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Article: Informations about Paraiyar
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ParaiyarParaiyar or Parayar (in the past, anglicised as Pariah)Clayton & Karunakarara (2004) , p. 53. is a caste group found in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu and Kerala. In Tamil Nadu though they have been enumerated under three different cast names as Paraiyan, Samban and Adi Dravida, they have generally been referred to as Paraiyar. In northern Tamil Nadu they are known as Paraiyar, in southern Tamil Nadu they are known as Samban. Paraiyan and samban are synonymous with Adi Dravida.The Indian census of 2001 reported that in Tamil Nadu the Adi Dravida population was about 5,402,755 and the Paraiyan population as 1,860,519.
ParaiyarRobert Caldwell conjectured that the Paraiyar or Paraiyan name was derived from the Tamil word Parai (a drum) because some members of the community act as drummers at marriages, funerals, village festivals, and on occasions when Government or commercial announcements are proclaimed. Whereas later, in the 1891 Madras Census Report, it is recorded that "it is only one section of Paraiyars that act as drummers, nor is the occupation confined to the Paraiyars. It seems in the highest degree improbable that a large, and at one time powerful, community should owe its name to an occasional occupation, which one of its divisions shares with other castes." the census report further notes that the word was unknown in old works such as the Divakaram Tamil dictionary of the 11th century AD.Thurston (1909), Vol. VI, p. 77. This claim was at least in part contradicted by the Census Report for 1901, which refers to an inscription of the Chola king Raja Raja of around the eleventh century in which the Paraiyar caste is called by its name. Gustav Salomon Oppert was another who thought that the derivation from Parai was unlikely. He argued that it was a "weak foundation" and that the name was "most probably an afterthought, the more easily explicable since the lower classes delighted in the noise of the drum, and the name of the drum-beating class was transferred to the instrument by which the Pariah made his presence known." He thought the name to be "intimately connected" with the names of other communities such as the Paravars, Paradas, Bhars and Mhars.Oppert (1893), p. 32.
PariahThe name Pariah became famous as the Paraiyars were considered typical of the depressed castes in India. The mistaken use of the term Pariah as being applicable to the whole of the lowest castes, or even to out-castes, became generally known in Europe during the last quarter of the 18th century. The natives of India never designate the lower castes of other parts of the country as Pariahs.James Hastings (2003), Vol. 18, p.636.
HistoryAn eleventh century A.D. inscription states paraiyars had two sub-divisions, the Nesavu or weavers, and Ulavu or ploughmen and this caste had its own hamlets, wells and burning-grounds.Thurston (1909), Vol. VI, pp. 82-83. One sub-group of Paraiyars â the Valluvans â were renowned as magicians, astrologers and were priests to the Pallava kings.A Vatteluttu inscription of the ninth century A.D., states that "Sri Valluvam Puvanavan, the Uvacchan (or temple ministrant), will employ six men daily, and do the temple service." The inference is that the Valluvan was a man of recognised priestly rank, and of great influence. The prefix Sri is a notable honorific. By itself this inscription would prove little, but the whole legendary history of the greatest of all Tamil poets, Tiruvalluvar, " the holy Valluvan," confirms all that can be deduced from it. A.C.Clayton states that there were no legend or belief among Paraiyars that they have come from any other part of the country, however without quoting his source, says that âthere is some evidence that they had a long past and one in which they had independence, and possibly great importance in the peninsula(India)â.Thurston (1909), Vol. VI, pp. 81-82.Caldwell says that, There were various errors respecting the origin of the Pareiyas and their position as low-caste, as they were numerous in Madras presidency and were the majority of the domestic servants than other similar class, frequently brought into contact with EuropeansCaldwell (1875), p. 543. and Anglo-Indians who were not acquainted with the vernacular languages, often designated Pareiyas as outcasts, who were without caste, or who have no caste to lose.Caldwell (1875), p. 545.and writes that Jean-Antoine Dubois writes:Caldwell states that and that Clayton notes that there is some evidence that paraiyars held a much higher position than, when he was writing in 1909,Thurston (1909), Vol. VI, p. 82. and also states that Some of their privileges, duties and facts seem to be survivals of a past,could have never attained from orthodox Hinduism. Some scholars presume that Paraiyars must have been followers of Buddhism, constituted the original population and after the invasion by Brahmanical conquerors, they lost their culture, religion, wealth and status in the society and become destitute.Bergunder (2004), pp. 67 - 72.The writers Thiruvalluvar and Auvaiyar, as well as the architect of Hastinapur, were all Paraiyars.Irschick (1994), p. 177.
(Irschick (1994), p. 177.)
Paraiyar and Brahmin connection legendsIn a note on the Paraiyans in the Gazetteer of Trichinoply District, it written as follows.In the Census report of 1891, it is mentioned that A.C. Clayton records that The following extract is taken from a note on the Paraiyans of Travancore.Thurston (1909), Vol. VI, pp. 84-85.A subdivision of Tamil Brahmans as Madyana Paraiyans.and
Right-hand caste factionParaiyars belong to the Valangai ("Right-hand caste faction"). Some of them assume the title Valangamattan ("people of the right-hand division").Thurston (1909), Vol. VI, pp. 81, 91. The Valangai comprised castes with an agricultural basis while the Idangai consisted of castes involved in manufacturing. Valangai, which was better organized politically,Caste Ideology and Interaction, Pg 105 J.A. Dubois on Valangai writes "The Paraiyars are its chief support, as a proof of which they glory in the title âValangai-Mougattarâ, or friends of the Right-hand".Dubois (1899), p. 25.Caldwell states that "In the insane dispute about pre-eminence, which is always being carried on in Southern India between the 'right hand' and the 'left hand' castes, the Pareiyas (Paraiyars) range themselves on the right hand."Caldwell (1875), p. 546.
British colonial eraIn the second half of the 19th century, there were frequent descriptions of the Paraiyars in official documents and reformist tracts as being "disinherited sons of the earth".Irschick (1994), pp 153â190.Bergunder (2004), p. 68. The first reference to the idea may be that written by Francis Whyte Ellis in 1818, where he writes that the Paraiyars "affect to consider themselves as the real proprietors of the soilâ. In 1894, William Goudie, a Weslyan missionary, said that the Paraiyars are self-evidently the "disinherited children of the soil".Clayton noted that Paraiyars were then often employed as domestic servants by Europeans and that the Christian Paraiyars had become a "Native Christian" caste, and achieved University honours, the wearing of the surplice, and the rod of the pedagogue,Thurston (1909), Vol. VI, pp. 114. and a number of them emigrated to Ceylon, Mauritius, South Africa, the West Indies, the Straits Settlements, and to Fiji.Thurston (1909), Vol. VI, pp. 89.
Paraiyars in Sakya Buddha Society and Theosophical SocietyIyothee Thass, a Siddha doctor by occupation, belonged to a Paraiyar elite. In 1898, Thass and a large number of his followersconverted to Buddhism and founded the Sakya Buddha Society (cÄkkaiya putta caá¹ kam) with the influential mediation of Henry Steel Olcott of the Theosophical Society. Olcott subsequently and greatly supported the Tamil Paraiyar Buddhists.Bergunder (2004), p. 67.
Adidravida Jana Sabha and the term AdidravidaThe Parayar Mahajana Sabha was founded by Rettamalai Srinivasan in 1892 and in 1895 Thass founded the âPeopleâs Assembly of Urdravidiansâ (Adidravida Jana Sabha) in Madras. Michael Bergunder states that, it was the circles around Iyothee Thass claimed the description Urdravidian or Adidravidan, still a common synonym for Paraiyars in South India and Iyothee Thass Was the first to introduce the concept of Adidravida into political discussion and in the 1920s and 1930s E.V.Ramasami ensured the wide dissemination of this term.Bergunder (2004), p. 69.
Legendary poet & poetess
* Thiruvalluvar, poetIrschick (2001), p. 177.
* Auvaiyar, poet
Religious and spiritual leaders
* Nandanar Saivite saint, One of the 63 NayanmarThurston (1909), Vol. VI, p. 78.
* Poikayil Yohannan, rejected Christianity and Hinduism to found the Prathyaksha Raksha Daiva Sabha
Social reformers and activists
* Iyothee Thass Pandithar (1845â1914), founded the Sakya Buddhist Society (also known as Indian Buddhist Association)
* Rettamalai Srinivasan (1860â1945), a Dalit activist, politician from the Indian state of Tamil Nadu.
* Thol. Thirumavalavan, Member of the Parliament and the President of the Viduthalai Chiruthaigal political party.
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Category: Social groups of Kerala
Category: Kerala society
Category: Tamil society
Category: Sri Lankan Tamil society
Category: Dalit communities
Category: Social groups of Tamil Nadu
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