Introduction / History
Vanniyan people claim to be descendants of medieval kings who ruled Andhra Pradesh and north Tamil Nadu. Today they have been named a scheduled backward caste in order to gain more government benefits.
What Are Their Lives Like?
There are a number of Vanniyan subgroups including the Agnikula. They speak, read and write in Tamil. Most live in Tamil Nadu, but some live in nearby states.
Agriculture is their main work. Some have a college education and work in business, trade and industry. The Agnikula Vanniyan prefer cross-cousin marriages. They allow for divorce and remarriage. On the death of the father, sons inherit the property with the oldest son taking charge of the family estate. They have birth and marriage rituals. They cremate their dead. Caste associations look after the needs of the Agnikula Vanniyan people.
What Are Their Beliefs?
The Agnikula Vanniyan people practice Hinduism, the ancient religion of India. Hinduism is a catch-all phrase for the local religions of South Asia, so it is very diverse. At the popular level, Hindus worship and serve the gods of the Hindu pantheon. They visit Hindu temples and offer prayers, food, flowers, and incense to their gods in hopes of gaining protection and benefits. They do not have a personal or familial relationship with their gods like Christians or Jews. There are other Hindus who are much more philosophical, especially among the Brahmins.
What Are Their Needs?
Almost all Hindus participate in yearly celebrations like Holi, the festival of colors and the start of spring / Diwali, the festival of lights / Navratri, the celebration of autumn / and Rama Navami, Rama's birthday.
The Agnikula Vanniyan need good schools for their children. Rural Vanniyan need help in gaining access to modern medicine, electricity and indoor plumbing. Most of all, the Agnikula Vanniyan need to hear and understand the message of Jesus Christ who alone can forgive their sins and give them lasting peace of mind.
Pray that the leaders of the Agnikula Vanniyan caste associations come to Jesus Christ and lead others to put their faith in him.
Pray that gospel materials will lead them to start fruitful home Bible studies.
Pray for spiritual hunger and discernment that will lead them to the cross and the empty grave.
Pray for long term workers to go to them until there are disciples who make more disciples.
Scripture Prayers for the Vanniyan Agnikula in India.
Singh, K. S., ed. "India's Communities A-Z", Oxford University Press, USA 1999