Elur Chetty

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Ezhur Chetty

Sree MahaGanapathy Thiru Vel Murugan

Arulmigu Naagaramman Thunai
Total population
~22,000
Regions with significant populations
 India ~22,000
Languages
Tamil, Malayalam
Religion
Om.svgHinduism
Related ethnic groups
Tamil people, Dravidian people ,Varnas - Vaishyas

Elur Chetty (also called Elur Chettu or Ezhur Chetty or Ezhoor Chetty) is a Tamil-speaking Hindu community in South India. They are said to have migrated from Kaveripoompattanam in Thanjavur District and settled in Kanyakumari District. They come under the common name of Chetty which includes other communities such as Kottar Chetty, Parakka Chetty, Vellalar Chetty, Pathira Chetty, Valayal Chetty, Pudukottai Chetty, Nattukkottai Chetty etc. They were once a trading community and were distinct from the other Chetty communities. The name is derived from "Ezhu ooru" meaning "seven towns". The seven towns were in and around the Kanyakumari District in South Tamil Nadu, India: Eraniel, Thiruvithancode, Padmanabhapuram, Colachel, Ganapathipuram, Midalam, and Parakkai. They are called Keezhatheru Chetty. Later Kottar, Thiruvananthapuram, Thiruvananthapuram (Melatheru), Therusanamkoppu, Nagercoil, Chennai, Thalakkulam, Eraniel (Melatheru), Chennai (Melatheru) tirunelveli, Bangalore,Govai were added. The members are spread all over India and the world. They have also diversified their profession and is not limited to trading.

Elur Chetty Sangham was started as a registered association in 1952 with its office in Eraniel. The association was originally started as All Travancore Ezhur Chettu Samudhaya Central Association in 1935 (1100 Vaikasi 29). Elur Chetty was classified as Backward Class (OBC)in Tamil Nadu and Kerala in 1993 as per Mandal Commission considering the social and financial backwardness of the community.

Surname[edit]

The most common surname found in this community is Pillai / Chettiar. This surname Pillai is shared by many other communities including several Vellalar and Kerala Nair community. There are two majority subcastes in this community which are called Melatheru and Keezhatheru. However, among the subdivisions, the surname is almost common. Time has had its influences on the community and among other changes, the current generation seldom uses this surname.

History[edit]

Ezhur Chetty community were originally residents of Kaveripoompattinam, part of the Chola empire, and were an affluent community involved in sea trade.[1] This ancient town was destroyed by tsunami around AD 79 August 23/24[3] and the community members started migrating to other areas after this event.[2]

The trading community left their properties and wealthy life, took their family deities' (Vinayaka & Nagaramman) idols, left the Chola empire and migrated to the Pandiya and Chera Empires across the river Cauveri. Some of the migrated people settled in around 93 places including Karaikudi, Devakkottai, Thiruppur, Kovilpatti, Thazhayoothu, Valliyur and Kottar. The people who reached Kottar did pooja for the Vinayaka idol. After the pooja, when they tried to remove the idol, they were unsuccessful. People who stayed back in Kottar are called Kottar Chetty. Later the Kottar Pillayar Temple was built there.

The rest of them reached Eraniel (formerly Hiranyasimhanallur) near the shore of Valli river. That day was the last Sunday of Chithirai month of the Tamil calendar during the day of aayilyam nakshatra. They placed the Nagaramman (the snake goddess) idol and idols for Thangammai and Thayammai there. On that night, They made nivedyam (a sweet offering for God) from a mixture of raw rice flour, banana (matty) fruit, cardamom, dried ginger, coconut and jaggery. This mixture was pressed to form a solid rectangular shape (like a brick), which was then covered using banana and coconut leaves and tied using threads from hanging root of kaithai (a plant which produces a very fragrant flower) . This was baked using coconut husk and served to the god. This came to be known as the 'Odupparai Kolukkattai'. Since then, the Odupparai Nagaramman Temple celebrations are being held to this day and the family and community meet together.

Arulmigu Thangammai-Thayammai

The community members then met the Chera King and sought permission to conduct trade. Trading then commenced, with Eraniel as the base, covering Ganapathipuram (Pazhaya Kadai), Parakkai, Colachel, Midalam, Thiruvithancode and Padmanabhapuram. Hence they were called Ezhur (meaning '7 towns') Chetty community.

The earliest known people from the community who settled in Eraniel were Umayammai and Pitcha Pillai (descendent of Unnaamalai). Their offspring are Kolappa Pillai, Subramonia Pillai and Sivathanu Pillai. These names can be found used by generations. References to these can be found in the rock scripts in Odupparai Temple.

Legends[edit]

Version 1 as told by Saverier Pillai[edit]

The King of Kaveripoompattanam, was on his daily rounds. On the way, he saw two girls named Thangammai and Thayammai knitting flowers on their house verandah. The king, attracted by the beauty of the sisters, ordered their parents to bring their daughters to his palace. The community members discussed this and decided not to give the daughters to the king. They sought 40 days time and migrated further south across the Cauvery river. The legend further says that to preserve their dignity, the girls were buried in a well.[citation needed]

Version 2[edit]

During the rule of the King of Kaveripoompattinam, a member of his court brought him a bagful of rare and beautiful pearls known then as "Kunni Muthu" (Abrus precatorius). These pearls were so beautiful, they were unlike any other the king had seen before. They were red on the one side and black on the other. On seeing these pearls, the king wished to make a beautiful necklace out of it for his queen. However, there was one big problem. These pearls were so tiny it was impossible to make holes to thread the pearls together. Several skillful jewelers tried their luck and ended up failing. The king was quite saddened and disappointed by this. The king's chief trade adviser offered to help. The adviser took the pearls home and gave them to his two beautiful daughters, Thangammai and Thayammai, and asked them if they could help with this seemingly impossible task.

Both girls, being quite clever, came up quickly with an ingenious solution. They took each pearl and stuck a grain of sugar on two opposite ends of it and arranged each pearl closer to one other in a straight line. They then took a thread and attached one end of it to the pearl on the top end. They did this and went to their beds. The next morning, the pearls were neatly threaded for them. The girls' father was very surprised to see this. He later found out that it was the work of the ants that had followed the trail of food and drilled holes inside the pearls.

The king was extremely delighted to see the necklace made so quickly. He came to know that this was the work and creativity of his adviser's young daughters. He asked the adviser to bring his daughters to him, so he can thank them and reward them personally. The daughters were brought before the king. The king thanked them both and rewarded them well. He then got immensely attracted by the beauty of the two girls. He immediately wished to have them as his wives.

The adviser was displeased with the king's wishes. He couldn't agree with the king and give away his daughters; at the same time he couldn't dare disobey the king. The adviser discussed the issue with his other 6 siblings and they together came to a conclusion not to give away the daughters.

The legend goes that the girls were said to have been buried in a well and the family with all 7 siblings immediately fled to the south along with their belongings and deities' idols.[citation needed]

Version 3 as found in Chetty Nadu and Chenthamizh, page 481[edit]

During the Kaliyuga year 4389 (1288 AD) there was trouble and Ariyurpattinam was demolished. The 64 Vaishya families who 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.[1]

Odupparai Nagaramman Temple[edit]

Odupparai Nagaramman Temple is the Elur Chetty community temple. It is near Eraniel (Hiranyasimha nallur). Monthly poojas are carried out on the last Sunday of the Tamil calendar. The date is conformed with the help of Tamil-panchangam.

Odupparai Temple Kozhukkattai Nivethya celebration years:

Oduppurai Nagaramman Temple
  • 1941 May 4 - [1116 (Vrusha varsham) Chithirai 22]
  • 1944 Apr 30 - [1119 (Dharuna varsham) Chithirai 18]
  • 1951 May 13 - [1126 (Kara varsham) Chithirai 30]
  • 1954 May 9 - [1129 (Jaya varsham) Chithirai 26]
  • 1958 Apr 27 - [1133 (Vilambi varsham) Chithirai 14]
  • 1961 Apr 23 - [1136 (Plava varsham) Chithirai 11]
  • 1966 May 8 - [1141 (Parabava varsham) Chithirai 25]
  • 1971 May 2 - [1146 (Virodhikruth varsham) Chithirai 19]
  • 1978 May 14 - [1153 (Kalyukta varsham) Chithirai 31]
  • 1981 May 10 - [1156 (Dhurmathi varsham) Chithirai 27]
  • 1985 Apr 28 - [1160 (Krodhana varsham) Chithirai 15]
  • 2008 May 11 - [1183 (Sarvadhari varsham) Chithirai 29]

Odupparai Kozhukkattai (offering) ingredients[edit]

During the Kozhukkattai celebration, offering to God is submitted as performed during the earlier days. The detailed measurement of ingredients and the procedure to prepare can be found at Elur Chetty Blog.

List of Elur Chetty Temples[edit]

  • Chettu samuthaya arulmigu Odupparai Nagaramman Temple
  • Thiruvithancode Umaiyorupaakam Vinayagar Temple.
  • Thiruvithancode Muthu Vayiravar Muthaar Amman Temple.
  • Thiruvithancode Chudalai Maadan Temple.
  • Thiruvithancode Kulathu Maadan Temple.
  • Eraniel Singa Rekshaka Vinayakar Devasthana Pillayar Temple.
  • Eraniel Mutharamman Temple.
  • Eraniel Sidhi Vinyakar Temple.
  • Thalakulam Deiva Vinayakar Temple.
  • Midalam Dhaiva Vinayagar-Mutharamman Temple.
  • Midalam shivan Temple.
  • Midalam Nagaramman Temple.
  • Padmanabhapuram Mutharamman
  • Padmanabhapuram Pillayar Temple.
  • Padmanabhapuram Maadan Temple.
  • Padmanabhapuram Bhoothathan Temple.
  • Kattalai Nagaramman Temple
  • Colachal Mutharamman Temple.
  • Colachal Desiga Vinayagar Temple.
  • Colachal Nagaramman Temple.
  • Kottar Nayanar Desika Vinayakar Temple.
  • Kottar Mutharamman Temple.
  • Therisanamkoppu Sivan Temple and Amman Temple.
  • Ganapathipuram AnnaVinayagar Temple.
  • Ganapathipuram Vandimalachi Amman Temple.
  • Parakkai Madhusuthana Perumal Temple.
  • Parakkai Chudalamadan Temple.
  • Parakkai Muthu Vinayagar Temple.
  • Parakkai Keelatheru mutharamman Temple.
  • Parakkai Chettitheru Mutharamman Temple.
  • Thiruvananthapuram Nandavanam Nagaramman Temple.

Association presidents[edit]

  • B. Sivagurunathan Chettiar B.A., B.L., Kottar (1944–1948, 1965–1968)
  • K. Padmanabha Pillai B.A.L.T, Ganapathipuram (1956–1959)
  • C.N. Sivathanu Pillai, Colachel (1953–1956, 1959–1962)
  • R. Kumaraswamy Chettiar, Kottar (1962–1965)
  • Vidwan P. Nataraja Pillai, Midalam (1968–1972)
  • C. Subramonia Pillai B.A., Colachel (1973–1984)
  • K. Vinayakamoorthy M.A., M.Phil., Kottar (1984–1991)
  • P. Sivathanu B.E., M.Sc., Nagercoil (1991-
  • T.Nagarajan,Thiruvithamcode(1997)

Community halls[edit]

  • Community Hall, Kottar.
  • Samudaya Mandapam, Padmanabhapuram.
  • C.S.S. Hall, Killipalam, Thiruvananthapuram.
  • Samudaya Mandapam, Oduppurai.
  • Melatheru Chetty Samudhaya Kalyana Mandapam, Eraniel.
  • Melatheru Chetty Samudhaya Kalyana Mandapam, Thalakulam.

Notable Persons in Ezhur Chetty Samudhaayam[edit]

  • Sri.Neela Padmanabhan writer, Novelist, Poet & Translator
  • Sri Dr. K.Chockalingam, Former Vice Chancellor, Manonmaniam Sundaranar University
  • Sri.R.Neelakandan Pillai Forest Guard,The Great Travancore State
  • Dr.K.Arumugam Pillai B.sc, M.B.B.S, Thiruvithancode, South Travancore.
  • Dr. Kumaresan Kannan, Professor and Head of Dept. of cardiology, Stanley Medical College, Chennai.
  • Er. N.Sivakumar, US Federal Navy, USA

References[edit]

  1. ^ About Nagarathar

Local communitty links[edit]

External links[edit]