Chettinad is a district of Tamil Nadu. The place is popular for its delicious Chettinad cuisine. The Nattukottai Chettiars were the popular native people of that place. They are also known as the Nagarathar. These people made various massive and decorative mansions, which are now a part of the heritage centers of Tamil Nadu.
The Nattukottai Chettiars belonged to a prosperous banking and business community. In the late 19th century and early 20th century, most people of this community have migrated to many other countries such as South and Southeast Asia, particularly Ceylon and Burma. The mother language of the people of Chettinad is Tamil. Now, the diasporas of Chettinad people can be found in the places like USA, Singapore and Malaysia, among other places.
The impact of traditional caste system and modern liberalism can be seen in the lifestyle of Chettinad people. Hence, their lifestyle reflects the amalgamation of both the age-old tradition and the modern transformations. The spiritual beliefs of its denizens can be seen through various temples of Chettinad. Some of the famous temples of Chettinad include Vairavan Kovil temple, Karpaga Vinayakar temple, Kundrakudi Murugan temple and Kottaiyur Sivan temple.
The marriage ceremony of the Chettinad people is celebrated in a majestic way. The minimum period of the celebration is three days, which consists of various traditional rituals. The Chettinad people gift a large number of items to the bride from diamonds to broomstick in multiples of seven.
The numerous festivals and rituals of the Chettiars strengthen the bond among the native inhabitants. People of a clan temple or a family gather from far and wide to participate in the festivals. The Chettiars became a vital source local finance and trading enterprises in several South Asian and South East Asian Countries since over a hundred years.
The Chettiars had built a lot of mansions in the East, which were the evidence of their knowledge in arts and crafts. The sense of decoration in the Chettiars is visible through their temples and homes, which are adorned with artifacts. The Chettiar women wore very exquisite and attractive jewelleries.
The temples of Tamil Nadu got a new life through the Chettiar, which they decorated and modified with their style of architecture. They also took part in the development of education and healthcare of the region.
The Chettiar is well connected with many other places of the country. The Tiruchirapalli airport is the nearest airport from Chettiar. This airport is situated 100 kilometers away from the largest town in Chettinad i.e., Karaikudi. The Karaikudi station is the nearest railway station of Chettinad. The trains, which run from Chennai to Rameswaram, stop at Karaikudi. The CECRI and a CSIR laboratory specializing in electro-chemical research are also situated in the Karaikudi town of Chettinad district of Tamil Nadu.
The founder of famous Annamalai University, Dr. Raja Sir Muthiah Chettiar was also a renowned personality of Chettinad. Sir Muthiah Chettiar was an eminent educationist, a patriot, statesman, Parliamentarian, patron of Tamil culture, as well as a connoisseur of fine arts and sports. He provided yeomen service to the promotion and propagation of Tamil Isai.
One more prominent personality of Chettiar community was Dr. Alagappa Chettiar. He established several educational institutions in Karaikudi and its surroundings. Few institutions such as the Alagappa University, ACCET and Alagappa Government Arts College were named in his honour. He was a close friend of the first prime minister of India, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. CECRI was brought to Karaikudi by Dr. Alagappa Chettiar. He donated large area of lands for this purpose.
M.A. Chidambaram Chettiar was one more famous person of the Chettiar district of Tamil Nadu. The well-known M.A. Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai was named after him.