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The Pallar (previously Mallar) is a caste from the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. The Pallar are mostly agriculturalists in Tamil Nadu, Sri Lanka. They are spread across the Tamil diaspora demographic.
The Pallar are an ancient community, engaged extensively in wet land farming and distributed mainly in Thanjavur,Madurai and Ramanathapuram districts (Ramaiah 2004). The Pallar rank themselves highest among the scheduled castes, and number around 2.2 million (Census of India 2001).
- Kudumban SC List (SC 35)
- Moopan BC List (BC 65)
- Kaaladi BC List (BC 35)
- Kaaladi DNC List (DNC 28)
- Mannadi MBC List (MBC 16)
- Vathiriyar SC List (SC 72)
They claim to be the descendants of Devendran (the god of Marutham Land). Worship of the God Devendran was popular in ancient Tamil Nadu. Their ancestral linkage to the Sangam age God Devendran explains their rich heritage. Because these people were known for charity, heading and presiding village panchayat meetings, and being kind, they were referred to as kudumban. For their ability to control flood, on the other hand, they were Velallar. From the available research on ancient Tamil paddy history and evolution, there is a strong paddy culture prevailing in Tamil Nadu – Marutha Nilam and it is a continuation of 5000 years old paddy cultivation heritage by native people (pallars). Their age old customs, festivals and day-to-day life activities supports their claim to be the first cultivators of rice in Tamil Nadu. So these people prefer to call themselves Devendra Kula Vellalar.
The ancient people were described as warriors and farmers. The leader of the group, called the vendan (Indran) was later called the god of their land. The Pallars of today were most likely actually known as Mallar belonging to the Dravidian race about 2,300 years ago. These people were the rulers of Tamil country (Chera, Chola and Pandiya Trikings called Moovendhars - Vendhar or Vendhan). They are also most likely the descendants of Pallavas,who once ruled the Andhra and Tamil countries. Putting all these qualities together, the Mallar (Pallar) call themselves Devendra Kula Velalar. There are over 84 branches among Pallars. The Mallar were called Pallar only after the 15th century by more powerful tribes from other parts of South India with a view to degrading their social status.
Some of the Pallar consider the term Pallar to be derogatory, instead preferring to be known as Mallar (Tamil: மள்ளர்) (a term also used by an ancient tribe that lived in the region), or by the name Devendra Kula Vellalar (DKV), a name connoting they were created by Devendra. They say that the Pallar term was introduced in the 17th century by Nayak kings to discriminate against them and that prior to this they were known as Mallar. In support of a name change to DKV, Pallars have undertaken hunger strikes and rallies. In January 2011, the government of Tamil Nadu appointed a one-man commission to consider this latest name change.
The name of the caste was previously given as Pallan, however some caste members replaced the Tamil non-honorific terminal-"n" with an honorific "r", resulting in the name Pallar; a similar process was seen in the fellow Dalit Paraiyar (or Paraiyan) community.
Alternately, the term Pallar may derive from the word pallam, meaning a pit or low-lying region. Accordingly the community may have been named at one point Pallam after the type of land they cultivated.
In Tamil literature
Mallars are mentioned in Tamil literature from the ancient Sangam Literature to the recent 19th century poems, including Purananuru, Kamba Ramayanam, Thirumurukkatruppatai, Silapathigaram, Agananuru, Pathirtrupattu, Kurunthogai, Aingurunooru, Kalithogai, Natrinai, and Paripaadal.
The Pallar are the focus of a genre of Tamil poetry known as pallu. The genre developed in the 17th and 18th centuries, and depicts the Pallar hero dealing with the jealousies of his two wives and the oppression of his landlord in a satirical depiction of Pallar zeitgeist. The pallu, while maintaining its basic storyline, developed into many forms, with the Mukkudal pallu the oldest, including depiction of the struggles between Shaivites and Vaishnavites.
Among the Christian Tamils of Sri Lanka, the genre has been modified into nanapallu, a genre where the same story is told, but with the satirical and erotic elements replaced by Christian religious themes.
Pallu poems are part of chitrilakiyangal in Tamil literature. Pallu poems were also known as 'aesal'(a kind of ironical poem). They were written during the Nayak rule. The first pallu poem was 'mukkoodar pallu'. Many pallu poems were written which include vaiyapuri pallu, sengottu pallu, thandigai kanagaraayan pallu.[clarification needed] All the Pallu poems consist of a Pallan who has got two wives. It also explains about the farming and the life of a Pallar farmer.
- Slavery (East Indies): Copy of the DESPATCH from the Governor General of India in Council to the Court of Directors of the East India Company dated the 8th day of February 1841 No 3 with the Report from the Indian Law Commissioners dated the 15th day of January 1841 and its Appendix enclosed in that Despatch on the subject of Slavery in the East Indies. The House of Commons. 26 April 1841. pp. 117–122.
- Tamil Nadu Date Highlights: The Scheduled Castes Census of India 2001 (pdf)
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- Gnanasekran, Thiru. Pallu ilakiyam maruvasippu.