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Senai Mudaliar
Religions Hinduism
Languages Tamil
Region Indian state of Tamil Nadu, Union Territory of Puducherry
Related groups Sengunthar, Vellalar

Senaithalaivar is a Tamil-speaking caste mainly from south and central Tamil Nadu. They are also known by the names Senaikudiyar, Senai Mudaliar and Ilaivaniar.Senaithalaivar were of the noble and aristocratic having served in Chola dynasty as commanders.


Senaithalaivar/Senathipathi means commander-in-chief as they were the commander-in-chief of army groups in Chola military. Ilaivaniar means leaf seller as few of their sub-sects were occupied for betel-leaf selling in the past.[citation needed]

Senaithalaivar were Chieftains and Commander-in-chiefs of Later chozhas. Senaithalaivar Commander-in-chiefs were known as Samanta Senapathigal[1][2] or Senaithalaivar.[3][4][5]

Sura samharam[edit]

The Sura Samharam festival is a traditional ritual where Senaithalavars dress as the lieutenants of Karthikeya and re-enact the killing of the demon Surabathman.

Vaishnava Tradition[edit]

In vaishnavism, Senai mudaliar is very important for starting any religious ceremonies to Lord Vishnu. Sri Vishvaksena (Senai mudaliar/Senai thalaivar) is the commander-in-chief of the army of the Hindu god Vishnu. In Sri vaishnava tradition Vishvaksena occupies the third place - Lord Vishnu, Lakshmi and Sri Vishvaksena. Thiruvallur Sri Veeraraghava Perumal temple has a separate small shrine for Sri Vishvaksena (Senai nathan) and believed that he always removes obstacles in performing our duties.

Both Veerabahu and Vishvaksena are the supreme commander-in-chief for the military force of Sri Subramanya Swamy and Lord Vishnu, descendents of them are called as Senai thalaivar and Senai Mudaliar in Tamilnadu.

Literary evidence[edit]

Adhi Diwakaram[edit]

The earliest literary evidence about Senaithalaivar occurs in Adhi Diwakaram, a Tamil lexicon written by Sendan Diwakarar. This dictionary dated 8th-9th century AD[6] says செங்குந்தப் படையார் சேனைத் தலைவர் தந்து வாயர் காருகர் கைக்கோளர்.[7] It meant the profession of Senaithalaivar (commander-in-chief)


Senaithalaivar being the commander-in-chiefs of lord muruga were referred to as Samantha Senapathigal.[8][9][10]


Senaithalaivar common title is Senaiyar and they are mainly populated in Tirunelveli District, including places like Tenmali.[11]

Wedding customs[edit]

Wedding process is based on Tamil culture. Use of mangalyam or manjal thaali kayiru tied around the girls neck loosely with three knots by the boy in the presence of friends and relatives. Divine music by Nadaswaram and Thavil are performed live.[citation needed]

Family Deity[edit]

Like any other Tamil caste, each family of the caste has their own kula deivam either male or female.But for every people who belongs to Senaithalaivar their only Kula Deivam is Lord Muruga(Skanda) Intermarriage between families having the same family deity does not happen in the community.[citation needed]

Writing on the caste[edit]

  • Senaithalaivar Marabu Vilakkam by Mahavidwan Kanchi Sabapathy
  • Senaithalaivar Sempotralai by Naganandhiyar
  • Velaanmanthar Senaithalaivar or Senaikudaiyar Poorva Charithram by Gopal
  • Senaithalaivar Kula Varalaru by Dakshinamurthy

Society and caste organisation[edit]

They are included in the Tamil Nadu state's list of Backward castes.[12]

The Madras Presidency Senaithalaivar Mahajana Sangam was formed on 23/6/1912 by K.C. Subramania, Pattukottai Siva. MA. Narayanasamy, Thillayadi Tamil Scholar Thambiyappa and Kollam D.P. They have their own in-house magazine called Senaiyar Murasu published monthly. The first state level Mahanadu was held at Mylam, near Pondicherry on 9 June 1913.[citation needed]


External links[edit]