Chettinad is a region of the Sivaganga district of southern Tamil Nadu state, India. Karaikudi is known as the capital of Chettinad, which includes Karaikudi and 74 (traditionally 96) other villages. Chettinad is the homeland of the Nattukottai Chettiars (Nagarathar), a prosperous banking and business community.This region is surrounded by Kallar Naadu. Many of this community’s members migrated to Southeast Asia, particularly Srilanka,Malaysia,Singapore,Vietnam and Myanmar, in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Apart from Chettiars, there were large group of Mukkulahtors living there. Each Chettinad village is headed by an Ambalam (president of an assembly) and the Ambalam(Kallars) took upon themselves the power to adjudicate disputes that arose among the inhabitants in the “NADU”, belonging to Chetiars as well as other different castes. They used to hear complaints, hold inquiries and punish the offenders. They wielded considerable powers to intervene in any kind of transaction or transfer of property among the people. No land could be alienated from one man to another without the permission of the Ambalams.In addition to the Population of Kallars there were also large group Maravars and Agamudaiyar in the Chettinad Region. The Culture of Mukkulathors in this region are quite similar to the Chettiars where they are very prudent, soft nature and refined incomparison to other regions in Tamil Naadu.Due to the Environmental factor, many mukkulathors are land lords, money lenders and Agriculturist. Even the naming style of Mukkulaththors babies will have similarity towards Chettiar names i.e, Shanmugham, Meenatchisundaram, Sedhu Meenatchi, Muthu Meenatchi, Ponnalazghi Devi, Sornamoorthi, sornanathan, muthukaruppan, muthaiyah, karuppaiyah, palanichchamy, sethuraman, sokkalingam and etc. Apart from this many Mukkulathtors here share the same Kuladeivam with the Nagarathars.i.e. Velangudi Karuppar near Sudakkadu Velangudi , Thiruppathur District which was formerly known as Thevar Thirumagan District.
Migration of Chettinaad Mukkulaththor to BURMA & MALAYA
BURMA Chettinaadu Mukkulaththors
During the British Raj days, there were 4 communities from the Tamil Diaspora migrated at a large pool, namely Nattukottai Chettiar, Mukkulaththor, Yadava and Brahmins(Iyer & Iyenggars). After the First Anglo-Burmese War a steady stream of Tamils inclusive of small group of Mukkulaththors moved to Burma as civil servants, ,soldiers, indentured labourers .Following the annexation of Upper Burma in 1885, numerous infrastructure projects started by the British colonial government and increases in rice cultivation in the delta region caused an unprecedented economical boom in Burma that drew many Tamilians, particularly from the Southern District in Tamil Naadu, to the Irrawaddy Delta region. The Mukkulaththors of Burma functioned as soldiers, indentured labourers and have been thought crucial in the growth of Burma during the colonial era.
At the start of World War II, almost half of Rangoon’s (Yangon) population was Indian,and about 16% of the population of Burma was ethnically Indian. As a consequence of the Japanese invasion of 1942, half a million members of the Indian community fled Burma overland into Assam, largely on foot. The refugees suffered terribly and thousands died. Some of the Tamil community from the Indian Population in Burma(mostly Mukkulaththors & Yadava’s) remained in Burma during the war unlike Most of the Chettiars who went back to India. The Remaining Tamil Community in Myanmar Today are mostly from Mukkulaththors and Yadava’s. Many Mukkulaththors here are mixed blood born of Burmese mothers, who have successfully settled in the present day Myanmar. During December 1955, When Swami Sri Pasumbon Muthuramalingga Thevar aiya took part in political and religious activities organised by the All Burma Tamil Nadu Association in Burma, many local Mukkulahththors attended that function. Apart from that, the very famous Shri Kali Temple Hindu temple located in the downtown Yangon, Burma. was built by Tamil migrants especially of Mukkulaththors.. Today Many Mukkulaththors here are mixed blood born of Burmese mothers, who have successfully got assimilated and adapted to Burmese Culture in the present day Myanmar.
MALAYA Chettinaadu Mukkulaththors
During the 19th Century, Small group of Mukkulaththors together with Chettiars came to Malaya primarily as moneylenders opened up “Kittanggis” in areas like Kuala Lumpur (Leboh Ampang or Ampang Street),Kulim, Valapur (Balik Pulau), Alor Setar, Sungai Rambai (Bukit Mertajam), Taiping, Ipoh, Tanjung Malim, Seremban(Paul Street),Melaka, Batu Pahat, Muar, This contributed significantly to the opening up of the country. Chettiars Lived as a close – knit community in what is called a kittangi((கிட்டங்கி) or Chettiar quarters – a Business House where they slept and conducted their business. This place was established for all their business activities (Money Lending and Real estate). These Kittanggi’s can only be seen in Singapore, Malaysia, Burma ,Vietnam, Thailand and Sri Lanka. A small group of mukkulaththors were also involved in the Chettiars Kittangi, where some were doing money lending and real estate together with the chettiars. The Chettiars had a weird practice, they do not consider any other caste other than the Vellala Pillai in equal to them. So eventhough some traders in kittanggi were mukkulathors but they were address as “Pillai”. Apart from this, there were quite a few number mukkulathors were cleaners and cooks in the kittanggi as well.There was also an observable process of evolution among the Chettiars and Mukkulahthor in Malaya especially after the 1930 Depression. For example until then the Chettiars were essentially moneylenders. The Depression resulted in rubber estates and properties at first mortgaged to them, becoming their own. Indeed probably more than half of the smaller estates which belonged to the Chinese and others in the government and mercantile offices passed on to Chettiar hands. In the difficult times that followed and with a large capital sunk in these estates, there began a period of “marking time” for the the Chettiar. With less capital available, there was less lending. Also, those who were in a position to lend became more cautious.The Chettiars were forced to look around for other forms of investment. So together with the Chettiars , some Mukkulaththors were also diversified their business activities and many decided to run rubber estates that came into their possession.