Vellalan Virakodi in India

Vellalan Virakodi
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Map Source:  People Group data: Omid. Map geography: UNESCO / GMI. Map Design: Joshua Project
People Name: Vellalan Virakodi
Country: India
10/40 Window: Yes
Population: 139,000
World Population: 139,000
Primary Language: Tamil
Primary Religion: Hinduism
Christian Adherents: 0.79 %
Evangelicals: 0.00 %
Scripture: Complete Bible
Online Audio NT: Yes
Jesus Film: Yes
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: South Asia Forward Caste - other
Affinity Bloc: South Asian Peoples
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

The Vellalar or Vellalan people of South India have a long and distinguished history. They served as the landed aristocracy, military officers and court officials in three great Tamil dynasties. They were patrons of Tamil literature and the arts. The Vellalar made up the majority of government leaders and administrators in South India during the British Raj period. Lower castes began calling themselves Vellalar and acting like them in order to gain their high status.

The main language of the Vellalan is Tamil. They also speak other South Indian regional languages. A complete Bible and many Christian resources are available in Tamil. Most Vellalan are college educated and speak English which allows them to communicate with other educated people from all over India.

What Are Their Lives Like?

Today the Virakodi Vellalans continue to be landowners, military officers, businesspersons, Tamil scholars, and Hindu temple patrons. They live at the highest levels of south Indian society. They take pride in their ancient Tamil heritage and are leading scholars in Tamil historical studies. The Virakodi Vellalan encourage their children to attend universities and gain graduate degrees.

The Virakodi Vellalars are endogamous, that is they marry within their families and clans. Vellalars often marry their cousins. Sons inherit property from their parents. Most prefer to use their own priests rather than Brahmins in important life ceremonies.

What Are Their Beliefs?

As far as we know all Virakodi Vellalan are Hindus. There are many forms of Hinduism, each with its own deities and beliefs. The Virakodi Vellalan people worship and serve the gods of the Hindu pantheon. Many Vellalan people follow a branch of Hinduism called Saiva Siddhantam. In this Hindu order adherents desire to be enlightened by Lord Shiva or Siva, one of the three main gods of Hinduism. Some Vellalan join monasteries and propagate the teachings of Shiva. Hindus believe that by performing rituals and good works that they will attain moksha or freedom from the endless cycle of birth, death and rebirth. The Virakodi Vellalan visit Hindu temples and offer prayers, food, flowers, and incense to their gods.

The main yearly holidays of the Vellalan people are Holi, the festival of colors, Diwali, the festival of lights, Navratri, the celebration of autumn, and Rama Navami, Rama's birthday.

What Are Their Needs?

The Virakodi Vellalan need to hear the life-changing message of Jesus Christ in a way they can understand. They need to see themselves as sinners in need of the only savior. They need to see Christianity lived out in a real way before them.

Prayer Points

Pray that Vellalan leaders will come to Jesus Christ and lead others to him.

Pray for entire Vellalan families to decide to follow Jesus no matter what the cost.

Pray for loving missionaries and Indian believers to take Christ to every Vellalan community.

Pray that Vellalan are led by the Spirit to read the Tamil Bible and to tune into Tamil radio programs.

Text Source:   Joshua Project