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Nagarathar
Nagarathar-colombo-chetty.jpg
Total population
100 000
Regions with significant populations
Tamil Nadu, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Malaysia, Burma
Languages

Tamil

Religion

Shaivism, Shaiva Siddhanta

Related ethnic groups

Tamil people, Dravidian people

The Nagarathars (also known as Nagarattar) are a Chettiar community that originated in Kaveripoompattinam under the Chola kingdom of India. They are a prominent mercantile caste in Tamil Nadu, South India.[1]

Contents

Origin & History of Chettiars

The first book on prints to come out about Nagarathar history is in 1894 called "Thanavaisya Nattukottai Nagarathar". With the help of scriptures from Poongondrai Velangudi at Thulavoor Mutt, the book was requested and examined by VR.L.Chinniah Chettiar of Devakottai. The permission granted by imminent persons such as M.AL.AR. Ramanathan Chettiar and AL.AR.RM.Arunachalam Chettiar the edition were printed by Sadavadanam Subramania Iyer of Tanjore at the Desabimani Press at Tanjore. The second edition came in 1904.

In 1911, Pandithamani Kathiresan Chettiar wrote a book called "Nattukottai Nagarathar Seerthirutham" (changes) and in 1919 Chockalinga Ayya of Karaikudi wrote a book called "Nattukottai Nagarathar Marabu Vilakkam" (description of their ways). Both wrote separate books on Nagarathar history. In 1953, the compilation by A.Ramanathan Chettiar of Vayinagaram and the edition of that by Pandithamani was called "Nattukottai Varalaru" (history). In 1970 A.Shesadiri of Varagur wrote "Nattukottai Nagarathar Varalaru", which came out in the form of a book.

After this many researchers on Nagarathars have written many research essays on the past history. Certain notable essays are those written by Kamban Adipodi Sa. Ganesan, Dr.V.SP.Manickanar, Dr.SP.Annamalai and Dr.T.Chockalingam. Based on the above we can classify the old history of the Nagarathars as below: .

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Early History (till 2898 BC.)

Initially the Vaishyas lived in Sandhyapuri of the Sambu Islands in Naganadu. This borders the present state of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. They were of Chandrakula Gothiram. Later they embraced Saivism. There is actually a question over when the Nagarathars joined Saivism and when they would renounce Saivism? "When the sun and the moon were born on this earth the Nagarathars became Saivaites and when they are no more they would renounce Saivism." v According to Pandit Kathiresan Chettiar. At that time they were saivaites, praying to Maragatha Vinayagar, doing trade in precious stones and having the equal respect like the king. Naganadu is near Andhra. Later, an earthquake, according to DR. V.SP.Manickanar destroyed this Naganadu.

Leather Age (2897 BC to 790 BC)

During the Kaliyuga year 204 (2897 BC) the Vaishyas could not bear the harassment of the Naga king and they came down to Thondaimandalam, namely Kanchipuram. At Kanchipuram the king welcomed them with a warm heart and royalty. He gave them land to build temples and mutts, They continued their devotion towards Maragatha Vinayagar and continued their trade with gems till the Kaliyuga year 2311 (790 BC) and lived happily.

Old years (789 BC to 706 AD)

During the Kaliyuga year 2312 (789 BC), Prathaparasa the king who ruled Kanchipuram imposed unjustified severe fines and punishments. Hence, the Vaishyas from there went to Cholanadu. They settled along the banks of River Cauvery at Kaveripoompattinam. Manuneedhicholan, the king of that time requested the Vaishyas to live in three streets, East, West and South streets. He gave the Vaishyas three honourable rights. One was the coronation of the king, the second was to have an independent lion flag of their own and the third was to have golden kalasams in the bungalows they lived in. When they got these rights the Nagarathars were called " Rathina Maguda Thanavaisyar". They continued their prayers towards Maragatha Vinayagar.

In the Kaliyuga year 3775 (674 BC) Poovanthicholan who was ruling at that time harassed and imprisoned all the womenfolk. Hence, the 8000 Vaishyas leaving behind all their assets, 1502 boys and the Maragatha Vinayagar under the custody of their guru Atmananda Sastri to do pooja and look after, they all committed suicide. The guru Atmananda Sastri taught them the five-letter panchatara mantra for upadesam, till to this date they remember it with the help of the Patharakkudi Madam.

In the Kaliyuga year 3784 (683 BC) the old aged Poovanthicholan requested the Vaishya youngsters to do the coronation ceremony for his son Rajaboosanacholan. The youngsters said that they were incapable of doing the coronation since they were all bachelors and there were no eligible girls in the community to get married to. The king consulted with Esana sivachariar and pronounced that Vaishyas can marry Vellala caste girls. The Vaishya youngsters said that they would marry the girls from the Vellala caste, but they would not marry their girls by birth to the Vellala caste. The king requested the Vellala community to accept this. The Vellala community accepted on the condition that their community guru would perform the dhikshai for their girls and the girls born to them. The East Street, which was divided into seven branches, had 502 Vaishya youngsters married to Solliya Vellala girls. For these girls their guru was Alagiya Gurukkal from Srivanjiyam.

Middle Age (707 AD to 1565 AD)

During the Kaliyuga year of 3808 (707AD) Soundarapandian the Pandya king went to Chola kingdom and met Rajabooshanacholan. He stated that during Keerthibooshanapandian's period the sea came inside till Thirubhuvanam and washed away the whole area. After that, 18 successions of Pandya kings have ruled but there were no good families living there. He said that he his inviting some good families to set up a living. He requested for some good families and some Vaishya traders. The Chola king called for the Rathanamaguda Vaishyars and requested a few to go. At that time they stated that wherever they go the three streets would go together and live, and not live separately. On hearing this, the Chola king asked everyone to go to the Pandya kingdom. The Pandya king assured the Vaishyas, that he would give them a place to live, land to build temples and mutts, and took them along with him.

Soundarapandian gave land demarcated, West of the sea, East of Pranmalai, North of River Vaigai and South of River Vellar (present Chettinadu), to live, build temples and mutts. The Pandya king gave Ariyur town and Pranmalai temple, Sundarapatinam and its temple and Ellayatrankudi and its temple.

The three streets Vaishya youngsters could not live together for long because of difference of opinion created since they married Vellala girls of different - different groups. Hence therefore, those who lived in the West street in six branches at Kaveripoompatinam were given Ariyur and Pranmalai temple, South street in four branches were given Sundarapattinam and its temple, East street by seven branches were given Ellayatrankudi and its temple. The Maragatha Vinayagar was under the custody of Ariyur. They agreed upon the rituals and prayers to be common. After this the six branched were called Ariyurar, four branched as Sundarathar and the seven branched as Ellayatrankudi Nagarathar also Nattukottai Nagarathar.

As the days went by there was difference opinion amongst the Ellayatrankudiyars' and they separated branch wise and met Soundarapandian and requested for different temples. Pandian agreed, the temples given were Mathur, Vairavanpatti (712 AD) Iraniyur, Pillaiyarpatti, Nemankovil, Ellupakkudi (714 AD) and Soorakkudi, Velangudi (718 AD). Henceforth the creation of the nine temples took place. When the population increased there were many branches with in the temples. This is the only community in the world to be divided on the basis of Sivan temples.

During the Kaliyuga year 4262 (1161 AD) Nemankovil's Arunachalam son of Ellanalamudaiyan Muthuveerappa Chetty of Manickam Street, Velangudi at Poongkondrai's five year old daughter, Muthumeenal was taken to the capital by Karunyapandian in the chariot when he as hunting over there. The Nagarathars on knowing this grouped together and decided that the girl should get justice according to the caste practise and the met the Pandya king and asked him to release the girl. The Pandya king said that if had known it was their girl he would not have brought the girl over to the capital. He said that, he had heard that if he handed over the girl, the girl would be killed. He also said that if at all he heard that the girl was killed, they would have to pay eight heads and eight hundred sovereigns of gold and he handed the girl.

The Nagarathars took leave of the king and killed the girl on the way according to the caste regulations. Then they prepared themselves for the punishment ordered by the king. For the seven branches seven heads were ready and there was a question mark over the one remaining head. At that time among the seven branches, Ellayatrankudi, Eraniyur and Pillaiyarpatti were as one branch though they had different temples, it was decided that this branch give an extra head. Henceforth Okkurudayar a branch of Ellayatrankudi came forward to give the extra head. The condition put was that they get the first honour in the temples and mutts including the Viputhi. The Nagarathars accepted. Later they went to the king and stated that they have brought the eight heads and eight hundred sovereigns of gold. The king was so depressed and said, the sin of killing one girl itself is enough, you don't have to give anything and you can go. The Nagarathar's returned back.

During the Kaliyuga year 4389 (1288 AD) there was trouble and Ariyurpattinam was demolished. The sixty-four Vaishya families that stayed there escaped to the Malayala kingdom (Kerela) and started living near the River Korattar. They built a temple for Maragatha Vinayagar and continued the prayers.

During Kaliyuga year 4644 (1543 AD) there was trouble at Nattarasankottai due to robbers and they raped some Nagarathar women. Nagarathars met their Gurus' and requested them to give permission according to their custom to kill them. The gurus did not accept. On the insistence of the Nagarathars the gurus accepted and went to Kasi to have a holy dip in the Ganges.

Nirambia Alagiya Gurukkal alone returned to Thulavur after three years. The Kala mutt guru did not even return after twelve years. Hence some of the Nagarathars went to Ramanathasamy of Thirupunavayil to get upadesam. After twenty-one years during the kaliyuga year 4665 (1564 AD), the guru of Kala mutt came and joined. The Nagarathars met him and explained the happenings. The guru said that those who got dhikshai from Ramanathasamy belonged to Vamisa, henceforth they and their generation have got to get dhikshai from Vamisa generations and gave a mutt at Patharakudi, which is also known as Ellanjeripattinam at Kanakapuram. From then on Nagarathar men had Kala mutt and Patharakudi mutt; the women had Thulavur mutt, which were the three Gurukalams.

Later History

In 1278 AD, Eranikovil and Pillaiyarpatti the two branches of Ellayatrankudi separated completely and decided to live as separate Pangaligals. Till date the two branches have no marriage alliance among themselves.

As the days went by Kala mutt and Patharakudi mutt merged together and now Patharkudi mutt alone is for Nagarathar men as the Gurupeedam.

As days passed by the Nagarathar families which lived around the places of the temple spread to various places. It is described that they lived in ninety-six places and now they live only in seventy-five places.

The Vaishyas were basically traders. One of the groups of traders was called the Chetty. Later this word changed to Chettiar. One who does business is a Chetty is often referred to as a stingy person. There is no population boom for the community. They are very selfish in thinking and they think of themselves and their community.

Silapathikaram, a book written by Elango Adigal, states that the main character in the book Kovalan is a Chettiar. Salt trade was famous during the Pandya regime. After going to many places to do business finally they would converge at Palani during the festival of Thaipoosam and write "Magamai". Magamai is an annual tax paid to the god. According to the capital invested or profit got a percentage is calculated and the magamai is derived. Here they set right their accounts and look at there profits and accordingly write their magamai. Later they give free food to all called "Annadhanam". This can be seen in Palani on a stone engraving, where it states that Kuppan Chetty's son Kumarappa Chetty of Nemam Kovil was the first to do salt trade at Palani with the help of Deivanayaga Pandaram. Usually all Saivaites strictly follow the two beneath i.e.;

1. Pray to Lord Ganesha, Lord Siva and Lord Muruga.

2. No one should do anything during the stars of Karthigai and Thiruvathirai according to the Sastras. But the Nagarathars being ardent devotees of Lord Muruga and Lord Shiva they performed the Karthigai Padumai for their sons and Nataraja's Thiruvathirai for their daughters. The above went against all sastras. No other Saivaite community do these functions, hence these solely belongs to the Nagarathars.

3. The Nagarathars consider the viputhi as a sacred and holy item whereas others consider it just the opposite, since it is got from burning and as ash. The womenfolk of the Nagarathar community put viputhi and the manjal kungumam on their forehead, while the others put manjal kungumam only. The viputhi is considered so sacred that during marriages the oldest lady of the house, even though she is a widower, holds a lamp on the left hand and puts viputhi on the groom and bride. When the Nagarathars travel anywhere they make it a point that they carry viputhi in a special bag called the "viputhi pai". During death also the Nagarathars place viputhi considering it to be a sacred item. No other Saivaite gives so much importance to viputhi unlike the Nagarathars.

4. The Nagarathar community also have people ordained as Nayanmars among the 63 Nayanmars. Karaikal Ammaiyar a lady was ordained as a Nayanmar and was the first person to sing "Thirupathigams". Her Thirupathigams were called "Mootha Thirupathigam". Before Saint Appar Swamigal and Saint Thirugnanasambandhar Swamigal could sing thirupathigams the womenfolk of the Nagarathar community sang thirupathigams. Another person to be ordained as a Nayanmar is Eyarkai Nayanar.

5.Temples(Kovil)

The Nattukottai Chettiars are divided among themselves on the basis of temples called "Nagara Kovils" (Temples of Lord Shiva, since they are Saivaites). They are divided on the basis of nine temples that have many sub divisions. Marriages can take place among the various divisions. One cannot enter into an alliance with in the same division, but in some temples if the sub division is different then the marriage can take place. The temples are the places for the registering of marriages for the Nagarathars. On the day of the marriage or earlier, the bride's and the groom's side have to go their respective temples to register their marriage. The bride would renounce her temple and would be enrolled with the groom. They become a proclaimed member of the community and they are called as a "Pulli". The marriage becomes legally valid. On becoming a member, they start paying their annual subscription to the temple. From the temple on registering, the couples are blessed with the offerings from the respective temples.


The Temples and Divisions are as follows:


1.Ellayatrankudi God : Kailasanathar Goddess : Solnithya Kalyani Branches (PIRIVU) (7) Okkur udaiyar, Pattina samiyar, Peru marudhur udayar, Kazhni vasaka udayar, Kinkini udayar, Pera senthur udayar, Siru sethur udayar

2.Mathoor God : Innutreswarar Goddess : Periya nayaki Branches : (7) Uraiyur udayar, Arumbakoor udayar, Mannur udayar, Manalur udayar, Kannur udayar, Karuppur udayar, Kulathur udayar.

3.Nemam Kovil God : Jayang konda soleeswar Goddess : Soundara nayaki Branch : Ela nalam udayar

4.Eraniyur God : Aatkonda nathar Goddess : Sivapuri Devi Branch : Thiru vetpur udayar

5.Pillaiyarpatti God : Marudhueswar Goddess : Vadamalarmangai Branch : Thiruvetpur udayar

6.Ellupakudi God : Thanthodrieswarar Goddess : Soundaranayaki Branch : Soodamani puram udayar

7.Soorakudi God : Desika nathar Goddess : Aavudaiya nayaki Branch : Pugal vendiya pakkam udayar

8.Vairavan Kovil God : Valar oli nathar Goddess : Vadivudai Ambal Branch : Siru kulathur udayar Sub Branch: (5) Periya Vagupu, Theiyana Vagupu, Pillayar Vagupu, Kazhni vassal udayar, Maru thein thira puram udayar

9.Velangudi God : Kandeswar Goddess : Kamatchi Amman Branch : Kazhni nallur udayar

Inter Kovil Marriages are performed - Exemption: Pillaiyarpatti and Inaniyur will not have alliance in between them as they have brotherly relationship

No marriages performed intra branches, except in the Ellayatrankudi and Mathur.

Reference : http://nagaratharikkiyasangam.org/aboutnagarathar-more.htm ( by Kasivis)

Business community

Nagarathar business people are Hindus, predominantly originating in the Chettinad region[citation needed] of Tamil Nadu. They have been trading with Southeast Asia since the heyday of the Chola empire, but in the 19th Century they migrated to countries throughout Southeast Asia. (See Tamil diaspora)

Nagarathars, also known as Nattukkottai Chettiars, were an important trading class of 19th and 20th century South East Asia and spread to Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Malayasia, Singapore, Java, Sumatra, and Ho Chi Minh City. Changing political and economic situations since that time have caused many of these communities to disappear as their members returned to India or sought other, more hospitable homes.

Chettiars were traditionally involved in occupations like moneylending and wholesale trading. Banks established by Chettiars include the now defunct Bank of Chettinad, and the now ICICI merged Bank of Madurai founded by Karumuttu Thiagarajan Chettiar (an Architect par excellence, Textile Don, highly principled Educationist and Philanthropher), Indian Overseas Bank founded by Shri. M. Ct. M. Chidambaram Chettiar, and Indian Bank founded by Raja Annamalai Chettiar. Nagarathars are known for their philanthropy; building temples, and schools and maintaining them throughout Asia. A married Nagarathar lady is usually addressed as 'Achi' with respect.

Religious influence

Nagarathars spread Hinduism in Asian countries as well as business. Even today, one can find temples dedicated to the Hindu deity, Murugan, spread throughout Asia. There are Thandayuthapani temples in 15 locations in Malaysia, two in Singapore, 50 temples in Myanmar, and two in Ho Chi Minh City. Sri Lanka has three of these temples, as well as the famous Selva Vinayagar Temple (Kandy). There are also temples maintained by Nagarathars in locations across the globe, including North America. Inscriptions within the Karpaka Vinayakar Temple at Pillayarpatti dating between 1091 and 1238 indicate that the Pillayarpatti Nagarattar became the custodians of the temple during the 13th century, in its second growth phase.[2]. Nagarathars are basically Siva worshippers (Shaiviste). They have the tradition of taking Siva Upathesham and for this purpose they have established two Mads.


It is also believed that Kannagi and Kovalan, the prime personalities of the epic Silappatikaram were born in this community (called 'Thanavanigar' by then). Buddhist and Jainist links must be analysed.

'Pattinathar' - a saint, who is believed to be a Nagarathar and was a trader before leaving the worldly pleasures.

Chettinad Cuisine

As apparent from the title of this section, the popular Chettinad cuisine is a special attribute of the Nagarathar Community. Among the food lovers, the community is identified because of their special delicacies.

Some of their common snacks are:

  • Aadi Koozh
  • Vellai Paniyaram
  • Kuzhi paniyaram
  • Masala Paniyaram
  • Sweet Seeyam
  • Paal Kuzhakkattai (Milk and rice recipe)
  • Seepu seedai
  • Thenkuzhal
  • Manokaram
  • Kavuni arisi (Sweet brown rice)

and many more.


Vegetarian main courses:

  • Vegetable Mandi
  • Vazhakkai Karuvattu poriyal (Unripe Banana deep fried)
  • Vazhapoo Vadai (Banana flower vadai)
  • Karunai kizhangu masiyal
  • Vengaya koas
  • Brinjal koasmalli
  • Poricha kuzhambu


Some popular non-vegetarian dishes include:

  • Chettinad Chicken curry
  • Mutton Kola Urundai
  • Uppukandam

Nagarathar Marriage

Nagarathars belong to one of the 9 temples (briefed in the sections below). People within the same temple are considered as siblings. Apparently the bride and groom should belong to different temples if they are to be married. However there are some exceptions to Mathur temple where there are subdivisions within this temple. So marriage among brides and grooms of certain subdivisions are permitted. Generally people from Irani kovil and Pillayar patti will not marry, because they treat each other as brother's & Sisters. Every Nagarathar marriage has to be approved and registered in the respective groom's temple. Once approved, a garland would be delivered on the behalf of the temple authorities on the wedding day and only from there on the marriage would be conducted. This can be assumed synonym to an approval certificate.

Nagarathar marriage is conducted in single day. Even today, though almost all the nagarathar stay away from their nagara village, they prefer to have their son/daughter's marriage in their native village. The marriage in Chettinad in good old days, was more elaborate and complex. The marriage ceremony was long drawn procedure punctuated with various rituals, customs including gift giving for the wellbeing of the newly married and thus marriage was six days affair. Procession of bridegroom (‘mappillai’ ) accompanied by musicians together with another contingent of relatives of the bride especially the ladies with their colourful costumes mostly in ‘Kandangi’ handloom cotton ‘sarees’, used to be fun filled affair. ‘Nadu Veettu Kolam’ drawing with the use of wet rice flour drawn by ‘aachis’.

Before Marriage

There are few formalities before marriage in the nagarathar community.

Pen paarthal

Usually the prospective mother-in-Law, father-in-law and few other close realives go to a common place, to see the bride to be. For recent, the "would be" groom joins his parents though this is not very common. The groom's family is offered a silver bucket with banana and coconut along with beetle leaves and beetle nuts. If the groom and his family like the bride they can take the silver bucket as a token that they like the bride. This is called "Vaali vaanguthal".

Pesi mudithu kolludhal

once the bride is approved by all, they would exchange betel leaves and nuts (vethalai pakku matri kolluthal).This is a confirmation gesture that the bride and the groom are finalized. The bride's parents and grooms parent (now called sambanthi) decide upon a common day discussing with the astrolgers for the marriage

Muhurtha kaal unrudhal

Once the marriage date is finalized relatives arrive 4-5 days before marriage. This is the very first formality related to marriage. A bamboo cane is fitted with mango leaves on the top .Puja is done by iyer and close relatives of the bride and the groom keep manjal and kungumam at 5 places in the cane .Once it is over the cane is tied upstraight. This serves as a notification to others in the surrounding that a marriage is going to be conducted at this house

Veetu padaippu/podhu padaippu

Every family pray to their ancestors in their ancesstral house, which is known as veetu padaippu and all the "pangalis" together perform "podhu padaippu" (joint prayer). In podhu padaippu which is usually conducted at the common house called padaippu veedu, paniayaram (made of rice flour and karuppatti - jaggery) is done by all achi's and each family gets one after the padaippu. The day before marriage pangali's and thaya pillaigal (close relatives) would come to both brides and grooms place to make the nadu veetu kolam and manai kolam

Marriage Day

Mappillai azhaipu

On the day of marriage in the morning before muhurtham, the groom's family arrive at the bride's village but do not enter the bride's home. The mappillai veetar ( groom's side) arrive and wait at some pillayar temple or community centres where the pen veetar (bride's side) headed by bride's father go to welcome them with band. This is called mappillai azhaippu.

Pen edukki kattuthal

When the groom reaches bride's house she is brought to the door and shown to him. In the olden days this was the first official meeting (rather seeing) of bride and groom. For "pen Parkuthal" only the near relatives of the groom see the bride.

Thirupotuthal

The brides maternal uncle and grooms maternal uncle (Mamakarargal) wear mamakara pattu ( a flouroscent pink silk towel) wrapped around .The groom sits in the manai. The brides maternal uncle brings her in the manai

The groom ties ’ kaluthiru–the sacred thread or gold chain or Chettiyar thaali was worn during the day of marriage and a substitute gold thaali was given for regular use. The Kaluthiru is a double piece gold chains generally contains a set of total 34 items of hand crafted gold ornaments including two pendants considered to be the most sacred. The pendants carrying the image of goddess ‘Lakshmi’ at the front side and the icons of ‘Meenakshi Sundareswarar’ ‘Rishaba’ bull in the second row. What is very important to note is that these two motifs viz. Lakshmi and Shiva - Parvathi are oft repeated theme in Chettinad, which are highly revered by the Nattukottai Nagarathar as the former symbolizing protection and prosperity while Shiva Parvathi pair on bull, represents happy family life. The Kaluthiru in Tamil language has two different meanings – ‘Kalutheru’ means the chain on neck while ‘Kaluth - Thiru’, denotes the Lakshmi as Thiru in Tamil indicates Mahalakshmi.

Vaevu irakkuthal

This is a custom which is followed to indicate that wealth in the form of food grains and vegetables are sent from the bride's home by her maternal uncle and their family helped by the groom's maternal uncle (items are carried on the head in baskets). Then it is received at the groom's home. The basket usually contains brinjal and rice

Mamiyar sadangu

This is a ritual where in the mother in law, in a silver plate with small kinnam's in tha will have Vethalai (betel leaf), Cotton,vibhuthi, manjal. Each time she would apply it to herself and then to her daughter in law. This is repeated for all the items.

Poo manam choridhal

the elders of both the sides dip their hands in the bowl with flower petals and take out a few petala and keep it at the the seated coulples folded legs, then on shoulder and throw the petals behind the couple. This is done only by male relatives and not by the woman folk and this symbolizes of blessing the couples

Manjal neeru aduthal

Couple's feet is washed by cousins with manjal neer (turmuric water) Both the samandhis dip their tip of their attire in a turmeric water. Before they used to take bath but in modern days a a formality for the ritual they dip in the turmeric water

Saman parapudhal

The items given as seer (dowry/gift) by the bride's family is exhibited to all the relatives who attend the marriage. This is considered a scale for the wealth and prosperity of the bride's family. It contains mappillai saman (for groom), maamiyaar saman (for mother in law) also. The grooms side also add their gifts (silk saree, dresses cosmetics etc) to the prospective daughter-in-law .

Kumbuttu kattikolluthal

This is a ritual where in the manamagal falla at the feet of elders from both the bride and groom's side with a "kulam valum pillai"(krishna) in her hand. Each time the elders give it to her they bless her when she falls at her feet. This ritual symbolizes that the following generation to be fertile.

Mana pen solli kolluthal

An emotional moment where the bride bids farewell to her family and near and dear ones. It is quite common to see the bride and her family members in tears. The bride gets the blessings of all the elders of the family where she was born.

Kattu soaru unnuthal

During olden days when the groom and their family take the daughter in law to their home, they had to travel for at least a day. Food is packed for them to be consumed on their way. Usually, the groom and their family eat these packed (kattu) food (soaru - rice) and take rest beside some tank/pond which they find on their way. This tradition is still followed in Nagarathar marriages.

Pen azhaippu

This is the event where the bride is formally welcomed at the grooms home and embrace her as a member of their family. The bride and the groom are usually brought to a temple in their native village before being invited to the grooms residence.

The couple would be asked to put their hands into three thavalais (ever silver pots) and take out the contents inside A small game to see who would take over different roles when they run the family.

Nathanar sadangu (done by the bride's sister - in - law (s) which is the same as mamiyar sadangu would be done at the time of pen azhaippu..[3].

Relations

Appachi - Father
Aatha - Mother(Derived from 'Agathal'.Agam means home, Agathal/aatha means the mom @ home.
Aachi - Elder sister
Aaya - Maternal Grandmother
Apatha - Paternal grandmother
Ayya - Grandfather
Annamanndi - Elder brother's wife (annan pendir)
Aythan - Cousin(male) or brother in law (Sister's husband)
Maanni - Brother in law Elder and Sister is younger to Subject (Sister's husband)
Ayithiyandi - Cousin(female) or sister-in law (Husband's sister)
Amman - Uncle
Aithai/Ammamdi - Aunty (Amman pendir)
Koluthanar - Husband's brother
Koluthunavandi - co-sister (Koluthanar pendir)
Kolunthiya - wife's sister
Sakalai - co-brother (kolunthiya's husband)
Machinar - Wife's brother
Naarthanaal - Husband's sister
Peran - Grandson
Peythi - Grand Daughter
Peranmanndi - Grand-Daughter in law
Peythi AghamUdayan- Grand Daughters Husband
Chittappa - Younger Brother of Father (or) Husband of the younger Sister of mother.
Chittappambunddi - Wife of Chittappa (if paternal - Younger Brother of Father)
Chitti - Younger Sister of mother (Maternal)

(Pendir is a traditional Tamil word for a lady)

Nattukkottai chettiyar have a tradition of naming the first born boy with paternal grandfather's name, the first born girl with paternal grandmother and if another boy or girl the name it by maternal grandparents. Most of the chettiyar's follow this religiously, though there has been few mordernization of the typical chettiyar name. The chettiyar names stand as unique identification in the crowd.

COMMON CHETTIYAR NAMES
Azhagappan/Azhagammai Annamalai/Unnamalai Arunachalam
Alamelu (Alarmelu) Chockalingam Chellappan/Chellam
Chidambaram (Th)Deivanai Ganesan (sh)
Gyanambal Karuppiah/Karupayee/Karuppanchetty Kothai
Kannan Kothai Logu
Mangai Meyappan/Meyammai Meenakshi
Murugappan Muthiah/Muthuveerappan/Muthathal Nachammai/Nachiappan
Nagappan/Nagammai Narayanan Palaniappan
Periyakaruppan/Periyanayagi O(U)lagappan/Olagammai O(U)dayappan
Ramanathan Raman/Lakshmanan(for twins) Ramaswamy
Senthil/Santhal Sevugan sigappi
Sivagami(sogu) Somasundaram(somu) Solai/Solachi
Swaminathan Subramaniam(n) Sathappan/Sathammai
Sadayappan Soodhi kudhuthal Thennamai/Thenappan
Thiagarajan Thanirmalai Unnamalai
Umaiyal Vasanthal Valliappan/Valliammai
Velliappan Visalatchi(sala) Yegappan/Yegammai

Pillayar nombu

The Origin of Pillayar Nonbu.[4]


Nagarathars and Pillayar Nonbu  Nagarathars are saivites and the first God to be worshipped in Saivism is Lord Ganesha.  Nagarathars are well known for their magnanimity in sponsoring temple conscerations and Kumbaabishekams.
They follow the traditional Hindu Poojas and festivals ritually.One suchceremony is Pillayar Nonbu.
The origin of Pillayar Nonbu is not clear and not written as original. 

There are various versions of the story as told by the elders:

Philosophy: 1 Lord Ganesha killed demon Gajamugasuran on the day of Sashti in Sathaya star in the moth of Margazi.Since Nagarathars worshipped Lord Ganesha as Maragatha vinayagarin kaveripoompattinam they celebrated this function with faith and fervour.
Philosophy: 2

In Kaveripoompattinam a Nagarathar family teenage girl was ill-treated by her step‐mother and accused of stealing her diamond ring. The girl worshipped Lord Ganesha for 21 days from the month of KARTHIKAI. She counted days by a thread from her saree. On the 21st day from KARTHIGAI, she got an answer from the Lord and her innocence was revealed. This fell on the day of Sathayam and Sashti

Philosophy: 3

Nagarathars are well‐known to travel abroad in ship to East Asian Countries. During one such time a group of Chettiars were stranded in an island after a shipwreck. They counted the days till rescue by taking one thread from their dhoti each day. They were rescued on the 21st day which was in month Margazhi and the star was sathayam with Thithi Sashti


  For the above reasons it became traditional to celebrate this function as a family during MarGazi month on the day when SASHTI HITHI and SATHAYAM star coincides. On that day 21 threads are taken from new dhoti, made into a wick, and embedded in Dough flour with ghee as the fuel. In India, they will keep a flower Called AVARAM  POO as the dayflower. This has 21 petals. All sweet items and typical chettinad snacks are served at the end of function. The elder of the house or the group takes  the IZHAI and offers to all in the family or community. This function is celebrated worldwide by all nagarathars, some SriLankan Tamils  and also a community in Karnataka.  

Settlements

The king of Pandiya gave the Nagarathar community nine villages around Pudukottai to settle. They built a Shiva temple in each of them and created the "9 temple" or "9 koil" division of the community. Initially, the Nagarathars lived in 96 villages surrounding the temple, but as of 2007, they have reduced their size to 74 villages. The koil is used as a primary classification for the community. Members of each temple society treat each other as brothers and sisters or "pangalis" and thus marriage is not allowed amongst members of the same temple. Men and women of different temples marry, and the bride automatically becomes a member of the groom's temple. The koils are:-

Some of these temples have sub-divisions.

  • IIaiyatrangudi: Kazhani Vaasarkkudaiyar, Kinginikkoorudaiyar, Okkurudaiyar, Pattanasamiyar, Perusenthurudaiyar, Sirusenthurudaiyar, Perumaruthurudaiyar
  • Mathoor: Arumbakkur, Kannur, Karuppur, Kulathur, Mannur, Manalur, Uraiyur
  • Vairavankoil: Kazhani Vaasarkkudaiyar, Maruthenthirapuram, Periya vahuppu, Pilliyar vahuppu, Theyyanar vahuppu

Nagarathar villages

The original 80 villages in which the Nagarathar lived are listed as follows:

Therkku Vattagai (South)

# Name
1 Nattarasankottai — 9°52′11″N 78°33′04″E / 9.8698°N 78.5512°E / 9.8698; 78.5512
2 Paganeri — 9°57′57″N 78°35′22″E / 9.9657°N 78.5895°E / 9.9657; 78.5895
3 Madagupatti — 9°59′11″N 78°32′12″E / 9.9863°N 78.5366°E / 9.9863; 78.5366
4 Okkur — 9°56′31″N 78°31′13″E / 9.9419°N 78.5203°E / 9.9419; 78.5203
5 Cholapuram — 9°54′54″N 78°30′05″E / 9.9149°N 78.5013°E / 9.9149; 78.5013
6 Kalayarmangalam — 9°54′17″N 78°31′31″E / 9.9046°N 78.5253°E / 9.9046; 78.5253
7 Kandramanickam — 10°02′47″N 78°37′58″E / 10.0463°N 78.6327°E / 10.0463; 78.6327
8 Vettriyur — 9°54′31″N 78°40′26″E / 9.9086°N 78.6740°E / 9.9086; 78.6740
9 Natarajapuram — 9°55′20″N 78°36′28″E / 9.9222°N 78.6079°E / 9.9222; 78.6079
10 Pattamangalam — 10°02′43″N 78°36′37″E / 10.0453°N 78.6104°E / 10.0453; 78.6104
11 Kollangudi Alagapuri — 9°51′30″N 78°35′25″E / 9.8584°N 78.5903°E / 9.8584; 78.5903
12 Chokkanathapuram — 10°00′33″N 78°35′07″E / 10.0091°N 78.5854°E / 10.0091; 78.5854
13 Alavaakkottai — 10°00′12″N 78°31′01″E / 10.0033°N 78.5169°E / 10.0033; 78.5169
14 Keela Poongudi — 9°57′39″N 78°30′35″E / 9.9609°N 78.5097°E / 9.9609; 78.5097
15 Sakkandhi — 9°51′49″N 78°27′35″E / 9.8635°N 78.4598°E / 9.8635; 78.4598
16 Karungulam — 10°01′30″N 78°36′18″E / 10.0251°N 78.6050°E / 10.0251; 78.6050
17 Aranmanai Siruvayal — 9°57′25″N 78°39′23″E / 9.9570°N 78.6565°E / 9.9570; 78.6565
18 Panangudi — 9°55′58″N 78°36′49″E / 9.9327°N 78.6137°E / 9.9327; 78.6137
19 Sembanoor — 9°59′34″N 78°38′38″E / 9.9929°N 78.6440°E / 9.9929; 78.6440

Mela Vattagai

# Name
20 Kilasivalpatti — 10°10′58″N 78°40′15″E / 10.1827°N 78.6707°E / 10.1827; 78.6707
21 P. Alagapuri
22 Kandavarayanpatti — 9°52′11″N 78°33′04″E / 9.8698°N 78.5512°E / 9.8698; 78.5512
23 Pulangkurichi — 10°16′11″N 78°35′28″E / 10.2698°N 78.5912°E / 10.2698; 78.5912
24 Aavinipatti — 10°12′36″N 78°39′42″E / 10.2099°N 78.6618°E / 10.2099; 78.6618
25 Mahibalanpatti — 10°11′58″N 78°33′48″E / 10.1995°N 78.5632°E / 10.1995; 78.5632
26 Viramathi — 10°10′29″N 78°39′44″E / 10.1748°N 78.6621°E / 10.1748; 78.6621
27 Nerkkupai — 10°14′36″N 78°31′34″E / 10.2433°N 78.5262°E / 10.2433; 78.5262
28 Sirukudalpatti — 10°08′34″N 78°38′54″E / 10.1427°N 78.6483°E / 10.1427; 78.6483
29 A. Thekkalur — 10°11′55″N 78°30′33″E / 10.1986°N 78.5092°E / 10.1986; 78.5092
30 Sevoor — 10°15′35″N 78°35′53″E / 10.2596°N 78.5981°E / 10.2596; 78.5981

Keela pathoor Vattagai

# Name
31 Arimalam10°15′05″N 78°53′19″E / 10.2513°N 78.8885°E / 10.2513; 78.8885
32 Rayavaram10°15′04″N 78°48′42″E / 10.2510°N 78.8116°E / 10.2510; 78.8116
33 Kadiapatti — 10°14′08″N 78°47′02″E / 10.2355°N 78.7838°E / 10.2355; 78.7838
34 Thenipatti — 10°08′29″N 78°51′36″E / 10.1415°N 78.8601°E / 10.1415; 78.8601

Keela Vattagai

# Name
35 Devakottai9°57′02″N 78°49′06″E / 9.9505°N 78.8182°E / 9.9505; 78.8182
36 Thanichaoorani — 9°58′07″N 78°48′44″E / 9.9685°N 78.8121°E / 9.9685; 78.8121
37 Aravayal — 9°59′55″N 78°48′10″E / 9.9985°N 78.8027°E / 9.9985; 78.8027

Mela pathoor Vattagai

# Name
38 Valayapatti
39 Kulipirai— 10°10′57″N 78°23′28″E / 10.1825°N 78.3912°E / 10.1825; 78.3912
40 Nachandupatti10°19′26″N 78°43′24″E / 10.323811°N 78.723305°E / 10.323811; 78.723305
41 Melachivalpuri
42 Koppanapatti
43 Rangiyam
44 Kuruvikondanpatti
45 V.Lakshmipuram
46 Ulagampatti
47 Pon. Pudupatti
48 Vendanpatti
49 Vegupatti
50 Virachilai10°17′49″N 78°42′18″E / 10.296922°N 78.705035°E / 10.296922; 78.705035
51 Panayapatti10°11′03″N 78°24′09″E / 10.1842°N 78.4025°E / 10.1842; 78.4025
52 Mithilaipatti

Pathinaru Vattagai

# Name
53 Karaikudi
54 Kandanur
55 Kottaiyur
56 Uyikondan Siruvayal
57 Kothamangalam
58 Nemathanpatti
59 Ariyakudi
60 Amaravathiputhur
61 Managiri
62 Nachiapuram
63 Konapet
64 Athangudi Muthupattinam
65 Ramachandrapuram
66 Shanmuganathapuram
67 Pallathur
68 Puduvayal
69 Ko. Alagapuri
70 Kanadukathan
71 Ko. Lakshmipuram
72 Palavangudi
73 Chokalingamputhur — 10°09′00″N 78°44′44″E / 10.14999°N 78.745644°E / 10.14999; 78.745644
74 Kallal
75 Kallupatti
76 Siravayal
77 Athangudi
78 Viswanathapuram
79 Sivayogapuram
80 Karaikudi Muthupatinam

Nagarathar Chattirams (Nagara-Chattirams, Anna-Chattirams, ect.)

South India

  • Chennai - Rangoon Nagara Viduthi, 88,Coral Merchant Street, Mannady, Chennai-600001, Tamil Nadu,India Ph 044-25268155
  • Chennai - Devakottaiyar Nagara Viduthi, 114,Coral merchant street, Mannady, Chennai-600001
  • Chennai - Thiruvattriyur Nagara Viduthi, 28,South Mada Street, Thiruvetriyur, Chennai-600019
  • Chennai - Karaikudiyar Nagara Viduthi, 108,Coral Merchant Street, Mannady, Chennai, Tamil Nadu,India
  • Chidambaram -Chidambaram Nagara Viduthi, East Street, Chidambaram 608001
  • Coimbatore -Coimbatore Nagara Viduthi, 29-30,Gowli Brown Salai, R.S.Puram, Coimbatore - 641002. Ph 0422-442891
  • Erode -Erode Nagara Viduthi, 27,Mandram Street, Erode - 638001 Tel: 62382
  • Swamimalai -Swamimalai Nagara Viduthi, East Street, Swamimalai - 612302
  • Karaikudi - Kasi Nattukottai Nagara Chattiram Managing Society, 5,North Vadampooki Street, Karaikudi - 630001. Ph 04565-423458
  • Madurai - Madurai nagara Viduthi, 25,North Chitirai Street, Madurai - 625001 Tamil Nadu, India. Ph: 0452-622368
  • Mayiladuthurai - Nagara Viduthi, 27,Maayuranathar North Mada Vizhagam, Mayiladurai - 609001
  • Nagara Viduthi, Vezlippalayam, Nagapatinam - 611001
  • Nagapatinamaviripoompatinam Poompugar Nagara Viduthi, Kaaviri Poompatinam, Poompugar - 609105
  • Palani Nagara Viduthi, Irakala Madam, Adivaaram, Palani - 624601
  • Pondicherry Nagara Viduthi, Pondicerry Road, Mayelam - 604304
  • Puddukottai Nagara Viduthi, 2569-2570 Sannathi Street, Near Ariyanachiyamman Kovil, Pudukottai - 622001
  • Rameswaram Nagara Viduthi, South Charriot Street, Rameswaram - 630526
  • Thanjavur Nagara Viduthi, 387, P.Pampatti Street, East Vasal, Thanjavur - 613001
  • Tiruchendur Nagara Viduthi, 125, Sannathi Street, Thiruchendur - 628215
  • Tirunelveli,Nagara Veduthi,6,Perarigar Anna Mela Street,Tirunelveli - 627006
  • Tirupparangundram Nagara Viduthi, Theppakkulam Melath Street, Thirupparangundram, Madurai - 625005
  • Tirutani Nagara Viduthi, 15,Naatukottai Chettiar Chatiram Street, Adivaaram, Thirutani - 631209
  • Tiruvaiyaru SN anna Chatram, Bus Stand, Tiruvaiyaru.
  • Tiruvalankaddu Nattukottai Nagarathar Chattiram, Chinna Theru, Thiruvalankaddu - 609810
  • Tiruvannamalai Nagarathar Oyari Madam, Thiruvoodal Street, South Street, Thiruvannamalai - 606601
  • Tiruvarur Nagara Viduthi, 1-2,Nagara Mada Lane, Thiru Manjana Street, Thiruvarur-610002
  • Trichy Nagara Viduthi, 2,Othhamal Street, Trichy - 620002 Ph: 0431-702318
  • Tutucorin Nagara Viduthi, Chetti street, Sea Shore, Tutucorin - 628001
  • Villupuram Nagarathar Community Centre, Ganapathy Nagar(North), Near Katpaadi Railway Gate, Villupuram - 605602
  • Vaitheesawarn Kovil, Vaitheeswaran Temple Nagara Viduthi, South Charriot Street, Vaitheeswaran Temple - 609317
North India
  • Kasi/Varnasi - Sri Kasi Nattukottai Nagara Sataram, Godhowlia, Varanasi 221001 Uttar Pradesh. Ph:321012
  • Ayodhya Nattukottai Nagara Sataram, Natkot Sriram Mandir(temple), Boboo Bazaar, Ayodhya-224123, Faizadad Dist, Uttar Pradesh
  • Allahabad Nattukottai Nagara Sataram, 149,Modi street, Daraganji-Post, Allahabhad-211006, Uttar Pradesh
  • Nasik Nattukottai Nagara Sataram, Karthik Swamy Mandir, Sanichowk, Panchavati, Nasik - 422003, Maharastra
  • Bombay/Mumbai Nagara Viduthi, Block No:10/2, Mulund Colony, Mulund West, Mumbai - 400082, Maharastra State
  • Calcutta Nagaratar House, 34,Ezra street, Kolkatta - 700001, West Bengal
  • Calcutta Nagara Madam, Chetty Brothers, Tarakeswar, West Bengal
Other Countries
  • Penang Nagara Viduthi, 24,China Street, 10200 Penang. TEL:604 - 2615713
  • Kuala Lumpur Wisma Thanavaisya, Malaysia Thanavaisya Association, 23 Jalan Pinggir, 51200 Kuala Lumpur,Malaysia. TEL:603-4044 0452

Chetty Crises in Burma

The worldwide financial depression of the mid 1920’s brought the Nagarathar business to a screeching halt and was referred to then by the newspapers as the “Chetty Crisis”. As commodity prices plunged, Burmese clients were no longer able to pay interest or repay their loans. As a result, the Nagarathars were forced to foreclose on the loans and acquire the land used as collateral.

The vast extent of Nagarathar assets and holdings in Burma were not realized till that point. The Burma Provincial Banking Enquiry Committee (BPBEC) of 1930 and other records indicate that 1498 Nagarathar Family Firms owned a total of three million acres of Burmese paddy fields. This was roughly one third of all the arable land in Burma! The BPBEC also showed that Nagarathar assets had climbed from Rs. 100 million in 1896 to Rs. 1.3 billion in 1930.

Throughout their financial history, the strength of the Nagarathars had been their liquid assets and their ability to efficiently transfer their wealth back to India. However, in 1930, most of their assets were tied up in land holdings in lower Burma. They still owed a considerable amount of money to British banks and the Imperial Bank of India. These banks in India began to pressurise the Nagarathars for returning of loaned capital. In the midst of the depression, the Nagarathars were unable to dispose of their Burma land holdings. Further, there were major geopolitical changes, with the impending fall of the British empire and the looming second world war and then Burmese freedom. With their assets overseas no longer liquid, the Nagarathars could not repatriate funds to pay off the British bank loans in India. The Nagarathars were helpless and many prominent, wealthy Nagarathar families were forced to sell their assets in Chettinad and many became impoverished. In the 1940's , with the establishment of the Alagappa Univesities, the chettiars statred regaining their fame. Even today, the word chettiar in foreign nations as well as India brings a sense of its synonym being as a landlord, rich peron or a rich celebrity.

References

Resources

  • Rajeswary Brown. (1993). Chettiar capital and Southeast Asian credit networks in the inter-war period. In G. Austin and K. Sugihara, eds. Local Suppliers of Credit in the Third World, 1750-1960. New York: St. Martin's Press.
  • David Rudner. (1989). "Banker's Trust and the culture of banking among the Nattukottai Chettiars of colonial South India". Modern Asian Studies 23(3), 417-458.
  • Heiko Schrader. (1996). "Chettiar finance in Colonial Asia". Zeitschrift fur Ethnologie 121, 101-126.
  • Nagarathar Kalaikalangiyam by Meyappa Chettiar
  • The Chettiar Heritage Book
  • Nishimura, Yuko Gender. (1998). Kinship and Property Rights: Nagarathar Womanhood in South India. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0195642732.

External links


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