Mukkuvar (also Mukkuva) are a social group or caste—primarily fishermen's community in India and cultivation of paddy, cattle especially cow and Chenai, cultivating grains and pulse.—living in the coastal districts of Kerala and south Tamil Nadu in India and also in Sri Lanka. It is a community that has differing ethnic identities based on the state or country of domicile. Although they may be an insignificant community in India, their social and numerical position makes them an important community in Sri Lanka. They are also found in Lakshadweep islands off India but are called as Melacherries.
Historically some believe that they are originally from East coast of Tamil Nadu who then migrated to Kerala, Sri Lanka and Lakshdweep. Also some may have re-migrated from Sri Lanka back to India and settled in the south western coastal side of Kerala.
Position in Sri Lanka
Western Sri Lanka
Historically they are an important community in the affairs of Sri Lanka. Mukkuva Chiefs controlled large areas of lands in the western and eastern coast of Sri Lanka. This came about due to their military raiding parties during the medieval period that was recorded in local historical records such as the Kokila Sandeśa as the Mukkara Hatana or the fight of the Mukkaru.
Consequently, in western Sri Lanka, Mukkuva domination was brought to an end by the Sinhalese Kings with the help of Karaiyar or Karave mercenaries from India who generally settled in places vacated by Mukkuvas. Although some Mukkuvas are still found in the Western region. (see Udappu)
Eastern Sri Lanka
They call Eastern Sri Lanka as the land of singing fish. They also believe that they were settled here by a Tamil king called Pandia or during the period of a king Pandia. The Mukkuvar community is a major and main component of Eastern Tamils. They follow Mukkuva laws which is believed to be issued by king Pandia. Each and every script's end mentions this is the order of king Pandia.
MAKIDY KOOTHU (koothu means dance and drama which is native to this land) mentions about migration from Kerala. Other castes or communities living in this land include Karaiyar, Vellalar and Thanakarar. But Mukkuver's occupations are cultivation of paddy, cattle especially cow and Chenai. Chenai means cutting the frost and cultivating grains and pulse.
Most of the members of this community in India were Hindus. Many of them have converted to Christianity in the recent years. Significant minority in India are Christians.
Many of the Mukkuvars do a variety of jobs, including engineering, education, clerical, etc., though major part of the community does cultivation related works. However, there are many entrepreneurs and educationists among them. This should be considered as a normal happening in any dynamic working community. Amongst Malayalee Christian Mukkuvas, the word Mukkuva was considered derogatory previously. However, due to the increasing affluence of this community in the recent years, this is no longer a hindrance to their social interaction and mixing with other communities. As an example, the reluctance which existed among the Malayalee Syrian Christans in the previous centuries to recognize the Mukkuva Latin Christians as their equals no longer exists now. In Sri Lanka, amongst Sinhalese and Tamil Mukkuvas, it is not generally considered to be derogatory. In India in the Northern parts of Kerala, the only place where Malayalee Hindu Mukkuvas exist, they are socially and economically placed in good positions from ancient times as they were mainly agriculturists or high ranking government officials. In south Tamil Nadu, Kanyakumari District Mukkuvas are spread over the district and mainly in coastal area of Kanyakumari Dist. and Mukkuvas are in the coastal area of Kerala too.
The 2004 Tsunami affected Mukkuvas of eastern Sri Lanka and Southern Tamil Nadu and Kerala very adversely. They were discriminated in rehabilitation projects in both the countries as reported by NGOs.
- ^ The Mukkuva law: or, The rules of succession among the Mukkuvars of Ceylon. / By C. Brito, Imprint Colombo, H. D. Gabriel, 1876
- ^ Sri Lankan Tamil society and heritage by Prof Sivathamby 
- ^ Tamils of Sri Lanka: historical roots of Tamil identity By S. K. Sitrampalam 
- ^ The ancient myths of the aborigines Kerala Calling, July 2004 by Dr. M.V Vishnu Namboodiri