Vanniyan in India

Photo Source:  Anonymous 
Map Source:  People Group data: Omid. Map geography: UNESCO / GMI. Map Design: Joshua Project
People Name: Vanniyan
Country: India
10/40 Window: Yes
Population: 13,734,000
World Population: 13,771,000
Primary Language: Tamil
Primary Religion: Hinduism
Christian Adherents: 1.37 %
Evangelicals: 0.00 %
Scripture: Complete Bible
Online Audio NT: No
Jesus Film: Yes
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: South Asia Hindu - other
Affinity Bloc: South Asian Peoples
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

The terms Vanniyans and Padayatchi has been used interchangeably because of the same historical origin they claim. In reality, Vanniyars are descendants the medieval Pallava Kings who ruled the South Indian states of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. Padayatchi and Vanniyan have minor differences as Padayatchi is a class within the Vanniyan castes. Most Vanniyan live in the three adjacent southern states of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, mostly concentrated in the area where these three states intersect. Among the lower castes in the Tamil Nadu, they are the most populous and they are one of the earliest castes to be socially well organized. Today they are the most politically mobilized and well-informed caste in Tamil Nadu. The main language of the Vanniyan is Tamil. A small fraction of them claim to be followers of Jesus Christ.

What Are Their Lives Like?

The Vanniyans are officially in Kshatriya caste which gives them good status in the Hindu system. Most Vanniyan engage in agriculture and animal husbandry for a living. Rice is by far the most important crop grown in South India. Educated Vanniyan are politicians, government administrators, college professors, scientists and engineers. The Vanniyan generally marry within their group. Families arrange marriages with the consent of the young people. Sons inherit the property of their deceased father. Caste associations settle legal disputes and enforce social norms.

What Are Their Beliefs?

The overwhelming majority of Vanniyars are Hindu. Hinduism is a catch-all phrase for the local religions of South Asia, so it is very diverse. At the popular level, Hindus worship and serve the gods of the Hindu pantheon. They visit Hindu temples and offer prayers, food, flowers, and incense to their gods in hopes of gaining protection and benefits. They do not have a personal or familial relationship with their gods like Christians do.

What Are Their Needs?

The Vanniyan need humility so that they can see themselves as sinners in need of a Savior. In South India where the Vanniyan live, there are many believers who can tell them about Jesus.

Prayer Points

Pray that God will raise up prayer teams to break up the soil in the Vanniyan community through worship and intercession. Ask the Lord to call Indian believers who willing share Christ with the Vanniyars and help them begin their own disciple making movement. Ask the Holy Spirit to soften their hearts of the Vanniyan towards Christians so that they will be receptive to the gospel.

Text Source:   Keith Carey