|Palaiyakkarar of Panchalankurichi|
Veerapandiya Kattabomman on a 1999 stamp
|Reign||Ended 16 October 1799|
|Born||3 January 1760|
|Died||16 October 1799 (aged 39)|
|Father||Jagaveera Kattabomman|
Veerapandiya Kattabomman (a.k.a.Veerapandya Katta Brahmana) was an 18th-century Palayakarrar and chieftain from Panchalankurichi in Tamil Nadu, India. He refused to accept the sovereignty of the British East India Company and waged a war against them. He was captured by the British with the help of the ruler of the kingdom of Pudukottai, Vijaya Raghunatha Tondaiman, and was hanged at Kayathar on 16 October 1799.
There are various traditional stories told of Kattabomman that tend to glorify him and his petty kingdom. He was a Vatuka (northerner), a loose term for a group of Telugu-speaking castes which includes families who claim to have moved south to settle in the arid Tirunelveli region after the collapse of the Nayak-controlled Vijayanagara Empire in 1565. They had previously had some prominence in the imperial court and may have been adept at farming in dry conditions, although it is also possible that they had no choice but to settle where they did because the other significant community of Tirunelveli – the Maravars – had already occupied the more favourable areas. Kattabomman was a member of the Kambalatar caste, with the other two Vatuka communities being the Kammavars and the Reddies.
The historian Susan Bayly says that Kattabomman is considered a Robin Hood-like figure in local folklore and is the subject of several traditional narrative ballads in the kummi verse form. The site of his execution at Kayathar has become a "powerful local shrine" and at one time sheep were sacrificed there. The Government of Tamil Nadu maintains a memorial at Kayathar and the remnants of the old fort at Panchalankurichi is protected by the Archaeological Survey of India. In 2006, the Tirunelveli district administration organised a festival at Panchalankurichi on his birth anniversary.
To commemorate the bicentenary of Kattabomman’s hanging, the Government of India released a postal stamp in his honour on 16 October 1999. The Indian Navy communications centre at Vijayanarayanam is named INS Kattabomman.
Tamil poet Kannadasan wrote a script about Kattabomman which was adapted into Sivagangai Seemai. According to him Maruthu Pandiyars were the real freedom fighters, not Kattabomman. Kannadasan's assertion was supported by writer Tamilvanan, who criticised Kattabomman's glorification.
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