Vellalan in India

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Vellalan
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Map Source:  People Group Location: Omid. Other geography / data: GMI. Map Design: Joshua Project
People Name: Vellalan
Country: India
10/40 Window: Yes
Population: 2,555,000
World Population: 2,584,000
Primary Language: Tamil
Primary Religion: Hinduism
Christian Adherents: 3.13 %
Evangelicals: 0.00 %
Scripture: Complete Bible
Online Audio NT: No
Jesus Film: Yes
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: Tamil
Affinity Bloc: South Asian Peoples
Progress Level:

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.

Today the Vellalars continue to be agricultural landowners, military officers, businesspersons, Tamil scholars and temple patrons. They are considered by the Indian government to be a forward or more successful caste so they are not eligible for special places in education and public service. The primary language of the Vellalars is Tamil. They also speak other regional languages such as Malayalam, Telugu and Kannada.

Where Are they Located?

All Vellalars originally came from the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Some migrated to other south Indian states such as Kerala and Karnataka. Some have moved to the island nation of Sri Lanka.

What Are Their Lives Like?

The Vellalars live at the highest levels of south Indian society. They are leaders in business, education and agricultural affairs. They take pride in their ancient Tamil heritage and are leading scholars in Tamil historical studies.

The Vellalars are endogamous, that is they marry within their families and clans. Cousin marriages are common. Sons inherit property from their parents. Many prefer to use their own priests rather than Brahmins in important life ceremonies.
Many Vellalars are vegetarians. Others eat meat but refrain from beef.

Their dead are either cremated or buried.

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.

A tiny minority of Vellalars are Christians.

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 Christianity lived out in a real way before them. They need to realize that Shiva will not meet their spiritual needs but Lord Jesus will.

Prayer Points

* Pray the Christian Vellalars would grow in the faith and reach out to their brothers and sisters with the gospel.
* Pray that God would create a spiritual hunger in the Vellalars that can only be met by the God of the Bible.
* Pray that many Vellalars would come humbly to our Savior and that growing churches would be planted in the Vellalar community.

Text Source:   David Kugel