Malabars is an appellation originating from the colonial era that was used by Westerners to refer to all the people of South India (Tamils, Telugus, Malayalees and Kannadigas included). The term is based on the Malabar region of the present state of Kerala in India or from the ancient term to refer the southwestern coast of India.
This term was applied by the Dutch to designate Tamils of Sri Lanka during the colonial days. This term, or the term Malbar, accordingly was also applied by the French to Tamil indentured laborers coming to La Réunion, has been kept by the latter to label their own identity as well until today, even though most have lost the use of Tamil language. There are around 200 000 people of Tamil descent in Reunion Island. They started to be brought from 1848 (official end of slavery in French colonies).
The term Malabar is used in the neighbouring island of Mauritius to describe North Indian Hindus, Lascar is used to describe Muslims and Madrasse (Madras being the capital of Tamil Nadu) is used to describe Tamils and Telugus ethnic groups of South India.