Pazhayanur (Tiruttani Taluk)


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Pazhayanaur, a village as ancient and as good a sacred place as Thiruvalangad, is situated at a distance of about 1.5 kilometres from Thiruvalangadu village. The contribution of Pazhayanur to the great tradition and glory of Tamils is unique. It was here that seventy Tamil Vellalars together sacrificed their lives to uphold a spoken work of honour. The opinion of the scholars is that nowhere could they come across such a unique incident involving the sacrifice of so many lives at an appointed hour. The details of this incident are as described below :

Once a murder, who killed his wife, reached pazhayanur in the evening of a particular day, closely followed by the spirit of the murdered wife (named Neeli). It is said that the ghost assumed the form of a woman with a child and waited for an opportune moment to seek revenge. This ghost made an appeal to the people of Pazhayanur to prevent the traveler, her husband, from deserting her. Protesting strongly against this, the man tried to convince that the woman was nothing but a ghost. Not convinced by his plea, the 70 people prevailed upon the traveler, ordered him to stay overnight with the woman, who claimed to his his wife. When the traveler protested this on the ground that he might be harmed by the woman, they pledged the word of honour that all of them would lay down their lives if, by change, any harm should befall him in the night by his wife. But, the next morning to their utter shock, they could find only the dead body of the man murdered in revenge, by the woman who made good her escape by then. There was of course none to insist to keep their pledge, yet, the 69 of the 70 Vellalars undoubtedly thought that they had erred. To make the error in judgement, the 69 Vellalars of Pazhayanur lit fire and sacrificed their lives plunging into it. The other Vellala who was away in his field work in the early hours of the morning, when learnt this incident, killed himself at once with the plough shard. The Chera, the Cola and the Pandya, the great Tamil Kings, who, on hearing this incident and the sacrificial fire was still burning without dying visited Pazhayanur to pay homage to the noble martyrs of truth and justice.

The early Tamil literature has reference to this incident. Devaram of Thirugnansambandar, of the 7th Century A.D., and Sekkizhar's Thiruthondar Puranam popularly known as Periapuranam, carry references to this incident. We have to hear in mind that Sekkizhar, who was the Prime Minister of Kulothunga Chola-II (A.D. 1137- 1150) wrote his monumental work after consulting official documents and making exhaustive reference to other records, practice and tradition. The great Saiva scholar Umapathy Sivachariar (A.D. 1313) also refers to this incident in his Sekkizhar Puranam.