Introduction / History
Devendrakulam is the name of a caste in India. The members of the caste claim they have this name because they are the descendents of Lord Indra, King of the Devas. Majority of the people of this caste are involved in agriculture. The people of this caste are also called by Palla, Pallar, Kudumbar, Pannadi, Devendrakula Vellalar. The Devendrakula are also called "Mallar" which means Brave Warrior. The Devendrakulavellalar people belong to Moovendar (Chera Chola Pandiyas) origins. Though people of this caste claim superiority of their origin, the caste is included in the Scheduled Caste and many of its members were held as agriculture slaves and bonded agriculture labourers during the 17th Century until mid 20th Century.
Research suggest that the people of this caste are the descendents of the famous ancient Tamil Kings Cheras, Cholas, Pandyas and Pallavas who ruled the current Tamilnadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Part of Andra and Maharastra during ancient period and ruled Tamilnadu up to the 16th Century. Most of the ancient temples in and around Tamilnadu were built and owned by this community. After the invasion of Vijaynagar Empire and Marata Kings, the Tamil Kings and their community were removed of their title, land and were made as agricultural labourers in their own farms for which they were the then owners. To hide this historic fact these people who were then called as Mallar (Malla, Mallan) were named as Pallas (Palla, Pallan) and many poems were written during 17,18,19 and beginning of 20th Century in the name of Pallu Poems with the encouragement from Vijayanagar (Nayak) dynasty.
The Mallars were ex-communicated, then gradually over the next 300 years, their lands were removed and given to other new formed upper castes that were loyal to Telugu kings. The Mallars were named as Pallas and were made as agricultural labourers in the land in which they were once owners. Then after a few generations they were made as bonded labourers and then were removed of all basic human rights (Prevented from having education, access to public places and Temples built by their own ancestors, prohibition from wearing Ornaments and dress on the upper part of the body, shoes etc). To hide the truth that all temples built upto 16th Century AD were built by the ancestors of these people, attempts were made to hide temple paintings by redrawing new paintings on the old ones (Tanjavur Periya Koyil, Mariamman Koyil). During 1932 when British gave self-autonomy to Indians, 1000s of new castes sprung up claiming superiority on one over the other.
Where are they located?
The Devendrakulam live in Tamilnadu, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Karnataka and Sri Lanka.
What are their lives like?
Day-to-day activity shows evidence of the rich heritage these people had from ancient times. The community people have their own village self government (Panchayat), have special priests for temples, barbers, dobbies, doctors etc in villages. These people also have their own temples that are called as King Temples. They are also the priests in village temples, exclusively owned by these people. In ancient temples like Perur, Samayaburam, Tirunelvelli and so on, leaders of this community are brought to the temple with festivities on an elephant with white umbrella coverage, playing trumpets and drums and given the first respect during temple festivals and are asked to touch the TempleCaravan (Thear) first before it comes on procession. These were the privileges only the ancient Tamil kings had and were passed on to their descendents that still continues. Priests of these ancient Temples accept and agree that the ancestors of DevendraKulathar are the ancient Tamil Kings, Cheras, Cholas Pandyas and Pallavas.
There are ownership documents (Pattayam signed during 1500s) that show that the Palani Murugan Temple and numerous ancient Temples belong to people of Devendrakulam. These ancient Temples were built by ancient Tamil Kings thus these documents and respect given to people of this community at these temples bridge the relation between the ancient Kings and the Devendrakula community. Stone scriptures (Kalvettu) and inscription written in the 1500s also claim that the Devendrakulathars are the descendents of the Pandya dynasty.
What are their needs?
The Devendrakulavellalar community is now included in Scheduled Caste status. They do not like this because the Devendrakulavellalar are the descendents of Moovendar (CHERACHOLAPANDIYAS) ORGIN, they want to be uplited in status.
Text source: Devendran Viswamallar