Nadan (Nadar subcaste)

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Nadans (also referred as Nelamaikkarar and Real Nadar) are a small endogamanous group of aristocratic Nadars from the regions south of the Thamirabarani River. They were invested as tax gatherers by the Nayaks and by the Pandyans before them. They also served as petty lords under the poligars. The Nadans possessed vast tracts of land and were one of the few subcastes among the Nadars to have practiced aristocracy. The term Nadan literally means lords of the soil. [1][2][3]

Nadars of the 19thcentury[edit]

As hereditary tax collectors, the Nadans held civil authority over the lands in their control. The Nadar climbers were totally dependent on these powerful land lords and treated them with great respect. In the regions dominated by the Nadans, even the Vellalar accountant or the Brahmin priest would alike show deference to the position of the Nadan lords. [4] They rode horses and would buy slaves to work in their houses, inorder to retain their proud customs.[5] The Nadan women followed strict gosha,revealing themselves only to the men of their own house hold, and rode in covered palanquins. The oldest and highest Nadans were the Adityans of Kayamozhi. The Adityans claimed they were the descendants of Surya, the sun god. The Adityans also had special rights at the Siva temple in Thiruchendur. The Adityan family also constructed one of the pavilions of the Siva temple. They usually donated the huge wooden car to the temple and in return were given the privilege to be the first to touch the rope which would pull the car through the streets during festival times.[6]

Despite their great wealth and power the Nadans, however, were considered as a portion of the greater class of Nadars and were denied entrance into temples built by higher castes. The Nadans shared the pollution of the lowest climbers.[7] However, the Nadans themselves owned many Hindu temples in Southeastern Tirunelveli.[8] The Nadans would not enter Hindu temples built by higher castes until the issue was solved through movements and legislations. They claim that they were stripped of their rights and privileges due to the Nayak invasion.[9] The Nadar community was then divided into different opposing groups, with each Nadar climber owing allegiance to a Nadan family. The control of the lands may pass from one Nadan to another, but the climbers, however, remained always with the trees assigned to them.[10]

Opposing Christianity[edit]

In 1680, the first congregation of Nadars was started at Vadakkankulam with the conversion of a Nadar woman. The Nadar converts came neither from the lowest sections(Kalla Shanar) of the castes nor from the highest(Nadans), but from the middle subgroups and particularly the climbers. The converts were provided protection by the missionaries from the oppressions of Nadan landlords. With their traditional dominance threatened, the Nadans became the missionaries' greatest adversaries. Many Nadans supported anti-Christian societies such as the Vibuthi Sangam(the Sacred Ashes Society). However, by the 1860s the opposition of the Nadans began to wane. Eventually a few Nadans actually converted to Christianity.[1][11]

Nadars of Travancore[edit]

The Nadar climbers of Southern Travancore served as palmrya climbers on the lands of aristocratic Nadans in the eastern portion of Kanniyakumari. In the tradition of these Nadan families the lands were bestowed by the kings of Travancore in return for the Nadans' services.[12]

Distinctions within the Nadar community today[edit]

The Nadan families today still retain some aura of aristocracy and authority. However, the distinctions which separated them from the rest of the Nadar community are largely gone as their once dependent climbers have gained education and improved their status greatly.[13] The once Nadar climbers are today widely into education, business and other important fields.[1][4]

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Robert L. Hardgrave, Jr.(1969) The Nadars of Tamilnad; the political culture of a community in change. From year 1800 British records to 1968.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Robert L. Hardgrave, Jr.(1969) The Nadars of Tamilnad
  2. ^ The Colonial Church chronicle, and missionary journal. July 1847-Dec. 1874
  3. ^ The Dravidian lineages, a socio-historical study : the Nadars through the ages By Immanuel
  4. ^ a b [1] Gazetteers of India Tamil Nadu state: Thoothukudi district by Sinnakani: Copyrighted by the Government of Tamil Nadu,Commissioner of archives and Historical Research Page 234
  5. ^ Robert Hardgrave. The Nadars of Tamil Nadu. University of California Press. p. 29. 
  6. ^ Robert Hardgrave. The Nadars of Tamil Nadu. University of California Press. pp. 29–30. 
  7. ^ Robert Hardgrave. The Nadars of Tamil Nadu. University of California Press. p. 30. 
  8. ^ [2] Mān̳āḍu:a social-history of Mān̳avīra Vaḷanāḍu
  9. ^ [3] Gazetteers of India Tamil Nadu state: Thoothukudi district by Sinnakani: Copyrighted by the Government of Tamil Nadu,Commissioner of archives and Historical Research Page 240
  10. ^ Robert Hardgrave. The Nadars of Tamil Nadu. University of California Press. p. 31. 
  11. ^ In the Shadow of the Mahatma: Bishop vs Azariah and the Travails of Christianity in British India. By Susan Billington Harper
  12. ^ Robert Hardgrave. The Nadars of Tamil Nadu. University of California Press. p. 56. 
  13. ^ Robert Hardgrave. The Nadars of Tamil Nadu. University of California Press. p. 219.