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Pillai, Pillay,or Pillaimar is an upper caste title used by land-owning castes of Tamil- and Malayalam-speaking people of India, Sri Lanka and others living in Singapore, Malaysia, South Africa and Fiji, mostly from the Vellalar , Yadava community in Tamil Nadu, Sri Lanka and Nair community in Kerala.
South African Tamils use the spelling Pillay, whereas some Sri Lankan castes may also uses same title.
|Regions with significant populations|
|Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Sri Lanka|
|Related ethnic groups|
|Vellalars, Mudaliars, Kongu Vellalars, Elur Chettys,Nagarathars Nairs|
History of the title
Vellalar is derived from Tamil word 'Velanmai' means agriculture. Those who practice agriculture i.e. 'வேளாண்மை'- Velanmai' in Tamil are called 'வேளாளர்' -Vellalar. Prominent members of Vellalars also hold title 'Vel'.
They are predominantly landlords and agriculturalists and In modern time most of them concentrate on business and trading also.
Vellalars are described as a landed gentry who irrigated the wet lands and the Karalar were the landed gentry in the dry lands.
Numerous poems in the ancient Sangam literature extol these chieftains' charity and truthfulness. Among the most prominent were those known as the 'seven patrons' (kadaiyezhu vallal); Vel-Pari, Malayaman Thirumudi Kaari, Ori, Adigaman, Began, Nalli and Ay Kandiran.
In modern times they entered in various fields.They also influential in the revival of Tamil tradition and literature.
Surname used by
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Vellalars sub castes are formed according to their geographical presence of ancient Tamil Nadu.Following Vellalars sub castes using 'Pillai' surname are Karkathars, Sozhliya Vellalars, Pandiya Vellalars, Aarunattu Vellalars, Veerakodi Vellalars, Nanjil vellalars.
'Vellala Pillaimar' Distribution in Tamil nadu
Vellala pillaimar predominantly residing in Cauvery Delta regions and in southern Tamil Nadu.
- Saiva Vellalars
- Tirunelveli and Thanjavur Saiva vellalars are karkathars uses 'Pillai' surname. Thondaimandala saiva vellalars use 'Mudaliar' surname. They are vegetarians and classified as Forward caste.
- Saiva vellalars are also closely related with Desigars play an important role as head of various Saiva mutts, These Adheenams, helps to promote various social and cultural activities and supervises many famous temples present in Tamil Nadu.
- Nanjil Vellalars are from Kanyakumari district .They predominantly residing in Thovalai, Agastheewaram areas .
- Nangudi Vallalar are predominantly from Tirunelveli and Tuticorin
- Pandiya Vellalars are hailing from Madurai, Theni, Dindugul districts.
- Sozhliya Vellalars are predominantly from Cauvery delta region Trichy, Thanjavur, Tiruvarur, Nagapattinam districts and in East Salem areas.
- Karkathars significantly hailed from Mayiladuthurai, Chidambaram, Kumbakonam areas.
- Aarunattu vellalars (Vellalars residing in six countries i.e. today six taluks ) predominantly present in Thuraiyur, Uraiyur, Manachanallur areas in Trichy district.
- Veerakodi Vellalar is a sub-caste of the Vellalar community with a significant proportion of population residing around Pattukottai in Thanjavur district. Collectively termed as Musugundha Nadu, named after the legendary early Chola king Musugundhan. Veerakodi Vellalar are also known as Musugundha Vellalar. Veerakodi Vellalars present other than Pattukottai are in few areas of Tiruvanamalai, Ramanathapuram districts.
- Karaikattu vellalars similar to Karkathars residing in Ramanathapuram, Virudhunagar,Sivagangai Districts.They are classified as Forward caste.
- Gotra system: Each Vellalar sub castes have their own gotra system . Predominantly they belong to Siva gotra because they are followers of saivism.
- karuneegar are well educated from earlier generations.Mostly employed as accountants present in Kanchipuram,cudalore,villupuram districts.They are vegetarians. They are called as karnam in chittor district of Andhra Pradesh.
- Isai vellalars from musical heritage Pioneers in carnatic music, Bharathanatyam, Musical instrument belonged to Tamil heritage nadaswaram, mirudangam. The Tamil Trinity (also known as the Tamil Moovar) commonly refers to the three Tamil composers of early Carnatic music. Muthu Thandavar Arunachala Kavi and Marimutthu Pillai .Promintent members of isai vellalar started using 'Pillai' surname.
- lllathupillaimar, Nairs from kerala also uses the 'Pillai' surname.
Notable people named Pillai
- A. R. Pillai, Indian freedom fighter
- Ananda Ranga Pillai (1709–61), dubash in the service of French East India Company
- Ariranga Pillay (born 1945), former Chief Justice and briefly Acting President of Mauritius
- Arumuka Navalar, born as Kandar Arumugam Pillai, Hindu reformer
- B. Ravi Pillai is an Indian entrepreneur. He is the founder and managing director of RP Group of Companies.
- Candice Pillay, born 1981, singer and songwriter
- Chempakaraman Pillai (1891–1934), freedom fighter from Travancore of Tamil descent
- Changampuzha Krishna Pillai, Malayalam poet
- Devasahayam Pillai (1712–52), Indian court official, controversial convert to Christianity
- Dhanraj Pillay (born 1968), Indian hockey player
- G. P. Pillai, barrister, established the first English newspaper in South India
- G. Parameswaran Pillai (1890–1963), Dewan of Travancore
- Gooty Kesava Pillai (1860–1933), Indian journalist and freedom-fighter. Delegate from Anantapur, Andhra Pradesh at the first session of the Indian National Congress.
- K. C. Pillai, Doctor of Divinity, (1900–70) a Bishop-at-large of the Indian Orthodox Church, Antiochean Succession, Chennai (Madras), India.
- K. C. Sreedharan Pillai (1920–85), Indian mathematician
- K. Perumal Pillai
- K. Thamboosamy Pillay (1850–1902), a prominent member of the Tamil community in British Malaya.
- Kavimani Desigavinayagam Pillai, Indian freedom fighter, poet
- L. D. Swamikannu Pillai, Indian astronomer, Speaker of Tamil Nadu Assembly
- M. P. Narayana Pillai, a Malayalam writer
- Manonmaniam Sundaram Pillai, eminent writer in Tamil literature; his poem "Niraarum Kadal Udutha" is the official Tamil Anthem
- Maraimalai Adigal (Nagai Vedachalam Pillai) eminent Tamil orator and writer started Pure Tamil movement Tanittamil Iyakkam.
- Marimutthu Pillai, musician
- Maruthanayagam Pillai (1725–64), Indian soldier and administrator also known as Muhammed Yusuf Khan.
- Nadakkal Parameswaran Pillai (born 1931), leader of Indian Coffee House movement
- Naraina Pillai, a social entrepreneur and businessman
- Navanethem Pillay, South African Judge, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
- Nisha Pillai, Indian-born journalist and BBC news anchor
- P. Govinda Pillai, a Communist Party of India leader
- Palani Subramaniam Pillai (1908–62), Carnatic music percussionist
- Paravoor T. K. Narayana Pillai (1890–1971), Indian freedom fighter
- Pattom A. Thanu Pillai (1885–1970), Second Chief Minister of unified KeralP. Jeevanandham,Communist Leader
- Pradani Muthirulappa Pillai, minister of Ramnad during the reign of Muthuramalinga Sethupathy
- R. Balakrishna Pillai (born 1935), former State minister in Kerala
- Rajmohan Pillai (born 1964), Indian businessman
- Rao Bahadur P. I. Chinnaswamy Pillai, first Municipal Chairman of Palakkad, Kerala, India
- Rhea Pillai, Indian model
- Sreekanteswaram Padmanabha Pillai, lexicographer
- Subbayya Sivasankaranarayana Pillai (1901–50), Indian mathematician
- Swadeshabhimani Ramakrishna Pillai, journalist and political activist. Translated Karl Marx's biography into Malayalam
- T. S. Ramasamy Pillai (1918–2006), Freedom-fighter, politician and former Member of the Legislative Assembly (India)
- Thakazhi Sivasankara Pillai (1912–99), Malayalam author
- V. N. Rajasekharan Pillai, current Vice Chancellor of Indira Gandhi National Open University IGNOU
- V. O. Chidambaram Pillai (1872–1936), Indian freedom fighter, popularly known as V.O.C. and as Kappalottiya Tamilan
- Venkatarama Ramalingam Pillai, (AKA Namakkal Kavignar Ramalingam Pillai) poet and freedom fighter.
- Kapoor, Subodh (2008). The Indian Encyclopaedia: India (Central Provinces)-Indology. Indian Central Province. p. 3254.
- S, Jayapal (2008). Yadava Dialect of Tamil. Annamalai university. p. 7.
- Thurston, Edgar; Rangachari, K. (1909). Castes and Tribes of Southern India. VI (P to S). Madras: Government Press. p. 198. Retrieved 2014-03-26.
- "History". உலகத் தமிழ் யாதவர் பேரவை. 2009-08-05. Retrieved 2016-06-06.
- Weiss, Richard (2008). Divorcing Ayurveda: Siddha Medicine and the Quest for Uniqueness. State University of New York.
- Nairs Academy of Information Research and Services
- A Pillai Who's Who, saivaneri.org
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