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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, and some of them are still involved in menial jobs. They are spread across the Tamil diaspora demographic. They are also referred to as Mallar, Devendra Kula Velalar, kaaladi or kudumban. Their inner sub-sect castes are in all communities of Tamil Nadu. The Pallan are an ancient community, engaged extensively in wet land farming and distributed mainly in Thanjavur,Madurai and Ramanathapuram districts (Ramaiah 2004). The Pallan 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 are become agriculturalist. Panel to consider plea to rename Pallar as Mallar.
According to Guruswamy, the Pallar is an ancient group of people originating in the Marutam land. The land was said to be good for agriculture, and situated near a river. These people 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.
On the Pallar, Edward Balfour's 1885 The cyclopædia of India and of Eastern and Southern Asia noted:
PALLAN, Pallar, or Puller are a slave race attached to the Vellala agriculturists of the south of India. The Mallar are the agricultural labourers of the Pallar tribe. Pallan is applied specially to one who works in the fields. Their tribal title is Kudumpan, which means a headman or chief.
Edgar Thurston's Castes and Tribes of Southern India, Volume 1, states:
The headman of the Pallans is, in the Madura country, called Kudumban, and he is assisted by a Kaladi, and, in large settlements, by a caste messenger entitled Variyan, who summons people to attend council-meetings, festivals, marriages and funerals. The offices of Kudumban and Kaladi are hereditary...
In connection with the caste organisation of the Pallans in the Trichinopoly district, Mr. F. R. Hemingway writes as follows. "They generally have three or more head- men for each village, over whom is the Nattu Muppan. Each village also has a peon called Odumpillai (the runner). The main body of the caste, when attending council- meetings, is called ilam katchi (the inexperienced). The village councils are attended by the Muppans and the Nattu Muppan. Between the Nattu Muppan and the ordinary Muppans, there is, in the Karur taluk, a Pulli Muppan. All these offices are hereditary. In this taluk a rather different organisation is in force, to regulate the supply of labour to the landholders. Each of the village Muppans has a number of karais or sections of the wet-land of the village under him, and he is bound to supply labourers for all the land in his karai, and is remunerated by the landowner with ij marakkals of grain for every 20 kalams harvested. The Muppans do not work themselves, but maintain discipline among their men by flogging or expulsion from the caste. In the Karur taluk, the ordinary Pallans are called Manvettai-karans (mamoty or digging-tool men)."
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, a name connoting they were created by Devendra.
Many of the Pallar reject the term Pallar, a term which they say was introduced in the 17th century by Nayak kings to discriminate against them. They claim that prior to that they were known as Mallar, and wish to be called Devendra Kula Vellalar (DKV). 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 change their name as Devendra Kula Vellalar.
The Pallars have also demanded the Tamil Nadu government change the name Adi Dravidar (which is used to denote the people of Scheduled caste in Tamil Nadu) to Pattiyal sathigal (the Tamil translation of "Scheduled caste"). They argue that Adi Dravidar is the name of a caste which is presently in the Scheduled caste list.
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.
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- Thurston, Edgar. Castes and Tribes of Southern India. "The common titles of peoples are said to be Muppan and Kudumban and some style themselves Mannadi. Mannadi is a corruption of manradi, a title borne by Pallava people. It seems not improbable that pallas are representatives of the old pallavas."
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