Pillai is a subdivision or clan of the Nair community of Kerala. Pillai was one of the most common titles of dignity held by the Hindu caste of the Nairs and Pattaryas of NorthTravancore. The title of Pillai was bestowed through a formal ceremony known as Thirumukom Pidikkuka, i.e. holding the face of the King, and included the payment of a fee known as Adiyara to the King. A person thus bestowed with this title now secured the honorific title of Pillai suffixed and the distinctive title of Kanakku (meaning accountant inTamil language) prefixed to his name. However, Kanakku and Pillai were never used together; a person named Krishnan would be referred to as Krishnan Pillai or Kanakku, followed by his maternal uncle's name, and Krishnan. The latter style was used in royal writs and communications. So important were the privileges granted by this title that as late as in 1814 a Brahmin, Sanku Annavi, sometime Dewan of Travancore, obtained the same from the Maharajah. Prominent among the Pillais of medieval Kerala were theEttuveetil Pillamar of Travancore. Chempakaraman Pillai A title superior to the ordinary Pillai was that of Chempakaraman Pillai, an innovation of Maharajah Marthanda Varma of Travancore. The individual whom it was the king's pleasure to honour was first taken in a procession by the nobles and ministers of the state, atop an elephant, around the main four streets of the city of Trivandrum and then received in the palace by the Prime Minister and seated next to him. The ceremony concluded by treating him to Paan Supari. A person thus honoured prefixed Kanakku, followed byChempakaraman instead of the name of his maternal uncle, followed by his own name, e.g. Kanakku Chempakaraman Krishnan. Andhra Pradesh usage The Gavara community uses Pilla as a title, whereas the Aaraama Dravidulu community uses Chellapilla. The same surname is used by many other castes like mala, kapu etc. List of castes using the title Pattariyar Padmasaliya Elur Chetty Illathu Pillai(Ezhavar) Isai Vellalar Kaaralavellala Pillai Karai Kattu Pillai Karkarthar Saiva, Karkarthar Vellalar Nair Nangudi Vellalar Nanjil Nattu Vellalar Saiva Pillai Saiva Vellalar Sozhiya Vellala Pillai also called as Chozia Vellalar Tirunelveli Saiva Vellalar Yadava Muslim of South Travancore History of the title "Pillai" was historically used throughout the medieval period as an honorific title bestowed on high functionaries serving in various royal courts in south India. Although traditionally bestowed on members of high status and aristocratic castes, the name became adopted as a surname by a broad layer of the Tamil peasantry during the 19th and 20th century. With the extension of tenancy rights, the growth of the market economy and with new opportunities for middle class employment, members of cultivator communities, starting with the peasantry, began adopting the name as both a form of upward social mobility and as a means of differentiating themselves from the broader peasantry. Those adopting it for this reason included communities considered historically oppressed (see Paraiyar). Amongst some Tamil communities the name is also now used as a caste name or signifier, though without any real historical basis. Notable people named Pillai Social leaders V. O. Chidambaram Pillai (1872–1936), Indian freedom fighter Mannathu Padmanabhan Pillai (1878–1970), founder of Nair Service Society Pattom A. Thanu Pillai (1885–1970), Second Chief Minister of unified Kerala Paravur TK Narayana Pillai (1890–1971), Indian freedom fighter Champakaraman Pillai (1891–1934), Indian freedom fighter Namakkal Kavignar Ramalingam Pillai, poet and freedom fighter Sir N. R. Pillai, first Cabinet Secretary of Independent India Rao Bahadur P. I. Chinnaswamy Pillai, first Municipal Chairman of Palakkad, Kerala, India R. Balakrishna Pillai (born 1935), former State minister in Kerala L. D. Swamikannu Pillai, Indian astronomer, Speaker of Tamil Nadu Assembly Navanethem Pillay, South African Judge, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights A. R. Pillai, Indian freedom fighter Nadakkal Parameswaran Pillai (born 1931), Leader of Indian Coffee House movement, Author of Coffee Housinte Katha Pradani Muthirulappa Pillai, minister of Ramnad during the reign of Muthuramalinga Sethupathy G. Parameswaran Pillai (1890–1963), Dewan of Travancore P. Govinda Pillai, a Communist Party of India leader Ariranga Pillay (born 1945), former Chief Justice and briefly Acting President of Mauritius Sardar Vedarathinam Pillai, Indian Freedom Fighter - Vedaraniam Salt March Velupillai Prabhakaran (born 1954), founder of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam Thesiga Vinayaka Pillai, Indian freedom fighter, great poet Others Ananda Ranga Pillai (1709–1761), a dubash in the service of French East India Company Changampuzha Krishna Pillai, a writer of Malayalam poetry Manonmaniam Sundaram Pillai, eminent writer in Tamil literature; his poem "Niraarum Kadal Udutha" is the official Tamil Anthem Nagai Vedachalam Pillai, also known as Maraimalai Adigal Devasahayam Pillai (1712–1752), Indian court official, controversial convert to Christianity Maruthanayagam Pillai(1725–1764), Indian soldier and administrator. Also known as "Muhammed Yusuf Khan" Subbayya Sivasankaranarayana Pillai (1901–1950), Indian mathematician Thakazhi Sivasankara Pillai(1912–1999), a Malayalam author K. C. Sreedharan Pillai (1920–1985), Indian mathematician Dr. Sivathanu Pillai,Head ofDefence Research and Development Organisation Rajmohan Pillai(born 1964), Indian businessman Dhanraj Pillay (born 1968), Indian hockey player Nisha Pillai, Indian-born journalist and BBC news anchor Rhea Pillai, Indian model S. Kanapathipillai (1899–1986), Hindu revivalist V. N. Rajasekharan Pillai, current Vice Chancellor of Indira Gandhi National Open University IGNOU. Naraina Pillai, a social entrepreneur and businessman Marimutthu Pillai, a musician C. W. Thamotharampillai, publisher of ancient Tamil texts Arumuka Navalar, born as Kandar Arumugam Pillai, a Hindu reformer M. P. Narayana Pillai, a Malayalam writer K. C. Pillai, Doctor of Divinity, (1900–1970) a Bishop-at-large of the Indian Orthodox Church, Antiochean Succession, Chennai (Madras), India.
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.
Tirunelveli Saiva Pillai Settlements :
Sub-castes Some of the sub-castes of the predominant Pillai community are
Paiyur kottai Vellalar