Wednesday, 26 June 2013

The Paravars


Conversion of the Paravars by Francis Xavier in 1542. During the visit of Francis Xavier the Paravars were using two different types of boat for net fishing, which he called the vallam and the toni

The Paravars are one of the ancient tribes which can still be found in Tamil Nadu. They are numerous in areas close to the sea. We can find them in the coastal regions of Ramanathapuram, Toothukudi (Tuticorin) and Kanyakumari districts.

Works in the Tamil Sangam literature which refer to the lives of the Paravars include Ettuthokai, Pathupaattu, Ahananuru, Maduraikkanci and Pattinappaalai.

Paravars are also known as Parathavar or Bharathar. They are believed to be related to my clan, the Maravars. The Maravars lived in the palai (desert) region of the country and the Paravars lived in the neythal (coast) region. (More research should be done to verify if the Maravars and Paravars are related)

Paravars used to be involved in the pearl trade during the era of the Pandyan kings. As coastal people, they were deeply involved with the sea. The Portuguese called the area where the Paravars lived as Costa da Pescaria, the Land of the Pearls.

Tamil comedian Chandrababu (1927-1974), born as Joseph Panimayadas Rodriquez.

Simon Casie Chitty grouped the Paravar occupations in 1834 into thirteen categories, these being: headmen, cloth dealers, coral divers, sailors, pearl divers, chank divers, cloth packers, turtle fishers, porpoise fishers, fishers for shark and other species, palanquin bearers, peons and crab fishers.

The Ceylon Gazetter by Simon Casie Chitty. Published by Cotta Church Mission Press, 1834.

The Paravars know the sea better than the other Tamil tribes and they have exceptionally good navigational skills. It will be not be surprising if the Paravars were the backbone of the ancient Tamil navy!


Our Lady of Snows Shrine Basilica(Snows Basilica) at Tuticorin, was built during 16th  century in the Portuguese architecture. In 1542 St. Francis Xavier visited the shrine (Tuticorin) to catechize the paravars, the indigenous people of the Pearl Fishery Coast, and to strengthen them in Christian faith.

The Paravars are among the earliest tribes to be converted into Christianity. According to historical sources, Muslim merchants like the Maraikayars began to control the pearl trade. Furthermore, there were many infighting among the kings and chieftains 500 years ago. The Paravars main source of income was at stake.

This gave the Portugese a golden opportunity to spread Christianity and also take control. They made a deal with the Paravars.


"Convert to Christianity, become subjects of Portugal. We will protect you from the Muslims"

By the end of the 16th century, almost every Paravar became a Christian. The Paravars who embraced Christianity were given the surnames of the missionaries. This is still being used till today.

Among the surnames used by the Paravar Christians are Fernando, Fernandez, Motha, Mascarenhas, Victoria, Miranda, Devotta, De Cruz, De Souza, Gomez, Dalmeida, Vaz, Desoyza, Rodrigo, Pereira and Rodriguez.

Augustine Pereira, son of Ignatius Xavier Pereira and Maria Michelammal was born on 11th February 1854 at Tuticorin. He was the Founder of congregation of  Immaculate Conception.

I am sure most of you would have a Tamil Christian friend in Malaysia with one of these surnames. Fernando and Pereira is quite common. These people are probably descendants of the ancient Paravars who converted 500 years ago.

Like the rest among the global Tamil diaspora, the modern Paravars can be found all over the globe.
- Comments

45 comments:

  1. Hello Sharmalan! I am really happy to see my clan's history in your blog. Thank you for your interest. - Camilo Fernando from the Netherlands

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    1. superb blog,paravar also in kerala,karnataka.time to unite

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    2. Hai Camilo nice to read my clan's are also in Netherlands

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    3. Yes Brother Terence Kishore, by the grace of God, We are doing well here and many other countries around the globe! Thirai Kadal Odi Thiraviyam Thedu ! :) Most of our relatives have settled abroad but one must not forget his/her roots. - Education brings Knowledge, Knowledge brings Industry, Industry brings Commerce, Commerce brings Wealth and Wealth brings Prosperity !! All the very best to you and your family.

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  2. Thank you for appreciating it. The Paravars/Parathavar are among the few clans which can call themselves as natives of the Tamil land. You deserve to be proud of your rich history.

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  3. hi Sharmalan,
    it is good to know that you know lot about paravars. there are lot of other family names are common among maravar and paravar. like 'pattankattiyar', 'Rayan' etc.
    my great grand father name is manath thevan pattankattiyar.
    i told my marava friend's that, the fish flag and 'meen atchi ie rule of fish' is belong to paravas and they are arguing that they are pandiyars.
    after long time i found that you are the only one among maravars accepted that paravars are blood related to maravars.
    when great muthu ramalinga thevar asked paravas to join the mukulathoor, our leaders didn't joined. don't know the reason.
    when Thevar proudly claimed that, we have army (maravar) and Navy( paravar) too.
    he clear told other tribes that we are the rules of land and sea.
    but sadly no maravars don't know parava blood relation.
    still south tamil nadu, during parava marriage, there is a sadangoo called 'pangali murai' means, maravars come to the parava marriage and give gift to the newly weds.
    hope the educated maravar know about this history. i hope you will work to make
    unity among maravars and paravars, this is the only job was not done by the Great leader.

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    1. oops.do you have leader.in kerala we dont have leader.A.K.Balan former minister of kerala belongs to paravar community

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    2. Thank you. It will be great if someone can share the list of surnames used by the Paravar Hindus and Christians. One of the reason why Maravar-Paravar unity is difficult to achieve is due to religious differences. The Maravar majority are still Hindus while the Paravar majority have become Christians.

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    3. But in kerala most of paravars are hindus.Some of them are use surnames as Kurup,surname given by samoothiris(Rajas) of kozhikode .Somebody told me Dr.APJ abdulkalam belongs to muslim paravar.
      you can check this link for the surname of paravr
      http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Appendix:Indian_surnames_%28Paravar%29

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  4. Nice research but without any historical proof.

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    1. Which part of the article are you refering to?

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  5. paravars are in sc list at k.k and kerala but thevars are in backward caste ..?

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    1. This comment is irrelevant to the post. We are not discussing about economic classification of jatis. Kindly refrain from making comments which are not relevant.

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    2. No paravars are not SC cast, they are backward cast, even im a paravar from kk....

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    3. Paravars belong to MBC in TN like mukkulathoor as it was intentionally done by Tamil Nadu govt. to make all the ancient castes in one separate category.

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    4. Paravars belong to MBC like Thevar and other mukkulathoor communities. This is the only Christian community which is in MBC only because the then TN Govt. wanted to keep all the mukkulathoor in one section.

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  6. I liked your information about paravars, my maternal uncle said our maternal family belonged to maravar clan before they adorned christanity and settled in coastal areas, do you know any such facts.I livein Australia, do you live here too?

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    1. Hello Divya,

      Firstly, Ponggal Vaalthukal. I was not able to respond immediately due to the festival.
      I live in Malaysia. There are a few Maravar families who converted to Christianity. This happened during the time of John Britto. I am not aware of any migration to coastal areas.

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  7. Hi there im from Singapore , while researching my caste padayatchi in google , i came to find out that paravars use the title as well . Im curious to know if there is any link between padayatchi of vanniyar , paravar and maravar ?

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    1. Hello Adithya,

      Ponggal Vaalthukal.

      The Vanniyar, Maravar and Paravar are three distinct clans.

      Vanniyars are mainly from the north of the Kaveri river. They are also found to live in the Telugu region. I was told that they could be related to the Rajputs of North India. Need to research more on this.

      Paravars live in the coastal areas.

      Maravars are found in the south of Vellar river up to Sayalkudi, bordering Madurai in the West and the Bay of Bengal in the east. This region encompasses present day Ramanathapuram, Sivagangai and Virudhunagar districts.

      But of course, the three clans could have also migrated to other parts.

      Padayachi is a title used by Vanniyar military commanders. I am not aware of its use among the Paravars. This is also because most Paravars have become Christians and they adopted the surnames of those who baptized them.

      Therefore, when the surname Padayatchi is mentioned, it generally refers to those from the Vanniyar clan.

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    2. http://www.gutenberg.org/files/42996/42996-h/42996-h.htm

      Some information about Vanniyars, I am sharing this link with you. Please click to know more about your clan. This was published over 100 years ago.

      Vanniya Gounder
      Padayachi
      Vanniya Naickers

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    3. Error, it should have been written as Vollar river instead of Vellar river.

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  8. Replies
    1. Ceylon’s Governor admitted in a letter in 1845 that the island Katchatheevu belonged to Sethupathy. In 1905, Seenikuppan Padayachi from Ramnad built a church in the barren islet, called St. Antony’s, for fishermen to take rest and dry their nets or seek shelter during times of cyclones. This Seenukuppan Padayachi is definitely a Paravar and not Vanniyar (Palli).

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  9. Vanakkam Thevare..
    I'm Andez from Kanyakumari,I am just aware of the "Padayatchi" title among paravars.Many of relatives use the Padayatchi title,mostly hindu paravars are using the title.And I have heard about the "Pangali Murai" sandangu and Maman,Machan murai of Maravars and paravars.They use to say,when paravars go to sea for fishing,they leave the women and children under the protection of Maravars and Maravars keep guard of the Paravar families and assets.Maravars treat Paravar women as their own sisters and call paravars as Machan and Mappilai.Few Thevars and Paravars call each other "Pothi","the great grand ancestor".I know a family of Paravars in Veerapandian pattanam,with a surname "Azhgiya Pandithevar",they were court poet of Sethupathi kings of ramnad.It is very obvious that a non-thevar can't use a "Thevar" title in Sethupathi's court.
    Maravars and Paravars are Thevars of Pandian kingdom.If we join together,we can create a strong vote bank too.Apart from the religious barrier we should unite.Paravars should search their roots and lost relationships.Maravars should acknowledge Paravars.Only through unity we can rule again..

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    1. Ceylon’s Governor admitted in a letter in 1845 that the island Katchatheevu belonged to Sethupathy. In 1905, Seenikuppan Padayachi from Ramnad built a church in the barren islet, called St. Antony’s, for fishermen to take rest and dry their nets or seek shelter during times of cyclones. This Seenukuppan Padayachi is definitely a Paravar and not Vanniyar (Palli).

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  10. thank you Mr.sharmalan , from this site i know lot of things about my caste and i wish maravars & paravars to be unity

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    1. Thank you for appreciating the blog. Merry Christmas to you.

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  11. http://thevar-mukkulator.blogspot.in/2014/01/blog-post.html

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  12. Hi friends sukumar from tiruchengodu namakkal district. Vanniyars are the single largest community of tamilnadu. Vanniyars are commonly referred as vanniyars kula Kshatriya but they use various caste titles such as vanniya gounder; vanniya kander; padayatchi; padayatchi gounder; nayakar as I know very well. Vanniyars are based on agriculture only. They live in tamilnadu Kerala Karnataka and andhra. In andhra they referred as agni kula Kshatriya. They are generally in BC but they did very big protest in 1979-80 and successfully moved themselves into MBC in order to uplift them in many aspects mainly in education. They were in politics also gaining power successfully and you can see many vanniyars ministers like other communities. They were brave soldiers in ancient days. In the term padayatchi padai refers army atchi means ruling they ruled the army in ancient days. In tamilnadu vanniyars and thevars are traditionally considered as Kshatriya community since both the community peoples are more involved in army and they were soldiers when compared to any other community especially in tamilnadu. Both are doing well. The common uniqueness between them is they were brave and they were soldier's in ancient days and traditionally they are agricultural basis. One beauty is they lived in different region but still now also their relationship is strong enough. In dharmapuri Bangalore Pondicherry Salem and in some part of kongu regions they referred as vanniya gounder or padayatchi gounder. In paramathi velur they referred as kander; in some part of kongu region they referred as simply padayatchi. In chennai they referred as nayakar. In Karnataka they referred as gounder and also in Kerala they referred as padayatchi gounder. In andhra they referred as agni kula Kshatriya and they use subtitle as vanniya reddiar. Friends since I belong to vanniya kula Kshatriya community I gained all these info from my father and also by referring many articles. Thk u for all

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    1. Hello Sukumar,
      Thank you for sharing this wonderful information. I understand that the Vanniyars live mainly north of Kaveri river. They would have been an important community in the military of the Pallavas. Perhaps more research on the Sambuvarayars and Kadavarayars can throw some light. Back then, they were known as Palli instead of Vanniyar.

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    2. Hats off to sharmalan thevar for such a magnanimous job, I belong to paravar caste from Tirunelveli District. We are not SC, we are MBC category, sufficient evidence can be found in tamil literature that paravar were early pandiyans and hoisted their fish flag for their dynasty, then padiyan dynasty had moved from KORKAI port city to Madurai (koodal nagar{history name}), Tamil Literature has revealed paravar war abilities example pandiyan nedunchezhiyan thalaiyanamganam war, vanniyar were known as palli in history I have read one article related this. padayatchi surname may be belong to vanniyar caste, why hindu paravars using this name in kanyakumari district I don’t know. Now a day’s even nadars caste also tracing their origin from pandiyan dynasty without any history support because their population is more in southern districts that is vote bank politics.

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    3. Hats off to sharmalan thevar for such a magnanimous job, I belong to paravar caste from Tirunelveli District. We are not SC, we are MBC category, sufficient evidence can be found in tamil literature that paravar were early pandiyans and hoisted their fish flag for their dynasty, then padiyan dynasty had moved from KORKAI port city to Madurai (koodal nagar{history name}), Tamil Literature has revealed paravar war abilities example pandiyan nedunchezhiyan thalaiyanamganam war, vanniyar were known as palli in history I have read one article related this. padayatchi surname may be belong to vanniyar caste, why hindu paravars using this name in kanyakumari district I don’t know. Now a day’s even nadars caste also tracing their origin from pandiyan dynasty without any history support because their population is more in southern districts that is vote bank politics.

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  13. I am not sure why they referred as Palli any meaning, I need to research else if you know you can tell. I will learn from you. Padayatchi, Vanniyar, Gounder have meaning which we know, but not sure about palli.

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    1. I am also not very sure why they were known as Palli.

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    2. Anyway, how can I contact you? Do you have email/Facebook?

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  14. Hi friend thanks for accepting my request in FB. We will be in touch.

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  15. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ciu6N80jOWo
    Please check this out

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  16. Hi.. I have a question here.. Did the early Portuguese settlement in tamilnadu marry the Paravar's? And is that how the Paravars gaines these Portuguese Surnames? Or did they inherit these surnames after converting into christianity?
    Because i read in wikipedia that there is a possibility of Paravar's having gained Portuguese surnames as a result of marriage..
    Is that true?

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    1. I am just guessing here. They probably got the surname from the person who baptised them.

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  17. It is essential to stress the fact that both Maravars and Paravars shared the Pandyan throne during different ages which is evident from the fact that Pandyan emblem had both "Bull" and "Fish" ensignia. They had deep blood bonded ties during both the Early Pandyan Kingdom and the later Pandyan Kingdom. Thiru. V. Kanakasabhai also reinstates that in his book "Tamils eighteen hundred years ago". I would say that both Maravars and Paravars in the olden times atleast during the Pandyan era recognised that they are sibling clans. It is also critical to notice that there are little or no recorded conflicts between these two clans right from the Pandyan era until now.

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    1. Are there any existing royal family among the Paravars?

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  18. Sharmalan - You should refer book written by Joe D'Cruz

    http://tamil.koodal.com/tamil/books/review.asp?id=45&title=aali-sool-ulagu&author=j-d-kurus
    http://www.amazon.in/Korkai-R-N-Joe-Cruz/dp/8189359916
    http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-features/tp-fridayreview/fishing-out-the-facts/article5505307.ece

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