User:Chola and sengunthars
Kaikolar is a Tamil caste in southern India. Kaikolars are also known as "Sengundar" which means a warrior or soldier with a Red Dagger. Kaikolars were chieftains, commander-in-chiefs, soldiers during the Medieval and Later Chola period. Kaikkolar army's Chief Lieutenant was called as a "Senaithalaivar". They served in the Chola's army as Therinja Kaikola Padai literally meant well known Kaikola battalion.
- 1 Origin
- 2 Post-Chola period
- 3 Community Legends and festivals
- 4 Gods/Goddesses
- 5 Kootam/Kulam
- 6 Kaikolar and marakanchi
- 7 The code of conduct by Kaikkolar warriors
- 8 Associations
- 9 Eminent Sengunthars
Sengunthar mythical origin is traced to the legend of the Earth being harassed by demons, which led to the people asking the God Shiva to help them. He was furious with the demonic giants and sent six sparks from his eyes. Parvati, his wife became frightened and retired to her chamber but dropped nine beads from her anklets. Shiva converted those beads into nine women, each giving birth to a hero, complete with "moustache and daggers." These nine led by Subramanya, with a large army destroyed the demons. Kaikolans or Sengundar claim descent from "Veerabahu Thevar".
After the decline of Later Cholas, Kaikkolar would not serve non-Tamil kings. So they took to weaving. Some claim that the word "Kaikolar" was coined from the words "kai" (Hand) and "kol" (Shuttle used in looming or spear (eetti or vel). They consider the different parts of the loom to represent various Gods and Sages.
Community Legends and festivals
The "Sura Samhara" festival is a ritual tradition practiced by the Kaikolars/Senaithalaivar/Sengundar to sustain the myth of the divine origin of the weavers. According to the mythology of weaver community, the Kaikolars weavers were born out of nine gems that were scattered from Parvati's anklet. At the Sura Samhara festival, they dress up as the nine warriors of "Virabahu thevar", the lieutenant of Lord Karthikeya and enact the killing of the demon Narakasura.
Kootam defines birth from a single male ancestor. Kootam is transferred patrilineally i.e., via the father of a person. Hence people belonging to the same kootam are considered brothers and sisters. So marriage between a male and female belonging to the same kootam is prohibited however distantly they may be related.
Historically there were 72 kootams in Kaikolar. Each kootam had a leader. The head leader in Kanchipuram was the head for all these leaders. This was used to manage disputes within the community.
Nowadays, the kootams have merged into one another and there is no well defined leader for each kootam. It is used only for setting up marriage alliances.
Kaikolar and marakanchi
Kaikkolar held to a code of conduct requiring suicide when the king is slain in war. There are numerous stone carvings and savan kallu as evidence stating this. Senchotrukadan, Navakandam, Marakanchi, and one of the Savankallu are evidence of this in Cheyyar near Kanchipuram.
The code of conduct by Kaikkolar warriors
Avippali, Thannai, Verttal, Vallan pakkam, Pun Kilithu Mudiyum Maram and Marakkanchi: the forms of martial suicide and suicidal battle of the warrior as the ultimate expression of his loyalty to his commander. These six forms of martial suicide are defined as described by the works referred to above.
Pulla Vazhkai Vallan Pakkam – the martial attitude of the warrior who goes forth into suicidal battle is mentioned by Tholkappiyam. The other works refer to it as Thannai Verttal. Duarte Barbosa describes the practice among the Nayar (of the Chera kingdom). It was later noticed by British officials as well. It was also prevalent among the Maravar (of the Pandya kingdom) from whom the suicidal Aapathuthavi bodyguard was selected. Thannai Verttal also refers to the suicide of a warrior on hearing that his king or commander has died (Purapporul Venpa Malai). Punkilithu Mudiym Maram is the martial act of a warrior who commits suicide by tearing apart his battle wound.
Another form of martial suicide mentioned by all the works except Veera Soliyam, is Avippali. Tamil inscriptions speak of it as Navakandam. Inscriptions found in many parts of Tamil Nadu provide greater information on the practice. Navakandam is the act of a warrior who slices his own neck to fulfil the vow made to Korravai – the Tamil goddess of war – for his commanders’ victory in battle. The Kalingathu Parani, a work which celebrates the victory of the Chola King Kulotunga and General Thondaman in the Battle for Kalinga, describes the practice in detail. “The temple of Korravai is decorated with lotus flowers which bloomed when the warriors sliced their own necks”; “they slice the base of their necks; the severed heads are given to the goddess”; “when the neck is sliced and the head is severed, the headless body jumps with joy for having fulfilled the vow”.
The epics of Chilapadikaram (5: 79-86) and Manimekalai (6: 50-51) mention the practice. To ensure the complete severing of the head, the warrior tied his hair to a bamboo bent taut before he cut his neck. Hero stones depicting this practice are found all over Tamil Nadu, and are called Saavan Kallu by locals. The warriors who thus committed suicide were not only deified in hero stones (saavan kallu) and worshipped but their relatives were given lands which were exempted from tax.
An area handbook (Tharamangalam) of the Tamilnadu archeology department notes that “the Nava Kandam sculpture which is found widely all over Kongu Nadu is to be seen at the Tharamangalam Kailasanathar kovil also. The people call it Saavan Kallu. “The practice of Nava Kandam existed in Kongu Nadu till the early part of this [i.e., 20th] century.”
A Saavan Kallu at Thenkarai Moolanatha sami Kovil in Madurai, depicting the act of a warrior holding his hair with his left hand and slicing his neck with his right – 14th century – is said to be annually worshipped by Sengunthars. There are indications that Kaikolar warriors practiced Nava Kandam(14).
Apart from these codified forms of martial suicide, a method called Vadakkiruththal is mentioned in Tamil heroic poetry. It is the act of a warrior king fasting to death, if some dire dishonour were to come upon him(15). The Tamil teacher, and the Dravidian propagandist, turned the song of the legendary Chera King Irumborai who committed suicide when he was taken captive by his enemies into a compelling theme in Tamil renaissance.
The Avippali form of martial suicide as the ultimate expression of loyalty to one’s commander, is deeply embedded in the Tamil psyche. Senchorru-kadan (the debt of red rice) is a phrase that is widely used today by Tamils as an expression of loyalty. One frequently hears of it in a popular Tamil song. The phrase sands for the ritual of partaking of rice by which Tamil warriors bound themselves to their king or commander to die in suicidal battle for him, or to commit suicide on the day he was slain. Of Avippali, the Puraporul Venba Malai ([verse] 92) says, “thinking of nothing but the red (blood) rice the Maravar give their life as offering in battle.”
There are many associations for Sengunthars.Some of them are:
Socio Economic Service Society (SES) in Nungambakkam - Chennai.
Sengunthar Mahajana Sangam.