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History of the Nattukottai Chettiars

History of the Nattukottai Chettiars

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This is a full history of narathars and chettiars.
This is a full history of narathars and chettiars.

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Published by: 120shal on Apr 12, 2011
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History of the Nattukottai Chettiars

Nattukottai Chettiars are a people of Indian origin, well known for their financial dealings and hospitality. They are followers of the Hindu religion and worship the Shiva and Muruga deities of the Hindu faith. They belong to a very prolific Business Community, who in olden days moved out of India to foreign lands like Burma, Ceylon, Java, Sumatra, Malaysia, Singapore & Vietnam (Saigon) and spread their Culture in those lands. The Nattukotai Chettiars hail from a place called Chettinad, in South India, an area situated in the South-Eastern region of Tamil Nadu approximately 35 Kms to the west of the coastal line of Bay of Bengal in the district of Sivagangai. It during its initial stages consist of 96 villages but now due to the movement of people out of certain villages, has diminished to about 75 villages, in the near past. Chettinad has well planned towns provided with well defined roadways, reservoirs to store and supply water to the town, a planned market place, temples and everything, providing the basic needs of people.

Chettinad happens to be a dry land with no proper rain which was a major set back for the area. As such due to non availability of any mode of living, people were forced to leave Chettinad to various of parts of the State in search of their living. Devakottai & Karaikudi are two major towns in that region consisting of what is called Maximum Pullies*.

Nattukottai Chettiars are basically Bankers who lend money at nominal interest. They are considered as the Pioneers of Modern Banking. They are the first to introduce what is called as " Pattru (debit), Varavu (credit), Selavu (expenditure), Laabam (profit), Nashtam (loss) " which are all, collectively, known as " Iynthogai (trial balance). "

In a particular Nattukottai Chettiar family Appachi (Father) is considered as the Kartha for all the activities assisted by his Sons. Attha (Mother) looks after the family affairs including the day to day activities of the Vidu (House) in consultation with her Kanavar (husband). The Nagarathar society is divided into Koil Vazhi Nagarthar consisting of Nine Koil (Temple). This division in the society is for the purpose of chosing their alliance and nothing else. Bride and the Bridegroom cannot be from the same Koil as they are considered to belong to the same family and treated as Annan-Thangai (Brother-Sister ). The Nine Koil are as follows : y y y y y y y y y Illaiyathangudi Mathur Vairavankoil Nemamkoil Illupaikudi Surakuddi Velangudi Iranikoil Pillaiyarpatti

Out of these nine Koil Illaiyathangudi, Mathur & Vairavankoil have further Pirivu (Divisions) in their respective Koil. Illaiyathangudi : y y y y y y y Okkurudiayar Pattanasamiyar Kazhanivasakkudiayar Kingginikkurudiayar Perasenthoorudaiyar Perumaruthoorudaiyar Sirusethoorudaiyar Mathur : y y y y y y y Arumbakkoorudaiyar Kannoorudaiyar Karuppoorudaiyar Kulathoorudaiyar Manaloorudaiyar Mannoorudaiyar Uraiyoorudaiyar Vairavankoil : y y y Periya Vahuppu Pillaiyar Vahuppu Theyyanar Vahuppu

In Illaiyathangudi and Mathur Koils the people are permitted to have alliances among the Pirivus and not like the other Koils who are not permitted to have alliances within their Koil. This is because if all these 14 pirivu people move out of their Koil in search of Brides and Bridegrooms it would difficult to find themselves one, hence the exemption.

In Sri Lanka the Nattukottai Chettiars are found carrying out their businesses of money lending, pawn brokering and gold jewelry in Sea Street, Pettah where they have been the main business community since a long period of time.

The Nattukottai Chettiar
By Maxwell Fernando

Prior to the establishment of the first commercial bank the ´Bank of Ceylonµ in the island, it was the Nattukottai Chettiar who provided the Ceylonese all banking facilities, which only a few will realize today. They were emigrant traders from Chettinad in South India, who played an important part in setting up the economic and the credit structure of the country, at a time when the locals were looking forward to a stake in nation building. The dominant role played by them as private bankers, money lenders, financiers, and traders, during the early stages of the country·s economic upsurge cannot be underestimated. They were regarded the most fascinating of all the non-indigenous business communities that had traded in the island. They were a very close knitted conservative community with very little intercourse with the outside world. They are Hindus, and devoted a considerable amount of their time to religious activities. They were known to honor their social and business obligations without any deviation. They followed a code of business ethics, which was not common to other foreigners trading in the country. The Ceylonese had implicit faith in the Chettiars. They borrowed freely from them, and also invested their savings with them. They were always assured of a good return on their investment. Money was often given to them for safekeeping, and the strong box in his house was considered as secure any bank vault in a British bank. They enjoyed a high reputation in the pawn broking business, and the Ceylonese preferred to deal with them rather than with their local counterparts. The Nattukottai Chettiars were the forerunners in modern day finance companies. More than 50% of the deposits of the early finance companies came from this community. They took risks in speculative ventures that the British banks avoided. The current position however is different. It was the disappearance of these Chettiars from the local money market that paved the way for the rapid expansion of the local finance companies. The harsh words such as ´Jews and Shylocksµ used to describe these people seems unjustified. At a time when the British banks mistrusted the indigenous population, it was this community that took all the risks to lend to the Ceylonese. Their interest rates would have been rather on the high side, but they were only lending money they had borrowed from the banks. Farther they had to safeguard themselves against bad debts, which was a common feature. The Nattukottai Chettiars who controlled the economy of the country from about 1875 t 1925, has o during this half century helped in no small way, to promote the economical and the business of the country. During the initial of economical growth, there was During the early stages, they assisted the smooth conduct of trade with India, by discounting the excess Sterling Bills for Rupee bills. Their vast financial recourses in India made this system last until the establishment of the British Exchange Banks in the island, commencing with the Bank of Madras in 1867. Their role as exchange dealers declined thereafter, but their business interests changed within a short period of time, to become the country·s largest money lenders. It was the good reputation they enjoyed with the British Banks during the early stages as Sterling Bill discounting agents that paved the way for them, in their new role, to become the middleman between the banks and the indigenous population who required capital. Coffee was abandoned in the early 1870·s. It was mostly for tea, and later for rubber that the Ceylonese agriculturists and businesspersons needed the finance and credit. During this time of need, it was to the Nattukottai

Chettiar that the local entrepreneurs could turn to for financial assistance, and they were regarded as the official money lenders to the nation. The Chettiars continued in this role until about 1925, and with the world wide trade depression of the early 1930·s, the government was compelled to undertake the task of providing the necessary finances to the fast developing economy. State sponsored institutions as the State Mortgage Bank was set up in 1931. The Bank of Ceylon followed in 1939, and the Agricultural and Industrial Credit Corporation were structured in 1941, for the sole purpose of offering financial assistance to the local segment of the business community, who had no access to foreign lending institutions. With most credit functions now been undertaken by the state, the volume of money lending business of the Chettiars was further reduced. Who were they? All Chettiars had originated from Chettinad, and the Nattukottai Chettiars were considered the elite of all Chettiars, and regarded as the most enterprising of all the trading communities in South India. During the early times they traveled widely in South East Asia looking for new opportunities to make money. Their association with Ceylon extends to the Dutch period, but it was only after the British conquest, that they established themselves firmly in the country. By mid 19th century, the Indo-Ceylon trade was mainly under their control, and largely financed by them. During the early British regime the Nattukottai Chettiars carried out the only form of organized banking. They were often referred to as ´Merchant Bankers of the countryµ, and their name became synonymous with private banking. The Bank of Ceylon considered the first commercial bank in the island was established in1841, as entirely a British concern. With the first coffee crisis of 1848 the Bank of Ceylon failed, but there were many others to take its place. Among them were the Oriental Banking Corporation, the Mercantile Bank, and the Bank of Madras. The Bank of Madras before long assumed control of the Indo-Ceylon trade. This resulted in a further decline in their importance as financiers to the nation. This change of events forced them to change directions, and do the next best thing, rather than cease operations in the island. They joined hands with the British Banks and became their ´Middle Manµ. This was the start of a long association between the Nattukottai Chettiars and the British Banks that lasted until about the early 1930·s. During the mid 19th century, the Ceylonese had no access to the British Bankers, except perhaps to the very wealthy. The Locals were prevented from seeking membership in their social clubs that were frequented by the British bank managers, and other officials. There was no direct communication between the bank officials and the Ceylonese business community. This obstacle was circumvented by the creation of an agency generally referred to as the ´Shroff." This officer is almost unknown in banking circles today. This officer was a native gentleman of sound financial standing, acceptable to society as a person of integrity, who acted as a guarantor for Ceylonese borrowers. These ´guarantorsµ came from the Chettiar community. They had a through knowledge of the individuals who came to them for assistance, and all loans were guaranteed on the payment of a commission both from the bank and the borrower. They played a pivotal role in scrutinizing all applications for loans, and the British Banks would await their recommendation for release of funds to Ceylonese. All Nattukottai Chettiars could not end up in banks, but unlike the Ceylonese, they were well known to all the shroffs either personally or through business connections. Naturally, they were therefore willing to accommodate the Chettiars more freely than the Ceylonese. Their business connections in India also enhanced their credit worthiness with the local British Banks. It is recorded that between the period 1900 and 1925 the British Banks had lent over Rupees 25 million to the Chettiars, who in turn had re-loaned them to the Ceylonese business community at much higher rates of interest. Chetty Crisis

This unholy alliance between the British Exchange Banks ant the Nattukottai Chettiars went on unabated until the bubble burst in 1925. Over lending on the part of a large business undertaking controlled by them, collapsed, with heavy debts both in Madras and Colombo. A number of malpractices as perpetuated by these organizations were discovered at the time of liquidation and winding up operations. It was also discovered that most other organizations were guilty of similar offenses The Banks without any subsequent warning, stopped all credits to the Nattukottai Chettiars A number of such firms were forced to suspend operations, whilst many others were closed down permanently.

World depression of the 1930·s With the Chetty crisis came the world trade depression that effected Ceylon adversely. International prices for tea, coconut, and rubber declined sharply. The banks by then had suspended all credit to the Chettiars; in addition they were forced to tighten their lending policies further. The Chettiars now deprived of bank facilities, were forced to demand the repayment of loans from their Ceylonese borrowers. When the loans were not been repaid, the Chettiars put their promissory notes in suit and foreclosed on their mortgages. Law reports maintained du ring the period 1930 and 1936 are full of law suits filed by the Chettiars against their Ceylonese borrowers. This turned out to be a bad period for the Ceylonese land owner. Many lost their lands to the Chettiars, whilst others ended up in the insolvency courts. Ceylon Banking Commission The sudden suspension of credit both by the banks and the Chettiars to the local business community were sited as the chief cause of the economical crisis that surfaced in the 1930·s. A public cry was raised requesting the State Council to overhaul the entire banking and credit system of the country. This won the approval of the Council, and accordingly a commission was appointed in 1934 with Sir Sorabji Pockhanawala as its Chairman. The report that was published the same year is even today regarded as an invaluable document that portrayed the financial and the economical conditions of the country at that time. Whilst condemning the reckless and indiscriminate manner in which the Chettiars lent money to the Ceylonese, they could not resist the conclusion that then island owned a debt of gratitude to the Chettiars for the country·s economical build up. It was pointed out that the Chettiars formed a distinctive link between the banks and the public, freeing the former from the risk in direct lending. They had performed a very important function by moving capital from places both internal and external to the point of requirement, thereby aiding the economical development of the country. The British enterprise found their own finances to develop the plantation enterprise, but the Ceylonese had no such support from the British or their own savings to help them. The Chettiars who had the capital responded well, and if not for their financial assistance, foreign involvement in the country would have been much greater, with hardly any competition from the local community. The commission was of the opinion that with the Chettiar Crisis of 1925 and the World Depression of the 1930·s that surfaced successively within a short period of time, were responsible for the steady decrease in the financial stake held by the Nattukottai Chettiars in Ceylon, thereafter. The commission realized that they could not continue in their role as money lenders, and financiers to the nation, and recommended to the government the establishment of a state aided bank. The formation of the Bank of Ceylon in 1939 was the outcome of this proposal. Other factors that saw to the demise of the Chettiars in Ceylon. (1) (2) (3) The enactment of the Business Names Regulation Ordinance of 1918. The Money-lending Ordinance No 2 of 1918. The Pawnbrokers Ordinance No 13 of 1942.

(4) (5) (6)

The Exchange Control Act No 24 of 1953. The Income Tax Ordinance of 1932. The Estate Duty Ordinance No 1 of 1938.

Apart from the above legislative enactments there were many other factors that effected their position in the country. (1) The Establishment of the Bank of Ceylon in 1939 (2) The Establishment of the State Mortgage Bank in 1931. (3) The establishment of the Agricultural and Industrial Credit Corporation of Ceylon of 1943. (4) The Citizenship Act No 18 of 1948. (5) The Indian and Pakistani Residents Act No 3 of 1949. (6) The Finance Act No 11 of 1963. (1) Part 3 of the finance act prohibited any foreign person or firm to indulge in pawn-broking business in the island after 1st January 1964. (2) Part 3 of the act also prohibited any foreign individual or firm to indulge in money lending, after 1st January 1964. This function was entrusted to Commercial Banks.

(3) This act also prohibited any foreign individual or firm to repatriate abroad any profits or dividends earned from any business in the country. Such earnings had to be deposited in ´blocked accountsµ (4) Part 6 of this act levied a 100% tax on the purchase of any land or immovable property, effective 1st January 1964.

The involvement of the Nattukottai Chettiars in the economical development of the country. According to the Ceylon Banking Commission Report issued in 1934, they had played no mean part in the economical development of the country. They had formed an indispensable link between the banks and the Ceylonese borrowers, freeing the former from the risk of direct lending. They were responsible for paving the way for the local entrepreneurs to actively take part in the development of the country. Their presence in the country dates back to the early 19th century when the country witnessed positive signs of development, which provided opportunities for the employment of capital. They not only mobilized their own resources, but also took loans to supplement their means. They specialized in the task of moving surplus capital from places, both internal and external to the point of requirement, thereby helping to develop the country. Had it not been for the ready response the enterprising Ceylonese got from the Chettiars, the foreign involvement in the country would have been greater and more serious. The highly complicated nature of local mortgages did not prevent the Chettiars from investing so freely in them. The large scale opening up of jungle land for the cultivation of coconut during the early stages of development would not have become a possibility, had it not been for the financial assistance available from the Chettiar community. They were most liberal with the granting of credit to locals, and the papers processed with the least amount of delay. He did not require perfect titles to the deeds, but was always ready to accommodate the genuine businesspersons, as well as the speculator, the exporter, and the land owner trying to raise a dowry for his unmarried daughter. The Chettiars system of credit had been criticized on the grounds of been too easy, both to the borrower and to the le nder. Despite these

shortcomings, the system worked surprisingly well up to the time the government was forced to intervene. The Chettiars, it is said, never borrowed beyond their capacity, and there was often inter-Chetty lending, which in turn brought stability to their credit structure? They were very liberal as securities they secured from the borrowers. Subsequent to the depression, the common forms of security taken by them were promissory notes, cheques, even post dated cheques, and I.O.Us. ´The Chettiars were found everywhere, and they engaged in anything and everything," says Weerasooria in his book on the Nattukottai Chettiars. Apart from financing the local trade, they were the chief importers of rice from India, and prime exporters of tobacco to that country. Some of them were so well organized, so as to have their own ships to transport their goods. The Indian mercantile communities too were very appreciative of their financial involvement in Ceylon. With their own funds they had set up pawn shops, financed the movement of goods from the interior. They had even undertaken estate finance, and had supplied credit to both European and non European estates alike. ´They are planters, merchants, transport agents, Mill owners, contractors, hardware merchants, estate suppliers and engineers. With their low standard of living, and with the assistance they receive from the Europeans, they in time to come, will make impossible for Europeans to compete with them." They enjoyed a monopoly in rice and curry stuff trade, the import trade that was in the hands of the Europeans earlier, and with their unlimited capital, they would oust both the Europeans and Ceylonese and drive them out of business. Before the depression of the 1920·s their business in the island was estimated at Rs: 150 Million. All the complaints made against the Chettiars revolved round ´interest rates," but in most cases they were well within the limits sanctioned by the legislature. In exceptional cases however, rates varied between 10% and 200%, depending on the circumstances of the case. It is for these reasons that even today, when a person tries to strike a hard bargain, he is often referred to as a ´chatty." Witnesses who gave evidence before the commission used such terms as, ´usurious,"´iniquitous,"´prohibitive," and ´exorbitant," when referring to the rates of interest charged by them. They often realized their debts at short notice, and in the event of a failure, they would foreclose on the mortgages. During the crisis about 75% of the land owners were indebted to them. Most of the land they owned was from foreclosures. It was however pointed out that most of the acquisitions were not of their free will, but forced upon them by their debtors, who preferred to transfer their properties and houses to the Chettiars rather than face mire difficulties later. The Chettiars as a rule preferred liquid cash rather than get themselves tied down to permanent investments in Ceylon. The Chettiars no doubt performed a useful function, but their intervention in the financial affairs of the country could be viewed as objectionable. It only goes to suggest that the people of the country were not sufficiently trusted by the British lending institutions to receive credit. Under the circumstances they had no option but to turn to the Chettiars, which meant that the Ceylonese were loaded from the very outset, with high interest rates, unlike their British counterparts who had excess to cheap finance. This retarded commercial growth and kept sections of the co mmunity in a state of permanent indebtedness. The Chettiars no doubt resorted to dubious practices and often charged usurious rates of interest, but in the greater interest of the country·s economic progress, which the Chettiars helped to usher in, the Ceylon Banking Commission Report may be regarded as almost a blank testimonial in favor of the Nattukottai Chettiars in Ceylon. They had been responsible for directing finances to areas that the banks otherwise would have found difficult to reach. They were however quick to condemn the activities of Afghans, and labeled them as the most rapacious type of money lender ever to be found in Ceylon. They even recommended that they should be banned from entering the country. They offered no sympathy, and their borro wers were

mainly those in the poorer and the lower middle class of society. They fattened themselves on the misery and improvidence of the poor. The Chettiars on the other hand were a different lot. The Ceylonese who opened up land during the initial stages borrowed extensively from Chettiars, They were found most sympathetic towards the local borrowers, and they were regarded a valuable asset to the country.

London Nagarathar Sangam
Welcome to London Nagarathar Sangam website. The Nagarathar Community originated in Cauvery Poompatinam under the chola kingdom. The Nagarathar also known as Nattukottai chettiar community concentrated on business, especially money lending business. The Chola kings encouraged the nagarthars to travel out The . nagarathars from Cauvery Poom Pattinam traveled on boats to Srilanka, Burma, Vietnam, Indonesia and Malaysia to spread their business. Apart from business nagarathars also spread Hinduism in these countries. Even today in all these countries we will find a Murugan temple. There are Murugan temples in Penang, Singapore and Sri Lanka which were built by the nagarathars. Nagarathars also showed interests in the field of education and maintenance of temple. TEMPLES: The Nagarathars aka Nattukottai Chettiars are divided among themselves on the basis of temples called "Nagara Kovils". 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 : (7) Okkur udaiyar, Pattina samiyar, Peru marudhur udayar, Kazhni vasaka udayar, Kinkini udayar, Pera senthur udayar, Siru sethur udayar 2. MATHUR 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 NAGARATHAR VILLAGES : Initially there were 96 villages were the Nagarathars lived, over the period of time it has been reduced. They were divided as follows: I. Therkku Vattagai (South)

1. Nattarasankottai 2. Paganeri 3. Madugupatti 4. Okkur 5. Cholapuram 6. Kalayarmangalam 7. Kandramanickam
II. Mela Vattagai

8. Vettriyur 9. Natarajapuram 10. Pattamangalam 11. Kollangudi Alagapuri 12. Chokkanathapuram 13. Allavakkotai

14. Keela Poongudi 15. Sakkandhi 16. Karungulam 17. Aranmanai Siruvayal 18. Pannagudi 19. Sembanoor

20. Kilasivalpatti 21. P. Alagapuri 22. Kandavarayanpatti 23. Pulangkurichi
III. Keela pathoor Vattagai

24. Aavinipatti 25. Magilvazhampatti 26. Viramathi 27. Nerkkupai 33. Kadiapatti

28. Sirukudalpatti 29. A. Thekkalur 30. Sevoor

31. Arimalam 32. Rayavaram
IV. Keela Vattagai

34. Thenipatti

35. Devakottai
V. Melapathoor Vattagai

36. Thanichaoorani 43. Rangiyam 44. Kuruvikondanpatti 45. V.Lakshmipuram 46. Ulagampatti

37. Aravayal 48. Vendanpatti 49. Vegupatti 50. Virachilai 51. Panayapatti

38. Valayapatti 39. Kulipirai 40. Nachandupatti 41. Melachivalpuri

42. Kopanapatti
VI. Pathinaru Vattagai

47. Pon. Pudupatti 63. Konapet 64. Athangudi Muthupattinam 65. Ramachandrapuram

52. Mithilaipatti 73. Chokalingamputhur 74. Kallal 75. Kallupatti

53. Karaikudi 54. Kandanoor 55. Kottaiyur 56. Uyikondan Siruvayal 57. Kothamangalam 58. Nemathanpatti 59. Ariyakudi

66. Shanmuganathapuram 76. Siruvayal 67. Pallathur 68. Puduvayal 69. Ko. Alagapuri 77. Athangudi 78. Viswanathapuram 79. Sivayogapuram 80. Karaikudi Muthupatinam

60. Amaravathiputhur 70. Kanadukathan 61. Managiri 62. Nachiapuram 71. Ko. Lakshmipuram 72. Palavangudi

Researched and Compiled by Pl. Chidambaram 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: . 1. Before 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.

2. Leather Age (from 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. 3. 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. 4. 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. 5.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 ninetysix 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. MATHUR 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 Marriages are performed only intra Kovils - 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.

http://nagaratharikkiyasangam.org/nagaratharlinks.htm

About the Nattukottai Nagarathars
The Natukkottai Nagarathars are a community of business people originally from the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Nagarathars trace their history to the port town of Kaveripoompattinam in Chola Nadu. Legend has it that following persuation by the local king, they migrated to their present day location in what was then Pandya Nadu where they originally occupied 96 villages. That number is now reduced to about 75 villages, collectively known as Chettinadu spread in the pudukottai, Sivagangai and Ramnad districts. Recorded history of the Nagarathars is available from the 17th century. At this time, the community was primarily involved "in small-scale, itinerant salt-trading activities in the interior regions of Tamil-speaking South India. By the eighteenth century, some individuals had extended their business operations as far south as the pearl, rice, cloth, and arracktrade of Ceylon' others as far north as the rice and wheat trade inCalcutta." (Rudner). In the 19th and early 20th centuries, the Nagarathars provided financeto the agrarian economies of Burma, Malaysia, Ceylon, Vietnam and theMadras Presidency. Following World War II and the nationalistic movements inthese nations, the Nagarathars lost most of their wealth in these areas. Some Nagarathars transferred large amounts of their wealth to India and survived by investing in industry and banking. However, perhaps 80 to 90 percentof the caste was "forced to scramble for new employment opportunities,often working as employees in government and business offices...." (Rudner) The Natukkottai Nagarathars were essentially money lenders who travelled all over the south east Asia and even to some parts of southern Africa to ply their trade. They were pioneers of modern banking in all the nations that they went to. They were the first to introduce pattru (debit), varavu (credit), selavu (expenditure), laabam (profit), and nashtam (loss).These are collectively known as iynthogai and constituted what is now known as the trial balance. It is noted in the Gazetteer of the Madura district (Thurston) that "of the profits of their commercial transactions, a fixed percentage (called magamai) is usually set aside for charity. Some of the money so collected is spent on keeping Sanskrit schools, but most of it has been laid out in the repair and restoration of the temples of the south, especial attention being paid to those shrines (padal petta sthalangal, as they are called) which were hymned by the four great poet-saints, Manikya Vachakar, Appar, Tirugnana Sambandhar, and Sundaramurti." The Chettiars, legendary for their business acumen, lived simply and devoted, over the years, considerable sums of money to the establishment of comfortable choultries, feeding houses, and Vedic and Sastraic patashalas. In the modern day, they have committed their wealth to hospitals, schools, and universities in addition to continuing their support of temples and religious causes. Today, Chettinad has well-planned villages that are home to the famous "naatu kottais" ("country forts"), the palatial homes of the Nagarathar community. Each village has its own temples, reservoirs for water storage,and a planned market place. The two major towns are Karaikudi and Devakottai. The Chettiars are also legendary for their food and hospitality. Today,restaurants promising "Chettinad cuisine" can be found all over India.However, the best way to experience the hospitality and cuisine is to attend a Chettiar wedding. The variety of food is astounding. Marriages take place between families of different kovils. There are nine main kovils: Ilayathangudi, Mathur, Vairavan, Neman, Illupaikudi, Surakudi,Velangudi, Irani, and Pillaiyarpatti. Of these nine temples three have further subdivisions (pirivus). They are: Ilayathangudi: Okkurudaiyar, Pattanasamiyar, Kazhanivasal, Kinnginikurudaiyar,

Perumaruthudaiyar, Persenthoorudaiyar, Sirsenthoorudaiyar Mathur: Arumabkkoorudaiyar, Kannoorudaiyar, Karupoorudaiyar, Kulathoorudaiyar, Manaloorudaiyar, Mannoorudaiyar, Uraiyoorudaiyar Vairavan: Periya vaguppu, Pillaiyar vaguppu, Theyyanar vaguppu In general, marriage alliances are permitted between temples only, not within temples. However, the Ilayathangudi and Mathur kovils allow alliances between the pirivus within their temple, but not within the pirivu. Todays chettiars, are into almost everything under the sun fortunately in an endearing role in their chosen field. All said and done Chettiars are the most upcoming and united community throughout the world. The traditions of kinship in this community have maintained a sense of identity that is important to retain for future generations. It is the intention of the Bangalore Nagarathar Sangam to facilitate this process in our chosen area of residence.

References:
Rudner, David West, Caste and Capitalism in Colonial India: The Nattukottai Nagarathars, University of California Press, 1994. Thurston, Edgar and K. Rangachari, Castes and Tribes of Southern India, Asian Educational Services, 1993, vol. 5.

Nagarathar History by PL.Chidambaram
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: 1. Before 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." ² 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. 2. Leather Age (from 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. 3. 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 Va ishyas 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. 4. 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. 5. 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.; a. Pray to Lord Ganesha, Lord Siva and Lord Muruga. b. 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. 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. 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. TEMPLES: 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 : (7) Okkur udaiyar, Pattina samiyar, Peru marudhur udayar, Kazhni vasaka udayar, Kinkini udayar, Pera senthur udayar, Siru sethur udayar 2. MATHUR 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 NAGARATHAR VILLAGES : Initially there were 96 villages were the Nagarathars lived, over the period of time it has been reduced. They were divided as follows: I. Therkku Vattagai (South) 1. Nattarasankottai 2. Paganeri 3. Madugupatti 4. Okkur 5. Cholapuram 6. Kalayarmangalam 7. Kandramanickam II. Mela Vattagai 20. Kilasivalpatti 21. P. Alagapuri 22. Kandavarayanpatti 23. Pulangkurichi III. Keela pathoor Vattagai 31. Arimalam 32. Rayavaram IV. Keela Vattagai 35. Devakottai V. Melapathoor Vattagai 38. Valayapatti 39. Kulipirai 40. Nachandupatti 41. Melachivalpuri 42. Kopanapatti VI. Pathinaru Vattagai 53. Karaikudi 54. Kandanoor 63. Konapet 64. Athangudi Muthupattinam 73. Chokalingamputhur 74. Kallal 43. Rangiyam 44. Kuruvikondanpatti 45. V.Lakshmipuram 46. Ulagampatti 47. Pon. Pudupatti 48. Vendanpatti 49. Vegupatti 50. Virachilai 51. Panayapatti 52. Mithilaipatti 36. Thanichaoorani 37. Aravayal 33. Kadiapatti 34. Thenipatti 24. Aavinipatti 25. Magilvazhampatti 26. Viramathi 27. Nerkkupai 28. Sirukudalpatti 29. A. Thekkalur 30. Sevoor 8. Vettriyur 9. Natarajapuram 10. Pattamangalam 11. Kollangudi Alagapuri 12. Chokkanathapuram 13. Allavakkotai 14. Keela Poongudi 15. Sakkandhi 16. Karungulam 17. Aranmanai Siruvayal 18. Pannagudi 19. Sembanoor

55. Kottaiyur 56. Uyikondan Siruvayal 57. Kothamangalam 58. Nemathanpatti 59. Ariyakudi 60. Amaravathiputhur 61. Managiri 62. Nachiapuram

65. Ramachandrapuram 66. Shanmuganathapuram 67. Pallathur 68. Puduvayal 69. Ko. Alagapuri 70. Kanadukathan 71. Ko. Lakshmipuram 72. Palavangudi

75. Kallupatti 76. Siruvayal 77. Athangudi 78. Viswanathapuram 79. Sivayogapuram 80. Karaikudi Muthupatinam

http://bangalorenagarathar.com/other%20nagaratharlinks.html

Nagarathars: Wedding
Paesi Mudithukuluthal(engagement) Once the 'bride-groom' match has been fixed(Subjected to one's wish,requierements and traditions such as horoscope matching etc.....etc.....) the next step will be engagement. It is conducted generally either in bride's or groom's place. During the function both families friends, relatives and pangalis will be gathered and they finalize matters viz wedding date, dowry to be given to the bride(jewels, cash, pinmurai, mamiyar saaman etc...etc...) other important matters pertaining to wedding and the highlight of the function is to confirm the wedding by writing down both the bride's and groom's name to be married along their family's initial in a note book with 'manjal' applied on all the four corners of the note book. Generally this serves as the confirmed note. Two copies are taken and given to both the parties. Later, elders from both the families carry the book along some flowers and lime to the prayer's room and place it in front of the God thanking him for finalising the wedding. Also all the 'murais' are noted down in a note book called 'Murai Chittai' - which carries an agenda of what to give right from the wedding till the baby is born on each occassion. Now it has become a norm to conduct this generally in the evenings a day or two before the wedding. The party going to the other's place takes along things like flower, co-conut, beetle leaves, sandal, kum-kum, fruits, biscuits and chocolates etc...etc...in vessels and buckets. While leaving they are also acknowledged by giving cash, fruits, vessels and flowers. Food is served grandly. Thus, paesi mudithukulum function comes to an end. Now, as the wedding date is fixed, both the parties carry on with their wedding arrangements. Nagarathar weddings are generally a very long procedure. Thus, right from the engagement, in regular intervals there are lot of traditional practices involved and let us see those in the coming issues one by one. Mukurthakkal Unrudhal Once the bride-groom match has been fixed, next procedure is to structure the mukurthakkal. Mukurthakkal is a long bamboo cane. On an auspicious day, that falls prior to the wedding, mukurthakkal should be structured in both the bride and groom·s house, in the north east corner of the valavu vassal. Mango leaves should be tied at the end of the corner with manjal and kumkum applied. Once the mukurthakkal has been structured, the family members are not suppose to attend any un auspicious occasions. Inviting the close resltives Once the mukuthakal is erected, close relatives like grandparents, sisters and family should be invited for the wedding by the parents of the groom and bride. This is to denote the respect for the elders in the family. Both the father of the groom and the bride will have to sit in the mat (Thadukku) in the prayer room in their respective houses and formally invite their parents (Paternal grandparents) for the wedding. Earlier the lamp should have been lit and two co-conuts placed in a silver vessel. Then they make a visit to the maternal grandparents and sisters (if any) houses and invite them for the wedding. In return their relatives acknowledge by giving some cash (Rs5 or Rs 10) along with some beatle leaves, while leaving. This is referred to as "pakku panam". PAAKKU VAITHAL: Registration takes place three days prior to the wedding in their respective nagara koil.

Among the pangalis, two of them will pay a visit and confirm the wedding by stating their temple, pirivu (if any) date, time along with family identity. Thus the wedding gets authorized and the couple become a registered 'pulli' of the nagarathar society. As a token of acknowledgement temple's garland will be sent on the wedding day which is known as 'koil malai.' The above procedure is called as pakku vaithal. -ARASAANIKAL KATUDHAL: Arasanikal is a term that has been derived from Arasan aanai kal(By the order of the king). In the ancient days Weddings took place in front of the honorable king. When the population started to grew, it was difficult for the king to be present on all weddings. So, an arrangement was thus made to denote the presence of the king. That arrangement is referred to as arasanikal katudhal. While the arasanikal(i.e. a stick) is tied and wrapped in leaves, someone should blow the sangu. In front of the wedding stage, arasanikal must be erected. A square like structure is built, in which the arasanikal is placed in the centre supported by soil at the base. The structure should be filled with milk and coral . Above this few long sticks should be placed in a supportive manner and finally covered by some mango and arasa leaves. The above procedure must be done by the pangalis. Before the wedding starts, priest performs poojas in honor of the arasanikal. They keep pongal and arasanikal must be untied after the 'Pen Azhaippu'. MAATRU KATTUDHAL: On top of the weeding stage, a saree in non-black colour which is referred to as "maatru' must be tied by the dhobi. This was done in cautious to prevent any lizards or insects falling over the couple. This should be done during the previous day evening after the arasanikal has been tied.

Nagarathars: History
WHY ARE THEY KNOWN AS NATTUKOTTAI CHETTIARS AND NAGARATHARS ? Nattukottai Chettiar refers to their affluence which dates from the beginning of the 20th Century when their financial operations overseas proved great success. Those Chettiars who amassed huge fortunes as result of their business enterprise in Burma built huge homes, more or less mansions indigenous in style, in their ancestral villages. Hence the name "Nattu ² Kottai" for these mansions, which literally mean "country forts". The other name Nagarathars simply means those who belong to a trading community. NAGARATHAR HISTORY Oppressed by a certain ruler, the Vaisyas of lunar race living in the town of Santhyapuri emigrated in a body to Kancheepuram in the Tondamandalam country in the year 204 kaliyuga. The King of Kancheepuram gave them permission to settle in his country and made grants of lands, temples and Madams to them. They stayed there for a very long time, but being troubled by heavy taxes and fines, they left that part of the country about 2312 kaliyuga and settled in Chola country. The Chola King being impressed by them, bestowed on them the privilege of placing the crown on the head of the new ruler at the time of coronation. In those days, the town of Kaveri-poompattinam is said to have been a flourishing state, and in it Vaisyas of other countries occupied the North Street. Being unwilling to disturb them, the King made the new settlers occupy the east, west and the south streets. As a mark of respect, they were allowed to use flags with the figure of a lion on them and use golden vessels (kalasam) in their houses. They all at the instance of the King, became disciples of Isanya Sivachariyar of Pathanjalikshetra (Chidambaram). About 3775 kaliyuga, Puvanthi Chola Raja imprisoned several of the Vaisya women, whereon all the 8,000 families destroyed themselves leaving their male children to be taken care by a religious teacher named Admanadhachariar. In all 1,502 children were thus brought up. Later Puvanthi Chola fell ill, and knowing his recovery is impossible, sent for the Vaisya boys and asked them to attend to the coronation of his son, Rajabushana Chola. But they said they were all bachelors and could not comply with his request. Thereupon the King consulted various elders and gurus at his Court and found that the Vaisyas could marry the young women of the Vellala community. After prolonged consultations and negotiations with the leaders of the Vellala community, it was agreed that Vellala young women would marry the Vaisya young men. But the young Vaisya men, while willing to marry Vellala girls, were emphatic that they would not give their children in marriage to Vellala children. After some protest the Vellala folks agreed to this. Under the royal patronage, mass marriage was performed. The last migration of the Chettiars within Tamil Nadu was from Chola Nadu to Pandya Nadu and this came about by a request made by Soundaraja Pandiyan King to Price Rajabushana Cholan. The Pandiyan King had approached the Cholan Prince for some good citizens and Vaisyas after his country was submerged for sometime due to unprecedented deluge, which had caused massive destruction to people, property and cattle. The Chola Prince being sympathetic and finding the plea reasonable persuaded some Vaisya merchants to migrate to the neighbouring kingdom. But the Vaisyas pointed out they are not agreeable for the community to be separated as they would like to stay united wherever they are. Thereupon, the Chola Prince permitted them to migrate enmasse. As promised the Pandiya king allotted the new Vaisya immigrants some well-defined territory in his country, west of the sea, north of the river Vaigai, east of the mountain Piran ² Malai and south of the river Vellaru. It was here that they first built the community centre called Ilayatrakudi Nagaram and the people who settled in this central Nagaram came to be called Nagarathars. Then they built the first

temple, to be followed in course of time by eight others. The present area of Chettinad thus formed part of Pandya Kingdom until the advent of the Nayak rulers of Madurai, who held sway over the territory during the 16th century. At the beginning of the 18th century, Raghunatha Sethupathy (1674 ² 1710), the ruler of Ramnad defeated the Nayak army of Princess Mangammal in 1702 and secured complete freedom for his little kingdom. Between the 14 th and 17thcenturies, there were periodical incursions by Muslim chieftains, both from the north and the south, as well as petty feuds between Ramanathapuram and Sivaganga principalities. The consequent insecurity as well as growth of the Chettiar population led to their gradual dispersal into nearby villages and thus the 96 villages came into existence. By 1800 the British had established their rule in South India and restored relatively peaceful conditions. The Chettiars then moved closer to the centre of their settlement from the relatively far off villages, and the number of Nagarathar villages shrank to the present 78.

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Nagarathar Marriage Rituals
Nag ar ath ar mar riag ge is c o n du cte d f or sig le d ay. Eve n t od ay,t h ou g h a lm o st a ll t he na g arat h ar st ay aw ay fr o m th eir na ga ra villag e,th ey pr ef er to ha ve th eir s on /d a ug hter 's m arriag e in t h eir n ativ e v illa g e.Th e m arr ia ge in C h ettina d in g o od old da ys,w as m or e elab or ate an d c o mplex. The m arria ge c ere m o ny wa s lo n g draw n pr o ce d ure p u n ctu ate d with v ar io u s rit u als, c ust o ms in clu ding gift g ivin g f or the we llb ein g o f the new ly m arried a nd t h us mar riag e was six day s a ff air. Pr oc e ss io n o f bride gr oo m ( µm ap pillai¶ ) ac c o mp a nie d by m us ic ian s t o get her wit h anot h er c o nting e nt o f relative s o f the brid e es pe cially t he lad ie s with t he ir c olo urf ul c o st um es m o stly in µKa n da n gi¶ h a nd lo om c ott o n µ s are es¶, u s ed t o be f u n filled a ff air. µ Na du Veett u K o la m¶ dr awing w ith t he u se of wet rice flo ur draw n b y µaa c his¶ a n d t he w o od e n

Bef re Marriage
ther e are few f orm alities b ef ore m arr ia ge in t he n a gar at ha r c o m mu n ity.

Pen parku hal
Usu aa ly t h e p ro s pe ctiv e m oth er-in- L aw ,f at he r-in-law an d f ew ot her c los e r ea liv es go to a c o mm o n pla ce ,t o se e t he br id e t o be.

Pesi mu ithu kollu hal
o nc e th e bride is a ppr o ve d by a ll,t he y wo uld ex ch a ng e bet el lea ve s a nd n uts( vet h alai p akk u m atri k o llut ha l).T his is a c on fir mat io n ge stu ere t hat t he br id e an d th e gr o o m ar e fin aliz ed.T he bride' s p ar ent s a n d gr o om s p are nt( n ow c alle d sa mb a nt hi) de cide upo n a c om m on d ay disc u ss io ng t h e a str olger s f or t he marr iage

Muhurtha kaal unru hal
Onc e th e m arriag e d ate is f ina lize d re alive s a rrive 4 da ys bef or e m arr ia ge.T his -5 is t he v ery f ir st fo rm ality re lte d to mar riag e.A bam b o o c a ne is f itted wit h ma ng o le ave s o n t h e t op p uja is do n e a nd clo se re lat ives of t he br id e a nd t h e gr o o m k ee p ma nj al a nd k u ng u ma m at 5 plac es in t h e c a ne . o nc e it is over t h e c an e is tie d up st aright.T h is ser ve s a s a n otif icat io n t o oth er s in th e s urr o u nd ing t hat a marr iage is g oing to b e co nd uct ed at t his h o u se

Veetu padaippu/podhu padaippu
Ev ery h o u se ,t hey pr ay t o t h eir a n sc est or s w hic h is kn ow n a s v eet u p a da ip pu na d all t he "p a ng alis " t o get her p erf or m p od h u p ad aipp u.I n p o d h u p a da ip pu w hich is u su ally c o nd u cted at t he c om m o n p ad aipp u v eed u, a niay ar am (m ad e of ric e flo u r p an d k ar up patt i) is d on e b y all a c hi' s a n d ea c h f am il g ets o ne after t he pa da ip pu.T h e da y bef or e m arriag e p an g ali's a nd t ha ya p illa ig al wo u ld c o me to bot h bride s a nd gr o o ms pla ce to m ak e t he n ad u v eet u k olam a n d m a n ai k olam

On the day of marriage Mappillai azhaipu
On t he da y of m arria ge in t he m or nin g b ef ore m u h urt ha m ,t he gr o o m's f am ily arrive at t he bride' s v illa ge b ut d o n ot e n ter th e b rid e' s h om e.Th e ma pp illa i

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veet ar( r oom' s s e ) ar rive and wait at s om e pillayar t em ple or c om m n ity centres where t he pen veetar ( r ide's side) headed by bride' s f at her go t o welc ome them wit h band.This is called m appillai az haippu.

Pen edukki kattuthal
When the gr oom reac hes br ide's house s he is brought t o t he door and s hown to him.

Thirupotuthal
The br ides m ater nal uncle and gr oom s m ater nal uncle (Mamakarar gal) wear mamakar patt u ( a flour os ent pink silkt t owel) wrapped ar ound .The groom s its in the m anai.The brides mat er nal unc le br ings her in t he manai The groom t ies K alut hir u¶ ±t he s ac red t h read or gold c hain or Chettiyar thaali was wor n during the day of mar riage and a s ubstit ute gold t haali was given f or regular use. The K alut hiru is a double piece gold c hains gener ally c ontains a s et of t otal 34 item s of hand c raft ed gold or nam ent s includi ng tw o pendants c onsider ed t o be the m ost s acred. The pendant s carr ying the im age of goddess µ a ks hmi¶ at t he front side and the ic ons of µMeenaks hi Sundar esw arar ¶ µR is haba¶ bull in t he sec ond row. W hat is ver y import ant to note is that these tw o m otif s vi z. L aks hm i and Shiva - Parvat hi ar e oft repeat ed t heme in C hettinad, whic h are highly r evered by the N att ukottai N agarat har as t he f orm er symbolizing pr otection and pr os per ity while Shiva Parvathi pair on bull, repres ent s happy f amily life. The Kaluthir u i n Tam il language has two diff erent m eanings ± µKalut heru¶ means t he c hain on nec k while µKaluth - Thir u¶, denot es t he Laks hm i as Thir u in Tamil indicat es Mahalaks hm i.

Vevu irakkuthal Mamiyar sadangu Poo manam choridhal Manjal neeru aduthal Saman parapudhal Kumbuttu kattikolluthal Mana pen solli kolluthal Kattu sorru onnuthal Pen azhaippu
http://www.achi.org/wiki/nagarathar-marriage-rituals

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all over India are celebrated with great celebration and people possess immense pride in their respective rituals or cultures. People across the globe, also agree on the fact that Indian marriages are a true portrayal of the cultural believes of the citizens of the country. The rituals and ceremonies of Indian marriages vary according to their religions and the regions to which the people belong. Diversity in cultural believes and religious ceremonies is a common practise, which can be observed in every nook and corner of the country. There are many religions in India, which many people even don't know about; they usually originate, due to impact of one or the other cultural believes and the differences in the type and the methods of practising the same culture and customs. One of the communities, which is rarely known and is practised in very small places, is Nagarathar. The people of this community belong to the Kaveripoompattinam, also known to be originating from the India's chola kingdom. This is primarily famous as a prominent caste in the southern region of India, i.e. from Tamil Nadu. Each person of the Nagarathar community comes under the influence of any of the nine temples, and even the marriages in the Nagarathar culture takes place in between the people of different temples. The followers of the same temple are considered as siblings, so marriages among the Nagarathar followers of the same temple are not permitted.

Marriages

Nagarathar Marriages in the earlier days were an occasion of a single day, but with the change in times, the practices and the cultures related to marriage have been changing. The Nagarathar marriages usually take place in a single day, by going to the Nagara Village. Though these people stay away from their villages, but they prefer going to their ancestor's village for conducting the marriage ceremonies. Following is an explanation of the ceremonies practised in the Nagarathar marriages:

Before marriage:
Pen paarthal: This is the ceremony, when the bride and groom meet each other for the first time, with their families. This is the time, when the decision is made, whether the families likes each other's son or daughter and accept them as their son- in- law or daughter- in- law or not. If both the families accept the alliance, then they exchange silver bucket full of coconuts, beetle leaves and nuts and bananas. Pesi mudithu kolludhal: After the alliance for the marriage gets fixed, the family of the bride and groom calls an astrologer and fixes the date of marriage with his consent. Muhurtha kaal unrudhal: The relatives start arriving four- five days before the marriage day, at the respective houses of the bride and the groom. The very first ceremony observed before the marriage is the fitting of a bamboo cane with mango leaves on the top, after which puja is done in both the houses of the bride and the groom. The bamboo is then fitted up straight signifying that marriage is being conducted in the house. Veetu padaippu/podhu padaippu: This is the ancestral puja done jointly by the family members at the house of their ancestors to seek blessings from them for the marriage of their son or daughter. Marriage day: Mappillai azhaipu: The groom's family and relatives arrive at the village of the bride, hours before the mahurat, and stay at a community hall or in some ancestral temple, where the bride's father goes with a band to welcome the groom's side. The groom's side is not allowed to enter the bride's house before the mahoorat. Pen edukki kattuthal: After the groom reaches the bride's house, she is brought outside to meet the groom. Thirupotuthal: The bride is brought by her maternal uncle sitting on the manai, where both the maternal uncle of the bride and the groom wears a towel which is florescent pink color. Vaevu irakkuthal: This ceremony takes place at the groom's house, where the maternal uncle of the bride gives her a basket, which is full of brinjal and rice, denoting the giving of wealth in the form of food grains to the bride. Mamiyar sadangu: The mother- in -law carries cotton, betel leaves, manjal and vibhuti, all of them which she appilies on herself first, then on her daughter- in- lwa, one by one. Poo manam choridhal: In this ceremony, blessing from the elder male members of the family are taken by the bride and the groom, wherein the elders, bless the bride and groom with flower petals, by placing on their folded legs, shoulders and heads.

Manjal neeru aduthal: In this ceremony, the feet of the couple is washed by the turmeric paste, by their cousins. Saman parapudhal: During this ceremony of the Nagarathar Marriages, the gifts to be given at the time of marriage from the both the sides of the groom as well as the bride are displayed in front of the relatives, to show their power in terms of wealth. Kumbuttu kattikolluthal: This is the ceremony, where the bride seeks blessing from all the elders of the bride and the groom's family, by touching their feet. The blessings are to have a fertile future generation. Mana pen solli kolluthal: This is the moment, when eyes of each and every member of the family is full with tears, where in the bride leaves her maternal house and heads towards a new life towards the house of her in- laws. Pen azhaippu: This occasion signifies the formal welcome of the bride in her new house, by the groom's family. The couple, before being taken to the groom's house, is taken to a temple nearby, to seek blessing from the god, to start a happy and a blessed married life.

Wedding Ceremony
Nagaratha r Wedding

Nagar ath ar s bel ong to one of the 9 templ es. Peopl e wi thin the same templ e ar e consi dered as si blings. Appar entl y the bri de and groom shoul d belong to different templ es i f they ar e to be marri ed. However ther e ar e some excepti ons to Math ur templ e where ther e ar e subdi vi sions wi thin thi s templ e. So marri age among bri des and gr ooms of certai n subdi vi sions are per mi tted. Gener all y peopl e from Irani kovil and Pill ayar patti will not marry, becau se they treat each other as brothers&Si ster s. Ev er y Nagar athar weddi ng has to be approved and regi ster ed i n the respecti ve groom's templ e. Once approved, a garl and woul d be deli vered on the behal f of the templ e authori ti es on the weddi ng day an d onl y from there on the marri age woul d be conducted. Thi s can be assumed synonym to an approval certi fi cate. Nagar ath ar w eddi ng i s conducted in singl e day. Even today, though al most all the nagar ath ar stay aw ay from thei r nagar a vill age, th ey pr ef er to have thei r son/daughter's marri age i n thei r native vill age. Th e marri age i n Chetti nad i n good old days w as mor e el aborate and compl ex. The marri age cer emony w as l ong drawn procedure punctuated wi th vari ous ri tual s, customs including gi ft gi ving for the well bei ng of the newl y marri ed and thus marri age w as si x days aff ai r. Procession of bri degroom (µmappill ai ¶ ) accompani ed by mu si ci ans togeth er wi th another conti ngent of rel ati ves of the bri de especi all y the l adi es wi th thei r colorful costumes mostl y i n µKandangi ¶ handl oom cotton µsarees¶, used to be fun fill ed affai r. µNadu Veettu Kol am¶ dr awi ng wi th the use of wet ri ce fl our drawn by µaachi s¶. Before Wedding There ar e few formali ti es before w eddi ng in the nagar ath ar communi ty. Pen Paarthal Usuall y the prospecti ve mother -i n-Law, f ather -i n -l aw and few other cl ose real ti ves go to a common pl ace, to see th e bri de to be. For recent, th e "woul d be" groom joins hi s parents though thi s i s not very common. The groom's famil y i s offered a sil ver bucket wi th banana and coconut al ong wi th beetl e l eaves and beetl e nuts. If the groo m and hi s famil y li ke the bri de they can take the sil ver bucket as a token that they li ke th e bri de.

Thi s i s call ed "Vaali vaanguthal ". Pesi Mudithu Kolludhal Once th e bri de i s approved by all , they woul d exch ange betel l eaves and nuts (veth al ai pakku matri kolluthal ).Thi s i s a confi rmati on gesture that th e bri de and the groom ar e finali zed. The bride's par ents and grooms par ent (now call ed sambanthi ) deci de upon a common day di scussi ng wi th the astrol ogers for the marri age. Muhurtha kaal Unrudha l Once th e w eddi ng date i s finali zed rel ati ves arri ve 4 ±5 days before w eddi ng. Thi s i s the ver y fi rst formali ty rel ated to weddi ng. A bamboo can e i s fi tted wi th mango l eaves on the top. Puja i s done by i yer and cl ose rel ati ves of the bri de and th e groom keep manj al and kungumam at 5 pl aces i n the cane .Once i t i s over the cane i s ti ed upstr ai ght. Thi s ser ves as a noti fi cati on to others i n the surrounding that a marri age i s going to be conducted at thi s house. Veetu Padaippu/Podhu Padaippu Ever y f amil y pray to thei r ancestors i n their ancestr al house, whi ch i s known as veetu padai ppu and all the "pangali s" together perform "podhu padai ppu" (joi nt prayer). In podhu padai ppu whi ch i s usuall y conducted at the common house call ed padai ppu veedu, pani ayar am (made of ri ce fl our and karuppatti - jagger y) i s done by all achi 's and each f amil y gets one after the padai ppu. The day before marri age pangali 's and thaya pill ai gal (cl ose rel ati ves) woul d come to both bri des and grooms pl ace to make the nadu veetu kol am and man ai ko l am Wedding Day Mappillai Azhaipu On the day of weddi ng in the morning before muhurtham, th e groom's famil y arri ve at th e bri de's vill age but do not enter th e bri de's home. The mappill ai veetar (groom's si de) arri ve and wai t at some pill ayar templ e or communi ty centr es wher e th e pen veetar (bri de's si de) headed by bri de's fath er go to wel come th em wi th band. This i s call ed mappill ai azh ai ppu. Pen Edukki Kattuthal

When the groom reaches bri de's house sh e i s brought to the door and shown to hi m. In the ol den days thi s was the fi rst offi ci al meeti ng (rath er seei ng) of bride and groom. For "pen Par kuthal " onl y the near rel ati ves of the groom see the bri de. Thirupotuthal The bri de¶s maternal uncl e and grooms maternal uncl e (Mamakar argal ) wear mamakar a pattu ( a fl uorescent pink sil k towel ) wrapped around .The groom si ts i n the man ai . The bri de¶s maternal uncl e brings her i n the man ai The groom ti es ¶ kal uthiru ±the sacr ed thr ead or gol d chain or Chetti yar thaali was worn during the day of marri age and a substi tu te gol d thaali was gi ven for regul ar use. The K al uthiru i s a doubl e pi ece gol d chai ns gener all y contai ns a set of total 34 i tems of hand cr afted gol d ornaments including two pendants consi dered to be th e most sacr ed. The pendants carr yi ng the i mage of godd ess µLaksh mi ¶ at th e front side and the i cons of µMeen akshi Sundaresw ar ar¶ µRi shaba¶ bull in the second row. What i s very i mportant to note i s that th ese two moti fs vi z. Lakshmi and Shi va - Parvathi are oft repeated theme i n Chetti nad, whi ch are highl y rev er ed by th e Nattukottai Nagar ath ar as the former symboli zing protecti on and prosperi ty whil e Shi va Parvathi pai r on bull , represents happy f amil y life. The Kal uthi ru in Tamil l anguage has two different meani ngs ± µKal utheru¶ mean s the ch ai n on neck whil e µKal uth - Thiru¶, denotes the Lakshmi as Thi ru in Tamil indi cates Mah al akshmi . Vaevu irakkuthal Thi s i s a cu stom whi ch i s followed to indi cate th at w eal th i n the form of food grai ns and vegetabl es ar e sent from th e bri de's home by her maternal uncl e and thei r famil y hel ped by the groom's matern al uncl e (i tems ar e carri ed on the head i n baskets). Then i t i s recei ved at the groom's home. The basket usuall y contai ns bri njal and ri ce Mamiya r Sadangu Thi s i s a ri tual where i n the mother in l aw, in a sil ver pl ate wi th small ki nnam's i n tha will have Vethal ai (betel leaf), Cotton,vi bhuthi , manjal . Each ti me she woul d appl y i t to hersel f and then to her daughter in l aw. Thi s i s repeated for all the i tems.

Poo Manam Choridhal The el ders of both the si des di p thei r han ds i n the bowl wi th flower petal s and take out a few petal a and keep i t at the seated coupl es fol ded l egs, then on shoul der and throw the petal s behind the coupl e. Thi s i s done onl y by mal e r el ati ves and not by the woman fol k and thi s symboli zes of bl essi n g the coupl es. Manjal Nee ru Aduthal Coupl e's feet i s washed by cousins wi th manjal neer (turmeri c w ater) Both the samandhi s di p thei r ti p of thei r atti re in a turmeri c water. Before they used to take bath but i n modern days a formali ty for the ri tual they di p i n the turmeri c w ater. Saman Parapudhal The i tems gi ven as seer (dowry/gi ft) by the bri de¶s f amil y are exhi bi ted to all the rel ati ves who attend the marri age. Thi s i s consi dered a scal e for the weal th and prosperi ty of the bri de's f amily. It contai ns m appill ai saman (for groom), maami yaar saman (for mother in l aw) al so. The groom¶s si de al so adds th ei r gi fts (sil k sar ee, dr esses cosmeti cs etc.) to th e prospecti ve daughter -i n-l aw. Kumbuttu Kattikolluthal Thi s i s a ri tual where i n the bri de gets th e bl ess i ngs of the el ders wi th a "kul am val um pill ai "(Kri shna i dol ) in her hand. Each ti me th e el ders gi ve i t to her they bl ess her when sh e fall s at her feet. Thi s ri tual symboli zes th at the followi ng generati on to be fertil e. Mana Pen Solli Ko lluthal An emotional moment wher e the bri de bi ds f arew ell to her famil y and near and dear ones. It i s qui te common to see the bri de and her f amil y member s in tear s. The bri de gets th e bl essi ngs of all the el ders of the f amil y where she w as born. Kattu Soaru Unnuthal Duri ng ol den days when the groom and th ei r famil y take th e daughter i n l aw to thei r home, they h ad to tr avel for at l east a day. Food i s packed for them to be consumed on thei r way. U suall y, the groom and thei r famil y eat these

packed (kattu) food (soaru - ri ce) and take r est besi de some tank/ pond whi ch they fi nd on thei r way. Thi s tr adi ti on i s still followed i n Nagar ath ar weddi ngs. Pen Azhaippu Thi s i s the event wher e the bri des i s formall y wel comed at th e groom¶s home and embr ace her as a member of thei r famil y. The bri de and the groom are usu all y brought to a templ e i n thei r nati ve vill age before bei ng invi ted to the groom¶s resi dence. The coupl e woul d be asked to put th ei r hands into three th aval ai s (ever sil ver pots) and take out the contents inside A s mall game to see who woul d take over di fferent rol es when they run the f amil y. Nath anar sadangu (done by the bri de's si ster - i n-l aw (s) whi ch i s the same as mami yar sadangu woul d be done at th e ti me of pen azhai ppu. http://en.wi ki pedi a.org/wi ki /Nagar ath ar

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