Wednesday, February 14, 2007

nattukottai chettiar

Origin of the Nattukottai Chettiars - called the Nattukottai Nagarathars
Sri Thendayuthapani Temple not only epitomizes the glory of Lord Muruga, but also that of the Chettiars, once a community of traders, merchant-bankers and moneylenders. They hail from the Sivagangai and Pudukottai districts of Tamil Nadu State in India. They settled down in 96 Villages in these two districts . They are often referred to as Nattukottai Chettiars to distinguish them from other groups of Chettiars. The term "Nattukottai Chettiars" means "people with palatial houses in the countryside". They are also referred to as "Nagarathars" meaning city dwellers, as they lived in ba city called Poompuhar on the east coast of Tamil Nadu, a part of which went under the sea.


Chettinad is a region of the Sivaganga district of southern Tamil Nadu state, India. Karaikudi is known as the capital of Chettinad, which includes Karaikudi and 74 other villages. Chettinad is the homeland of the Nattukottai Chettiars (Nagarathar), a prosperous banking and business community, many of whose members migrated to South and Southeast Asia, particularly Ceylon and Burma, in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The people of Chettinad speak Tamil. Today there is a diaspora of Chettinad people, who live in the USA, Singapore, Malaysia, among other places.
Chettinad is well known for its:
Culinary delicacies: Chettinad is known for its culinary delicacies. Chettinad food, now is one of the many reasons why people get to know Chettinad. Chettinad food is essentially spicy, with a standard full meal consisting of cooked dhal, eggplant (brinjal) curry, drumstick sambar, ghee for flavouring rice, and sweet meats like payasam and paal paniyaram.
Mansions: Chettinad is rich in cultural heritage, art and architecture, and is well known for its houses, embellished with marble and Burma teak, wide courtyards, spacious rooms, and for its 18th century mansions. Local legend has it that their walls used to be polished with a paste made out of eggwhites to give a smooth texture.
Temples: Originally built by early Tamil dynasties like the Cholas, the temples of Chettinad stand testimony to the spiritual beliefs of its denizens. Scattered over the whole place, each temple has its own tank called oorani where water lilies are grown, and used for holy rituals. Even today much of Chettinad's daily tidings are centered around the festivities around the temple. Among the many famous temples, a few are Vairavan Kovil temple, Karpaga Vinayakar temple, Kundrakudi Murugan temple, Kottaiyur Sivan temple.
The nearest airport is Tiruchirapalli airport, 100 kilometers away. The largest town in the area is Karaikudi. Trains that run from Chennai to Rameshwaram stop at Karaikudi and Kottaiyur.
Karaikudi is also known for CECRI, a CSIR laboratory specialising in electro-chemical research. The lab has been operational for more than forty years, and has produced patents and inventions in the areas of battery research, corrosion prevention, paints, etc.
The Nattukottai Chettiars and their Trading Business
The first census in Singapore was held in 1824. The records show the presence of 756 Indians. "The Klings were numerous and respectable as traders. The Bengalees few, and only as menials." (Buckley quoting Mr. Crawford's letter of Jan 1824 from The first 150 years of Singapore by Donald &Joanna Moore). Some of these respectable traders could have been members of the Nattukottai Chettiar community as word had gone to Penang and India that there were business opportunities in Raffles' trading post Singapore, and that there was a need for merchants and money-lenders to provide the much needed finance for the newly established shop-keepers and businessmen.
The Nattukottai Chettiars with their trading experience were delighted to be of service. They established their trading business across the Singapore River at Market Street. Their business houses were known as kittangis - warehouses. The kittangis were long buildings with no partitions. Each of the moneylenders occupied a space with a cabinet and a wooden cashier's box, which they kept inside the cabinet after the day's business. The Chettiars in addition to running the money lending business had invested heavily in properties. A lot of warehouses along the Singapore River near River Valley Road had belonged to them. A good number of Nattukottai Chettiars had established themselves in that part of the city that some roads, Meyappa Chettiar Road, Arunasalam Chetty Road, Narayanan Chetty Road and Muthu Raman Chetty Road, were named after them.

Traditional settlements
The Pandiya king had given the Nagarathar community nine villages around Pudukottai to settle. They built a Shiva temple in each of them and created the now famous "9 temple or "9 koil" division of the community. Presently they live in 96 villages surrounding the Temple. The koil is used as a primary classification for the community. Members of each temple society treat themselves as brothers and sisters or "pangalis" and thus marriage is not allowed amongst members of the same temple. Bride and grooms 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.
Vairavankoil - Periya Vaghupu and Pillayar Vaghupu.

Chettinad cuisine is the cuisine of the Chettinad region of Tamil Nadu state in South India. Chettinad is one of the driest regions of south India. The Chettiar community, who are a majority in this region are a very successful trading community. Chettinad cuisine is one of the spiciest and the most aromatic in India.
Chettinad cuisine is famous for its use of a variety of spices used in preparing mainly non-vegetarian food. The dishes are hot and pungent with fresh ground masalas, and topped with a boiled egg that is usually considered essential part of a meal. They also use a variety of sun dried meats and salted vegetables, reflecting the dry environment of the region. The meat is restricted to fish, prawn, lobster, crab, chicken and mutton. Chettiars do not eat beef and pork.
Most of the dishes are eaten with rice and rice based accompaniments such as dosais, appams, iddiappams, adais and idlis. The Chettinad people through their mercantile contacts with Burma, learnt to prepare a type of rice pudding made with sticky red rice.
Major accomplishments
Some famous people of the community includes Raja Sir Annamalai Chettiar who started the Annamalai University in Chidambaram, Alagappa Chettiar (who built the now famous Alagappa university in Karaikudi) , A.C. Muthiah (one of the main members of BCCI, Board of control for cricket in India), M.A. Chidambaram Chettiar (Chennai's Chepauk stadium is named after him) P. Chidambaram (Current finance minister of India)
Dr. Justice AR. Lakshmanan, Judge, Supreme Court of India(.http:// Kannadasan (

Nagarathar Associations
Bangalore Nagarathar Associationhttp://Bangalore Nagarathar Association