Tirunelveli Saiva Pillai

Tirunelveli Saiva Pillai

Tirunelveli Saiva Pillai or Saiva Pillai is a caste from Tirunelveli District of the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. They are a sub-caste of Saiva Vellalar. They have been the original land lords of South Pandya Country and their major source of income used to come from agriculture. They have also held all major local positions of power, whether Ministers or Commanders of Pandyas and later Poligars / Zamindars as well as rural administration like Accountants (Kanakku Pillai), Village Judge (Munshief) and Village Headman (Pannaiyar OR Nattamai).


Religion and habit

They are staunch worshippers of Shiva and hence got the prefix Saiva. The Saiva Vellalars are strictly vegetarians. People of the community are considered very much conservative. A very few of them were converted during the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries to Christianity and retained the caste name 'Saiva Pillai'. These converts remained vegetarian and apart from not practising Hinduism, this sub-section observed every other 'Saiva Pillai' practise such as caste superiority.


Tirunelveli Saiva Pillai's are spread all over Tamil Nadu and Kerala states of India; Within Tamil Nadu, their concentration is more in Chennai, Tirunelveli, Tuticorin, Kanyakumari, Madurai, Theni and Dindigul districts. They have also migrated to a large level in Sri Lanka in previous centuries and to USA and UK in the last century.

Tirunelveli Saiva Pillai Settlements

  1. Tirunelveli
  2. Thoothukudi
  3. Tenkasi
  4. Ilanji
  5. Thisayanvilai
  6. Udangudi
  7. Valliyoor
  8. Panagudi
  9. Radhapuram
  10. Aralvaimozhi
  11. Thovalai
  12. Ambasamudram
  13. Tiruchendur
  14. Kulasekaran Pattinam
  15. Sengottai
  16. Karanthaneri

Notable people

  • T. N. Sivagnanam Pillai (1861–1936), Indian politician of the Justice Party. Minister of Development (1923–26)
  • Navaneethakrishnan, Folk dancer, Singer
  • Nellai Kannan, Orator
  • Suki Sivam
  • Vijayalakshmi
  • Ragavendran.S [Best manager]


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