Kongu Vellalar Gounders are predominantly an agricultural community residing in Kongu Nadu, a region in the western part of Tamil Nadu. The community is also engaged in trade and business activities mainly in Kongu Nadu, though many have expanded or moved far beyond the boundaries of Kongu Nadu. Kongu Vellalar Gounders hold prominent positions, globally, in different spheres of life.
Kongu Vellalar Gounders are often referred to as Kongu Vellala Gounders or Vellala Gounders or simply Gounders. Kongu Vellala Gounders follow Saiva Siddantha traditions of Hinduism. However, not every Kongu Vellala Gounder today restrict themself to the Saiva Siddantha traditions.
The Kongu Vellala Gounder community is divided into more than 200 kulams or kootams. Various literature refer to a different number of kulams or kootams. Each kulam has its own Kula Deivam and Kula Guru. The tradition of Kula Deivam is widely practiced.
Today, Gounders are actively engaged in the political landscape of Tamil Nadu, with many Gounders holding ministerial positions. Gounders are also represented by a number of regional and international associations as well as political parties.
Kongu Vellalar Gounder Community website is attempting to bring together in one place the Gounder community’s history; demographics; social structure; and traditions, customs and rituals. It also strives to identify, honor and immortalize prominent Gounders who have contributed not only to the development and welfare of the community, but also to the country and humanity.
Origin of the name Kongu Vellala Gounder
There are many different interpretations for the origin of Kongu Vellalar Gounder.
Vellalars (aka vellala, velala, velalar) refers to an elite class of agriculturist landlords in Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Sri Lanka. It is widely believed that Vellalars originated from Velirs (i.e., local chieftains or Kurunila Mannargal). Further details on Velirs are in the ancient history section (under development). Vellalars are divided into a number of sub-castes including Gounders, Mudaliars and Pillai.
Kongu refers to people who were originally from the Kongu Nadu region. The common view is that people of Kongu Nadu are Kongu Vellala Gounders (Mudaliars are Thondai Nadu, Pillais are Chola Nadu, etc).
There are divergent views on the origin of the word Kongu. It is believed to have come from Kongadesam, where Konga is a variation of Ganga or the land of Gangas.
Reference to the word Gangakulam in Kongu Mangala Vazthu is believed to represent Kongu Vellala Gounders. Gangakulam is interpreted to means descendants of King Gangadatta (in Sanskrit “the one”, given by the Goddess Ganga).
Kongu also means nectar of flowers.
Gounder is widely believed to mean Kongu Vellala Gounders. However, some argue that Gounder is a title (like Mudaliar and Pillai) rather than name of a community or caste. For this reason Gounder is used or claimed by many communities including Vettuvars, Vanniars, etc.
The common view is that the word Gounder originated from Kaamindan (noble protector of land and its people). Kaamindan later transformed into Kavundan or Goundan or Gounder.
Notwithstanding the lack of clarity, today, Kongu Vellala Gounders are a large, flourishing community with a well developed social structure and established traditions and customs. They are distinct to other Vellalars as well as to other communities using the title or claiming the surname Gounder.
Historical research is constrained by lack of documented or reliable information. There are also differing interpretations, claims and counter-claims. RootsToBuds aims to not only continue and support the historical research, but also to try and understand the history based on information available today. Collating information for each Kulam (Kootam), its lineage, its migration history, etc in RootsToBuds Family Tree, will enable creation of a comprehensive record of Kongu Vellala Gounder community, which would help understand the history as well. This would also be the first for any community in the world!
Today, RootsToBuds have thousands of Kongu Vellalar Gounders connected to a single Family Tree. If you would like to help grow this tree, Register your interest and we will reply to you with further details.