Introduction / History
The Vellalan or Vellalar of south India have a long and proud history. They served as the landed aristocracy and as military officers and court officials in the three great Tamil dynasties. They were patrons of literature and the arts. The Vellalars made up the majority of government leaders and administrators in south India during the British period. Lower castes began calling themselves Vellalars and acting like them in order to gain their high status. Most live either in Kerala or Tamil Nadu, India's two southernmost states. In Kerala the Vellala use Malayalam as well as Tamil. They migrated from Tamil Nadu. In Tamil Nadu they speak, read and write in Tamil.
What Are Their Lives Like?
Today the Vellalars continue to be agricultural landowners, military officers, politicians, businesspersons, Tamil scholars, and temple patrons. They are considered by the Indian government to be a forward or higher status caste so they are not eligible for special places in education and public service. They often marry their cousins. They do not allow for divorcees and widows to marry again, however widowers can marry again. On the death of the father, the oldest son takes charge of family affairs. Boys and girls both get education. Unlike most Hindu peoples, they allow for either cremation or burial. There are vegetarians and non-vegetarians among them.
What Are Their Beliefs?
The vast majority of Vellalars are Hindus. They worship and serve the gods of the Hindu pantheon. Many follow a branch of Hinduism called Saiva Siddhantam. In this Hindu order adherents desire to be enlightened by Lord Shiva or Siva, one of the three main gods of Hinduism. Some Vellalars join monasteries and propagate the teachings of Shiva.
What Are Their Needs?
The Vellalars need to hear the life-changing message of Jesus Christ in a way they can understand. They need to see themselves as sinners in need of the Savior. They need to see obedience to Christ lived out in practical ways.
Pray that Vellala leaders come to Jesus Christ and lead others to a disciple making movement. Pray that gospel materials and the internet will lead them to Jesus Christ. Pray that the church will not neglect to pray for them.
Scripture Prayers for the Vellalan Tondamandalam in India.