Sunday, 30 June 2013

The 5 Landscapes of Tamilakam

The ancient Tamil people categorized their land into 5 different landscapes. These are collectively known as Aintinai, the 5 tinai. Each of these tinai has a patron deity.

Different tribes dominate each tinai. Interestingly the ancient Tamils also used the 5 tinais as genre for their poems as each tinai represents a particular human mood.

The concept of aintinai is unique to the Tamils and it was first mentioned in the oldest surviving Tamil text, the Tolkappiyam. This text is estimated to be 2,500 years old.

Let's take a look at the 5 landscapes of Tamilakam.





Kurinji
These are the hilly regions of the land. The patron deity is Muruga who was also known as Seyon. As the deity of the hills, Muruga is also worshipped as Malayandi. The associated mood of the kurinji tinai is romanticism. The kurinji tinai is inhabited by the Kuravar, Veddar and the Kanavar tribe. They were hunters.

The Kuravar people have various divisions. Some are not related to each other. There is also one known as Nari-kuravar due to fox hunting.

Nari is the Tamil word for fox and jackals.

There used to be a preserved carcass of a fox at the entrance of my late paternal grandfather's house in Sivagangai. He bought it from a Kurava tribesman.

Purpose? Well the older generation believed that if you see a fox as soon as you wake up in the morning, it is a sign of good omen. (Nari mugathil mulicha nalathu) My grandfather decided to just hang it at the entrance so that he sees it each morning.

The people of Kurinji were also experts in the art of staff fighting known as Silambam. They used their silambam skills to defend themselves against the wild animals. The staple food of the kurinji inhabitants are meat, roots, honey, milet and hill paddy rice.






Mullai
The Mullai represents the pastoral regions of the land. The deity of this land is Mal, the dark god. Mal was also known as Mayon and this is none other than Vishnu. Hence Mal or Vishnu is also worshipped today as Tirumal or Perumal. Some of you would know that in the Hindu pantheon, Vishnu is portrayed as the maternal uncle of Muruga. This is why Muruga is also referred to as Mal-marugan (son-in-law of Mal).

In Tamil kinship, cross cousin marriage is allowed. Nephews (sister's sons) are often considered as suitable bridegroom for daughters.

The associated mood of this land is longing for loved ones. This region is inhabited by the Ayar and Idaiyar tribe. They are also known as the Yadavas. Have you seen surnames like Yadav, Konar or even Kone? It is their ancestors who lived in the Mullai region. They were mainly shepherds and cattle breeders.

We must also take note that Krishna, an incarnation of Vishnu was born into a Yadava tribe. The name Krishna (Krsna) has the same meaning as Mal, the dark one.

The staple food of the mullai tinai consists mainly of milk, dairy products and food obtained from other tinais.





Marutham
The agricultural region is known as Marutham. The patron deity of this region is Venthan who is also known as Indra. Venthan is also the god of heavens who provided rain. Rain is the most important element of this region as it is needed for agriculture.

The mood associated with this tinai is domesticity and infidelity. Infidility because the Parataiyar prostitutes also lived in this region along with other tribes. So infidelity was quite common.

This region was inhabited mainly by the Vellalar tribe. They were mostly agricultural landlords. The Pallar tribe worked the land of the Vellalars as agricultural labors.

Rice is the staple food of this region. This is the most fertile region. Many villages sprung in the marutham tinai.





Paalai
The Paalai represents the dry arid regions of the land. It is hard to say that it was an entirely separate region. The paalai are pockets of dry land.

The patron deity of this land is Kotravai who is also worshipped as Durga, the goddess of war. Paalai is the only tinai which has a female patron deity.

This region with its harsh environment is inhabited by warlike tribes known as Eyinar, Maravar and Kallar (Kalvar). My ancestors belonged to these tribes.

The mood associated with this tinai is loneliness. The staple food is meat, grass rice and roots.

It is not the best region to live. The paalai tinai was infested with robbery and tribe wars. The victors of such crisis usually offer the heads of the looser to Kotravai.





Neythal
The final region is the coastal region known as Neythal. Being right next to the sea, it will only makes sense if the God of Seas, known as Varunan becomes its patron deity.

The mood associated with this region is separation and union. This could be due to the lifestyle of fishermen. When they venture into the sea in the morning, their families will miss them and pray for their safe return. When they return after the day's catch, there will be happiness in the reunion.

The neythal tinai is inhabited by the Paravars (Parathavar), Valayar and Meenavar tribes. They were involved with activities like fishing, sea faring and salt making.

Fish is the staple food of this region.

These are the 5 different types of landscapes which exist in Tamilakam.

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.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Dogs of Tamil Nadu

Pictures taken from Google. Credit goes to the various people who uploaded them.

Whenever we speak of dogs, we tend to focus on the European breeds.  This is due to their popularity and demand. Unknown to many, India has about 88 native dog breeds. Six of these breeds are from the southern state of Tamil Nadu.

Most of these dogs from Tamil Nadu evolved naturally. That makes them more suitable to the hot climate in the south. Furthermore, these dogs require less medical attention as their immune system is stronger, making them less prone to disease which are common among the European breeds.

In Tamil Nadu, we can find breeds like the famous Rajapalayam, Kombai, Alangu Mastiff, Chippiparai, Kanni and Malayeri. Both the Alangu Mastiff and Malayeri are now extinct.

Malayeri
The Malayeri (hill climber) was a shepherd dog used by the tribals to herd sheeps. It was commonly found in the hills of Tamil Nadu-Kerala border.

Alangu Mastiff
The Alangu Mastiff is a Molosser dog developed in Thanjavur. It is actually a crossbreed between the Sindh Mastiff and the Alangu Hound. The breed became extinct after the fall of their main patrons, the royal family of Thanjavur.

Alangu Mastiff

Rajapalayam
Named after the town of Rajapalayam in the district of Virudhunagar, the Rajapalayam is one of the most popular native breeds in India. It is a sight hound and the most prized colour is pure white with pink nose. The Rajapalayam was used by the Palayakars in their war against Tipu Sultan and later the British. The dogs were trained to attack the cavalry unit and their horses. These dogs are tall and lean.

Rajapalayam
Rajapalayam
Rajapalayam
Rajapalayam
Rajapalayam
Rajapalayam pups
Chippiparai
The Chippiparai is another sight hound found in the south. These dogs are believed to be descended from the Saluki. Chippiparai dogs were bred by the royal families of Madurai and Tirunelveli. The dogs were used as hunting dogs. Even today, the locals use these dogs in their hunting expedition.

Chippiparai

Chippiparai
Chippiparai
Chippiparai

Chippiparai
Chippiparai pup
Kanni
The Kanni is similar to the Chippiparai. They share the common ancestor. Like the Chippiparai, Kanni is also used in hunting. It's name in Tamil means virgin or unmarried girl. In ancient times, Kanni was one of the dowry (marriage gifts) given by the bride's family. This custom was practiced by the Kambalathu Naicker community.

Kanni
Kanni
Kanni
Kanni
Kanni
Kanni pup

Kombai
The Kombai is perhaps the most ferocious of the native breeds. Unlike the Chippiparai, Kanni and Rajapalayam which are sight hounds, the Kombai is a bear hound. Kombai's powerful jaws and heavy appearance made it a suitable guard dog. The dogs were also used to hunt bears and protect the livestock from tigers and leopards. This breed was a favorite choice of the Mukkulathor chieftains.

During Sivagangai's war against the British in late 18th century, it is written in records of the British that the forts guarded by these breeds were almost impregnable until every one of the dogs were killed. The fierce Kombais are said to defend their masters till their very end and this is featured in ballads sung by the locals.

Kombai

Kombai
Kombai
Kombai
Kombai pup




These dogs may not look as beautiful as the European breeds, but they are certainly of good quality. The kennel associations in Tamil Nadu need to ensure that there are proper breeding programs to protect the remaining native breeds from becoming extinct.


Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Hanuman, Thoth and Sun Wukong


Hanuman

Most of you would have known about Hanuman, the Monkey God in the epic Ramayana. Hanuman is known for his strength, speed, ability to fly, devotion, friendship, sacrifice and loyalty. He is also known as Anjaneya, the son of Anjana.

The worship of Monkey God exist in other religions too. China has Sun Wukong, Egypt had Thoth. The names are different. But there are alot of similarities in it.

Thoth
For example, Thoth is a mediator between good and evil just like how Hanuman was for Rama and Ravana. Thoth directs the movement of the heavenly bodies, Hanuman is able to control Shani (Saturn).

Hanuman is known to be playful and prone to creating havoc. He burned the entire Lanka by jumping around after his tail was lit. Sun Wukong wrecked havoc in the Heavenly Kingdom.

There are many more things which can be compared to reveal the similarities.

Sun Wukong
I believe that whether it is about Hanuman, Thoth or Wun Wukong, it is most probably referring to the same character and events. The difference is in the manner it is being told.

Monday, 10 June 2013

Days, Planets & Gods

The 7 day/week system is currently followed globally.  It was used by ancient Hindus, Babylonians and many more. We need to also thank the Greeks and Romans for their contributions.

I was suprised when I find out that there are also other cultures who do not have 7 days in a week. For example, the Javanese people have a 5 day/week calendar known as the Pasaran cycle.
 
Each day in our 7 day/week has its own name. Have you thought about its origins? The 7 days as we know today have their roots in astronomy. In fact, most of our religious events has its origins in astronomy.

Humans realized that Sun, Moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus and Saturn are the 7 celestial objects which can be tracked by looking at the sky.

Therefore, the week was broken into 7 days, each day named after a celestial object as shown below. These celestial objects were then personified as Gods.




Sunday
This is Sun's day.  The day is dedicated to the Sun God who rules the Sun. Hindus call him Surya, Egyptians called him Ra. Greeks called him Apollo, Romans had Sol. Christians consider Sunday as the day of the Lord.




Monday
Monday is Moon's Day. Hindus dedicate it to the Moon God Soma who is also identified as Chandra. The Norsemen call their Moon God as Mani, Egyptians called it Khonsu, Greeks called it Selene.



Tuesday
This is Tiw's Day. He is the Germanic God of War. The planet associated with Tuesday is Mars. Tiw is also known as Tyr by the Norsemen and Aries by the Greeks. In Hinduism, Tuesday and the planet Mars is associated with Muruga and Durga. Both are the God and Goddess of war.



Wednesday
This is Woden's Day. He is another Germanic God. The celestial object associated with Wednesday is Mercury. Woden is known as Odin in Norse mythology, Hindus call the planet Mercury as Buddhan.



Thursday
Most of you would have known that it is Thor's Day. He is the Norsemen God of Thunder. The Greek version will be Zeus, and the Hindu version is Indra. The planet associated with this day is Jupiter. Hindus call the lord of this planet as Guru. He is also the celestial teacher. Thursday is often considered as the day of learning by the Hindus.



Friday
Friday is Freya's Day. Freya was the Nordic Goddess of Fertitlity. She is associated with the planet Venus. Hindus call her Sakthi. The Sakthi worship is the worship of the Mother Goddess. Various cultures across the globe worship the Mother Goddess. She is associated with Venus and Friday. Interestingly, Muslims consider Friday as an important day to offer worship too.




Saturday

Saturday is Saturn's Day. The Lord of Saturn in Hinduism is Shani. The Romans identified their God Saturn with the Greek God Cronos.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Gothra

Our DNA

Gothra exist since ancient times. Gothra is known by many names across the globe. The Tamils call it gothiram or kilai.

So what exactly is a gothra?

In genetics, the Y-chromosome is passed down from father to son only. It is an unbroken chain which goes back to hundreds of thousands of years.  The Y-DNA is used to determine a person's paternal ancestry.

This is a form of gothra too. It is a Genetic Gothra.

In human genealogy, the gothra is represented as family names. This was started thousands of years ago by our ancestors. They had a purpose to give names to their gothra. It was done mainly to prevent inbreeding in the family.


Besides India, the gothra system is common in countries like China. Chinese family names like Tan, Chua, Lee are all gothras. The Chinese traditionally use their gothra as prefix before their given name. For example, Chua Soi Lek, with Chua as the gothra and Soi Lek as the given name.

Modern Chinese may use an English name and follow the European & Indian pattern of using gothra as suffix, for example Edward Chua, Brandon Lee, Marcus Tan.


The Yang family tree.
The Europeans use the gothra as a suffx after their given name. For example, Kate Middleton, Mark Wahlberg, Justin Bieber. 
Middleton, Walhberg and Bieber are their gothras.


Members of the same gothra are akin to siblings. This is why people of the same gothra are known as sagothra.

If you are a Tamil, you will realize that gothra is the root word for sagothran (brother) and sagothri (sister). You, your brother, your sister, your father's brother's children are all sagothras. This is why you cannot intermarry with them or anyone else from the same gothra.


The Brahmins have their own gothras. It is believed that there were originally 8 gothras which expanded to over 40. The main 8 gothras of the Brahmins are named after the ancient Rishis (sages). They believe that members of each gothra descended from that particular rishi.

Kashyapa
Athri
Bharadwaja
Visvamitra
Gautama
Jamadagni
Vasishta




Like the Brahmins, the Kallar community of Tamil Nadu have their own gothras too. They have over 1,000 gothras. Names like Vandayar, Thondaiman, Pallavarayar, Kalingarayar, Servai, Thevar, Malavarayar, Muvarayar, Kandiyar, Kandapillai are examples of gothras used by the Kallars.

I mentioned about the Kongu Vellalar in a separate post. They have approximately 60 gothras known to them as kootam. You can read about them here.

Many would have thought that Tamils have no gothras. Truth is, majority of Tamil have gothras. Only minorities do not have it and that actually depends on their individual clan practices.

Interestingly, some Tamils also have matrilineal branches. This is used to determine inheritance like the Minangkabau community.

Various communities in other parts of the world have their own gothras too. Although the names are different,  the purpose of having gothra is still the same.

Monday, 3 June 2013

Muniswaran Worship


(Pictures taken from Google except for the Banyan tree)



Hinduism is a world of its own. It is not a single book religion like the Abrahamic religions. It is actually a collection of various religions, philosophies, doctrines, rituals and practices. In Hinduism, worship of minor deities is also practiced. Although it is not part of mainstream Hinduism, it still plays an important part in the daily lives of many individuals and families.

The worship of minor deities is much more common in rural areas. It is often more of a clan or family affair. The minor deities fall into different categories. One of it is a class of powerful spirits known as Muni.


My family use to offer worship under this tree in Klang.

My interest in Muni worship started at a very young age. I have always been a curious kid. I ask alot of questions.. I still am a curious person. Always looking for more clues and hopefully some answers.

It is perhaps my late paternal grandmother, Letchumy, who ignited the interest in me. I call her Appayee. The rest of my cousins call her Appatha.

Ayee & Atha are synonymous with Amma. Appayee or Appatha simply means Appa's Amma.

She was an ardent worshiper of a particular Muni. This Muni was worshipped under a banyan tree for many generations by my family. The family no longer lives in that area. The kampung has been converted into a park. But the tree is still there.

According to some, the municipal council tried to cut the tree down but they could not do it due to some unknown reasons. They had no choice but to build the road around the area where the tree is situated.

Why were they unable to cut the tree? Did our Muni prevent them? It is still a mystery. Nobody worships under that tree anymore.


A statue of Vaal Muni from India
I wrote about Muni worship in Wikipedia few years ago. It was even compiled as a PDF document and uploaded into my Scribd account. 

Once, a reader from Singapore sent me an email requesting for my permission to use my article. He is from one of the temples and wanted to distribute my article to the devotees there. I do not know if he did distribute it but I was glad that someone actually appreciates my work.


The PDF document can be downloaded here
The Wikipedia article can be read here


Since I have written about Muni worship in Wiki and Scribd, it is time to make a blog post about it.

I have mentioned earlier that Munis are a class of powerful spirits. These spirits are also known as Siva Gana. They are considered to be servants of Siva. Due to their nature, the Munis are classified as guardian deities. 

In Tamil, they are called as Kaval Deivam. Many of these Munis were once human beings. They could have been warriors or sages. Some Munis are said to be of non human origin. Their history is unknown.



Add caption


In Hinduism, the very act of touching our parent's feet is considered as a form of worship. Similarly, revering a Muni with rituals is also a form of worship but it does not mean that they are God. There are different levels of worship. The worship of God and the worship of Muni is not the same.

Munis are known by many names. They are called as Muniandi, Muniappan and Munisamy. Only some are called as Muniswaran.

The suffix Iswaran does not indicate Siva as some falsely equate these Munis as an incarnation of Siva. 

Siva does not have any incarnation. He has no birth, no death. This is why Siva is considered as the God.

The King of Lanka in the epic Ramayana, Ravanan, is known as Lankeswaran. Siva, hailed as the Supreme God of the universe is known as Sarveswaran, Parameswaran and even Visveswaran.

Similarly, the Muniswarans are considered as periavar or a higher class of Munis which controls the minor Munis and other spirits. The word Iswaran is synonymous with the word Lord. Therefore, Muniswaran could also be interpreted as Lord of Munis.

Back in the olden days, all Munis were generally called as Muniandi. Today, every Muni temple is being referred to as Muniswaran temple in Malaysia.


The Daksha Yagam Myth
There is a story being spread in Malaysia. This story is fabricated by a popular Gurukkal. According to him, Munis emerged from Siva during one of the Puranic events.

The baseless story can be seen in the following Youtube video.




This story is cooked up. If you do not believe me, try reading the Puranas. There is no mention of any  Muniswarans in the Puranas.


Muni in Scriptures and Songs
Not all Munis are known to have good nature. Some are evil in nature.The famous Kanda Sashti Kavasam by Devaraya Swamigal contains the following verses:

paarka paarka paavam podipada
billi soonyam perumpahai ahala
valla bootham valaashtihap peihal
allal paduthum adangaa muniyum
pillaihal thinnum puzhakadai muniyum
kollivaayp peihalum kuralaip peihalum
penkalai thodarum bramaraa chatharum
adiyanaik kandaal alari kalangida.

Please see and see that my sins are powdered,Let the black magic and great enmity go away,Let great devils and those who shake their tails,Let the uncontrollable Muni, which creates problems,Let the back yard Muni which eats babies,Let the ghosts with fire in their mouth,Let the ghosts which steal my speech,And let the Brahma Rakshasas which follow ladies,Run away screaming when they see me.

According to Rig Veda, the Munis are trained in various magic arts and believed to be capable of supernatural feats. They were particularly associated with Rudra (Siva), a deity who is also connected with mountains and storms and more feared than loved. The following is based on the translation of the Rig Veda by Ralph T.H. Griffith in 1896,

HYMN CXXXVI. Kesins. 
1. HE with the long loose locks supports Agni, and moisture, heaven, and earth:He is all sky to look upon: he with long hair is called this light.
2 The Munis, girdled with the wind, wear garments soiled of yellow hue.They, following the wind's swift course go where the Gods have gone before.
3 Transported with our Munihood we have pressed on into the winds:You therefore, mortal men. behold our natural bodies and no more.
4 The Muni, made associate in the holy work of every God,Looking upon all varied forms flies through the region of the air.
 5 The Steed of Vata, Vayu's friend, the Muni, by the Gods impelled,In both the oceans hath his home, in eastern and in western sea.

6 Treading the path of sylvan beasts, Gandharvas, and Apsarases,He with long locks, who knows the wish, is a sweet most delightful friend
7 Vayu hath churned for him: for him he poundeth things most hard to bend,When he with long loose locks hath drunk, with Rudra, water from the cup.


Mariamman. Mari is the Tamil word for rain.
Munis are also mentioned in Mariamman Thalattu, a lullaby dedicated to Goddess Mariamman. There are some references to other deities in this lullaby. The following are the reference made to Vaal Muni (Muni with the sword) and Sem Muni (The Red Muni).

Vaal muniyum Sem muniyum vandu koluvirundar,
Kathan karuppanodu kattazhagar veethu irundar,
Thotiyathu chinnanum, durai magamum thaan irundhar,


The Vaal Muni and Sem Muni came and sat with her, 
The Kattazhagar (handsome one) sat along with Kathan and Karuppan,
The Chinnan of Thottiyam and Duraimagan (Son of the Landlord) sat withher,



Munis can be worshipped in many forms. It is usually done according to the customs of the family.

Tree Worship (Maram Vallipadu)
The trees as such as Banyan (Ala Maram), Sacred Fig (Arasa Maram) and Palmyra (Pana Maram) are believed to be the gate ways used by the Munis to travel between different dimensions. The Munis are also believed to reside in such trees. Tree Worship is the oldest form of Muni worship.

Stone Worship (Nadukkal Vallipadu)
The Stone Worship was mentioned even during Tamil Sangam ages more than 2,500 years ago. Nadukkal or Veerarkal were planted to commemorate the death of someone important.

In the Muni worship, it can be divided to either a single stone or three stones (or bricks), decorated with Saivite sacred ash (vibuthi) marks, sandal paste (santhanam) and saffron paste (kungkumam).A trident (soolam) is planted as a mark of Sivan and Sakthi.


Statue Worship (Uruvam Vallipadu)
This is the most contemporary form of worship. Statues are erected and decorated to help the devotee visualize on the Muni. Other insignias such as sickle (aruval), sword and mace will be used depending on the type of Muni.


A popular Muniswaran temple in Chennai.
Legend
There are many legends on the origins of Muni worship. One of the most popular legends is from the Pachaiamman Temple of Tamil Nadu. This temple is located in the district of Tiruvannamalai just about 2km north of the famous Arunachaleswara Temple.

According to the original legend, Munis were created to guard Goddess Pachaiamman against 7 demons. These are the names of the 7 demons:

Agni Veeran
Anithanthira Veeran
Thakkapathala Veeran
Thanathanthiran Veeran
Ilakana Veeran
Elilkana Veeran
Ugra Veeran

It is also mentioned that the demons were actually 8 in number. After killing them, Vaal Muni gave the head of the demons, one for each of his brothers and kept two for himself.

The Munis are usually represented as 7 brothers. They are called as Sapta Muni. 

Different temples give a different list of Munis. 

Muttaiyar Muni 
Chinnai Mutaiyar Muni
Raya/Nondi Muni
Jada Muni
Poo Muni
Sem Muni
Vaal Muni
Veda Muni

Vaal Muni
Sem Muni
Karu Muni
Natha Muni
Veda Muni
Jada Muni
Lada Muni


In 1996, the Sri Pachaiamman Mannarswami Trust was formed comprising 6 hereditary Agamudaiyar families of Tiruvannamalai whose ancestors have been traditionally serving Goddess Pachaiamman at a location at the south east slope of Arunachala for many generations. The site of the current Temple is believed to have originated sometime during the Chola period (8th to 11th Century). But the Temple, as we now know it, is only about 120 years old.


Saptha Munis in another temple

Since Munis are spirits, it is common to have animal sacrifice as part of the worship. Usually male goat or rooster will be slaughtered for them.

However, animal sacrifice is not done for every Muni. Only for certain Muni. It is usually done on a new moon day. The sacrificed animal is then cooked and served to the devotees.

In Malaysia, stout is offered for the Munis but the actual liquor to be offered is patta sarayam and toddy. This is because Muni worship existed even before stout was introduced to Tamil Nadu.


Muniandi worshipped by the Velama Naidus of Madurai

Sri Muniandi Villas of Madurai famous for their briyani and non-vege dish. This chain of resturants was started by the Velama Naidu community of Madurai. It was named after the Muni worshipped by them.

Vineeta Sinha's book provides an ethnographic documentation of urban-based Hindu religiosity in contemporary Singapore and makes an important contribution to the global study of religion in the diasporas.
Today, the Muni worship has spread among the Tamil diaspora outside India. Temples have been built in honor of the Munis. 

These temples were originally private family temples. It later got converted into public temples and more people started worshiping these Munis. Many Muni devotees of today are probably just 2nd or 3rd generation worshipers. Most of them are not hereditary worshipers.

Probably this is why some of them take Muni worship for granted and deviate from the original worship.


May the brave Muniswara protect us all!