The Nagarathars are also known as Nattukkottai Chettiars and trace their
origins to Cauvery Poompatinam under the Chola Kingdom. The
name Nattukottai has an interesting origin. The King lived in his Kottai
or castle while the other members of the Nagarathar clan lived in their
countryside mansions or Kottais. This is where the name is derived from.
The Pandiya king had gifted the Nagarathar
community nine villages around Pudukkottai. They settled here and built all the
infrastructure necessary for comfortable living. They were ardent devotees of
Lord Shiva and built a magnificent Shiva temple at each village. Based on this,
the community was
divided into the 9 temples or 9 kovils. The community lives in
96 villages surrounding the Temple. There are different rules that govern the
marital relations between members of different Nagarathar kovils. Since members
of each temple or kovil treat each other as brothers and sisters or pangalis,
marriage is not allowed amongst members of the same temple. When members of
different kovils intermarry, the wife automatically takes on the kovil of her
Nagarathars featured as an important trading class of the 19th
and 20th centuries in South East Asia. Their traditional occupations consisted
of money-lending and wholesale trading. In fact, they had established the
Indian Overseas Bank and the now defunct Bank of Chettinad and Bank of Madurai.
The Nagarathar community has been known for its keen business
acumen and has developed many flourishing businesses ranging from automotive,
construction, real estate, films to many other industries. They have
established themselves as a flourishing community wherever they stepped and
have also spread their wings across the globe especially in Srilanka, Burma,
Vietnam, Indonesia and Malaysia.
The Nagarathars also spread Hinduism in the
countries they settled or traded with. Temples dedicated to Lord Murugan are
among the most prominent of the temples they established. The Nagarathars have
built Thandayuthapani temples in 15 locations across Malaysia. Singapore has
two temples while Sri Lanka
has four including the famous Selva Vinayagar Temple (Kandy).
Myanmar has 50 temples and Saigon has two which were built by
the Nagarathars. Besides this, they maintain various Nagarathar temples across
the globe including temples in North America. Their love for fine arts
like painting, architecture, dance and music are legendary. They are not
only great patrons of art but many Nagarathars are also
blessed with artistic talents that they put to good
use. Their homes and offices are artistically decorated with a fine selection
of traditional Chettinad furniture, Tanjore paintings, sculptures and
other forms of art. They are also known for their philanthropy.
They are also known for their philanthropy. The
contribution of Nagarathars to the country and the world is remarkable. Besides
the growth of business, they are strong upholders of Indian culture and
tradition and have spread it across the globe too.