Remembering Rani Velu Nachiyar

Remembering Rani Velu Nachiyar

Rani Velu Nachiyar (3 January 1730 – 25 December 1796) was a queen of Sivaganga estate from 1780 – 1790. She was the first Indian queen to wage war with the East India Company in India. She is known by Tamils as Veeramangai (“brave woman”).

The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi has paid tributes to Rani Velu Nachiyar on her birth anniversary.

In a tweet, the Prime Minister said.

“Remembering the brave Rani Velu Nachiyar on her birth anniversary. Her indomitable courage shall keep motivating the coming generations. Her strong commitment to fight colonialism was remarkable. She personifies the spirit of our Nari Shakti.”

Velu Nachiyar was the princess of Ramanathapuram and the only child of King Chellamuthu Vijayaragunatha Sethupathy and Queen Sakandhimuthathal.

Nachiyar was trained in many combat methods, including war match weapons, martial arts like Silambam and Valari, riding horses, and archery. She knew a lot of languages, including French, English, and Urdu. She married the king of Sivagangai, and they had a daughter. Her husband, Muthu Vaduganatha Periyavudaya Thevar, was killed in a battle with EIC soldiers, and she was drawn into it. She escaped with her daughter.

Sivagangai Palace With Rani Velu Nachiyar Statue Image Source: By N.K. BALA CC BY-SA 4.0

In 1780, she formed an army and sought an alliance with Hyder Ali to launch a war against the East India Company. Velu Nachiyar found a place where the EIC stored ammunition, so she forced a suicide attack on the place, blowing it up. Nachiyar reinherited her husband’s kingdom and ruled it for ten more years. Her daughter Vellacci inherited the throne in 1790. 1780 she gave her daughter powers with the Marudu brothers to help run the kingdom. Nachiyar died a few years later on 25 December 1796.

Matrilineal Societies of India

Legacy

A commemorative postage stamp was released in her honour on 31 December 2008.

The OVM Dance Academy of Chennai presents a grand dance ballet called “VELU NACHIYAR.”.

Professor A.L.I., a Tamil-American hip-hop artist, released a song dedicated to Velu Nachiyar entitled “Our Queen” as part of his Tamilmatic album in 2016.

A grand dance ballet was performed on 21 August 2017 at Naradha Gana Sabha in Chennai, depicting the life of Velu Nachiyar. Sriram Sharma, who studied the queen for almost a decade, directed the play.

Read Also: Khasi Society: India’s largest Matrilineal Society

OV Digital Desk