maravar, Maravar slowly become velalars".

      Due to a process called Sansrikritisation (Every caste takes up the
      habits and customs of its immediate superior to reach the superior
      status), some section of velalars gave up meat eating and became
      vegetarian (They are know as Saiva Velalars). This process had
      started as early as Pallava Period (700 AD) but even the great tamil
      literature "Periya Puranam" talks about Velalar as a single grouping.
      The actual mention of Saiva Vellalars as a caste grouping is
      available in literature only after teh establishment of Telugu
      Nayakar rule in Tamil Nadu.(1600 AD).

      The saiva velalars carry a number of titles like Pillai, Mudaliar,
      etc., depending on their area of domicile. The saiva velalars of
      pandya and chola kingdom carry the title pillais and those from the
      pallava kingdom used to carry the titls of mudaliars. These titles
      are also used by other castes also.

      Written by Mr.Kalees
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