Pattamkattiyar or Pattangkattiar is a small caste in the Tirunelveli and Tuticorin district of Tamil Nadu, India. They are called Katesar Pattamkattiyars of Tirunelveli and they are not a subcaste but a caste itself duely approved by government of India.
They have seven sub-divisions known as Keelai. People in the same Kelai do not get married.
In the Pattamkattiyar society, the maternal uncle's responsibility is more than the parents' responsibility.
Their mangalsutra/thali worn during marriage are similar to Pillai. Their marriage customs find similarity with Brahmins and Pillais. with the passing of time, the Pattamkattiyars separated themselves from rest of the Pandiyan community and they formed an individual caste with their own customs.
Katesar is a shortened form of the word 'Karaiyar Arasar', which means kings of coastal inhabitants. This term is mentioned by many Portuguese historians as 'kings of carears' in their letters. These people were considered the superior among the pattamkattiyars and they were also kings and noble men until the 1790s. These people were kings and headsmen of the fishery coast of Tuticorin and also Tirunelveli. These people have seven subcastes among them.
These people were the common people who lived in their village and their main occupation was to make lime out of conch and shell. They also owned boats and ships. Their villages were Kombuthurai, Punnakayal and a few other villages. Some of these people were baptized as Christians by Portuguese priests around 1000 AD, and some were converted into Christianity by St.Fancis Xavier during 1500 AD, and still 30 percentage of these people are following Hinduism. In 1544, more than 500 Catholics of the Kadayar community were put to the sword by Sankili at Thottaveli in Mannar. In May'1544, St.Francis Xavier built St.Stephen's Church at Kombuthurai in the Thoothukudi district of the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. The church was taken care by a people "katesar/kadaiyar pattamkattiyars", according to the wished of St. Francis Xavier, who believed that they could take care of the work of Christianity in Thoothukudi as written in his letters. These people do not have a subcaste, now these people are living in Sri Lanka, Rameswaram, Ramanad, Tirunelveli and Tuticorin.
History and pattamkattiyars
There have been stone carvings and copper plates that mention the Pattamkattiyars. These are found in big temple, tanjavur and in other places. A stone bearing the name of a person called "Perumal Patamkatti" dating 900 AD was found in Kanyakumari.