Ayyanar (also spelt Aiyyanar, Ayanar or Iyenar) is a Hindu village god of Tamil Nadu also worshipped by Sri Lankan Tamils. He is primarily worshipped as a guardian deity who protects the rural villages. Most officiating priests are derive from local potter community, but other caste members also officiate in his temples. The temples of Aiyanar are usually flanked by gigantic and colorful statues of him and his companions riding horses or elephants. There are number of theories as to the origins of the deity as well as the etymology of the name. He is associated with the god Ayyanayake by the Sinhalese people of Sri Lanka.