Introduction / History
The term Vanniyars (Vanniyans) and Padayatchi has been used interchangeably because of the same historical origin they claim. They trace their ancestry from the five sons of Veera Vanniyan or Rudra Vanniya Maharaja who assumed leadership of the country after having freed the earth from Vatapi and Mahi by destroying these two Brahma-worshiping Asuras. It was believed that armed horsemen sprung from flames as a result of the Yagam, or sacrifice by yogic powers performed by Jambuva Mahamuni or Sambu/Jambu Maharishi as requested by gods and lords so as to put an end to the garrisoning of the Earth by the two Asuras. The horsemen were named VanniRaya. In reality, Vanniyars are descendants the medieval Pallava Kings who ruled Andhra and northern Tamilnadu with their capital at Kanchipuram. Padayatchis and Vanniyars have minor differences as Padayatchi is a class within the Vanniyar castes.
Where are they located?
Most Vanniyars in India are in the three adjacent southern states of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andrha 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 very earliest caste to be socially well organized. Today they are the most politically mobilized and well-informed caste in the Tamil Nadu.
There were several waves of Tamil dispersals from India and Sri Lanka creating what is known as Tamil diaspora. Many Vanniyars migrated to South Africa, Malaysia, Singapore, Seychelles, Mauritius and Fiji and the next generation Vanniyars have been using variant titles such as Govendar, Naicker and Padayatchi amongst themselves.
What are their lives like?
The Vanniyars are officially classed belonging to the feudal caste of Vanniakula Kshatriya in Tamil Nadu. There are 92 different names or sub caste/sub titles given for Vannia Kula Kshatriya community. The members of the Vanniyar caste are known by several names depending on location and status. They may be referred to as Padayatchi, Gounder, Naicker or Nayagar, Reddiar, Kander/Kandar, Palli and many other titles in Tamil Nadu, Vanniar Gounder, Reddiar,Padayatchi etc in pondicherry, in Karnataka they are called Tigala / Thigala, or Thigilaru with a common suffix of Gowda, Hebbar or Hebbe and Nayakar. In Andhra Pradesh, Vanniars are usually known as Palli, Agnikula Kshatriya, Vanniyakula Kshatriya, Vanne Kapu or Vanne Reddy. In Kerala, they are called Vaniya pillai, Vaniya nair and Reddiar.
What are their beliefs?
The overwhelming majority of Vanniyars are Hindu. Rather than believing in one god, they believe in a multitude of gods.
What are their needs?
*Pray that God will raise up prayer teams to break up the soil through worship and intercession.
*Ask the Lord to call people who are willing to go to India and share Christ with the Bhil.
*Ask the Holy Spirit to soften their hearts towards Christians so that they will be receptive to the Gospel.
Text source: Toni Tagimacruz