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Vanniyar (), refers to a very large social group of people spread all across South India. Vanniakula Kshatriyas are a feudal caste and primarily live in modern Tamil Nadu where they speak Tamil, while in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Kerala they speak their native South Indian Dravidian languages namely, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam respectively.

An important cultivating caste which can trace its history to a hoary past is Palli (Vanniyars) which is said to denote their Pallava origin. They claimed their descent from solar and lunar race.


The name Vanniyar is derived from the Tamil word Vanior Vanni (Vahni or Agni in Sanskrit) which means fire. It also means Valour or Strength.

At Sirkazhi Vaideeswaran Temple, Inscriptions about Vanniyar Puranam are observed. It denotes that at ancient times there were two Asuras known as Vatapi and Mahi, who worshipped Brahma and obtained immunity from death and subsequently they garrisoned the Earth. At the request of Gods and Lords, Jambuva Mahamuni or Sambu/Jambu Maharishi performed a Yagam, or sacrifice by his yogic powers. Soon armed horsemen sprung from the flames, named VanniRaya; they undertook twelve expeditions and destroyed the Asuras and freed the Earth. Their leader then assumed the government of...
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