|Region||Tamil Nadu, Pondicherry|
The Vanniyar, who were once known as the Palli, are a community or jāti found in Southern India.
Researcher Lloyd I. Rudolph notes that as early as 1833, the Vanniyar filed a claim in Pondicherry to prove they were high caste, and in preparation for the 1871 Indian census they petitioned to be recognised as being of the kshatriya (warrior) varna of Hindu society. By 1931, due to their successful politicking, the term Palli was removed from the Madras census, with the term Vanniya Kula Kshatriya appearing instead.
The Vanniyar formed a number of caste organisations, with the Vanniyakula Kshatriya Maha Sangam appearing in Chennai in 1888.
Traditionally most Vanniyars are agricultural labourers. Increasingly however, they are benefiting from political influence and organisation and they now own 50% of the lands of the traditional landowners. The Vanniyars who previously were of the Backward Class Category, were now designated as the Most Backward Caste after successful agitations in the 1980s by Vanniyar groups. The reason for the agitation and subsequent re-classification was to avail more government benefits for the community.
The Vannimai chieftains in what is now Sri Lanka arose from a multi-ethnic and multi-caste background. A primary source, the Yalpana Vaipava Malai, states that some were descended from Vanniyar caste immigrants from modern Tamil Nadu[need quotation to verify][need quotation to verify][need quotation to verify] Some Sri Lankan historians derive the title Vannimai from the Tamil word vanam, meaning "forest", with Vannia or Wannia meaning "person from the forest", and Vannimais being large tracts of forested land.
Many castes today claim descent from Malayaman. Dennis B. McGilvray states "Malayaman is a section of the Udaiyar caste in South Arcot today, but Burton Stein also finds the title in a thirteenth-century inscription identifying Vanniyar subcastes of South Arcot in the left-right caste classification typical of the Chola empire."
- S. S. Ramasamy Padayachi, Founder of the Tamil Nadu Toilers' Party
- S. Ramadoss, Founder, Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK)
- Kaduvetti Guru, Vanniar Sangam Leader, MLA Jayamkondam
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- Sivaratnam, C. (1968). "Tamils in early Ceylon". OCLC 248358279.
As for cultivators he got down fifty one tribes of Vanniyars, a caste of agriculture experts from the Pandyan coasts ... on the invitation of Kulakoddan in c 493 for the noble purpose of cultivating the land at Tambalakamam.
- McGilvray, Dennis B. (1982). Mukkuvar Vannimai: Tamil Caste and Matriclan Ideology in Batticaloa, Sri Lanka. pp. 34–97.
- Karthigesu (1995). Sri Lankan Tamil Society and Politics. pp. 7–9. ISBN 81-234-0395-X.
- McGilvray, Dennis B. (2008). Crucible of Conflict: Tamil and Muslim Society on the East Coast of Sri Lanka. Duke University Press. p. 372. ISBN 978-0-8223-8918-7. Retrieved 10 July 2013.
- de Neve, Geert; Donner, Henrike. The Meaning of the Local: Politics of Place in Urban India.
- Venkatachalapathy, A. R. (2011). ""More Kshatriya than thou!" Debating caste and ritual ranking in colonial Tamilnadu". In Bergunder, Michael; Frese, Heiko; Schröder, Ulrike. Ritual, Caste and Religion in Colonial South India. Primus Books. ISBN 9789380607214.