Karaikudi - Nagarathar
The Nagarathar Community originated in Cauvery Poompatinam under the chola kingdom. Even though this community is small in size their achievement is great. This community has become famous by famous poets like Bharathi, Bharathidasan, Kavimani, and Kaviarasu Kannadasan.Basically the community concentrated on business, especially money lending business.The Chola kings encouraged the nagarthars to travel out. The nagarathars from Cauvery Poom Pattinam traveled on boats to Srilanka, Burma, Vietnam, Indonesia and Malaysia to spread their business. Apart from business nagarathars also spread Hinduism in these countries. Even today in all these countries we will find a Murugan temple. There are Murugan temples in Penang, Singapore and Sri Lanka which were built by the nagarathars. Nagarathars also showed interests in the field of education and maintenance of temple.
Nagarathars used to have music troops in their functions like marriage, etc. From this it clears that nagarathars encouraged music. Panaiyapatti Vinaitheerthan chettiar, S.V.S. Alagappan, Sangeethabooshanam Soma Ramanathan chettiar, M.L.Valliammai Aachi spread music all over Tamilnadu.
Nagarathars conduct dances in their marriage and temple functions. Nagarathar girls start learning dance from their early stage and even they have staged it. The peacock dancer of nagarathar is Mr. Devakottai Lakshmanan.
The savings of Ravi Verma's Art in their houses shows that nagarathars are best in painting. In marriage halls they used to have paintings on the roof. Also ladies of nagarathars were good in Rangoli. Mr. Devakottai Rama Palaniappan is the best painter of nagarathars.
Nagarathars mansions and temples were decorated by sculptures. This proves that the nagarathars were interested in architecture.
In temple functions nagarathars used to have stage drama's and folk dances. The best dramatist among nagarathas were Ramanathan and Dr. Alagappan. Ramanathan's "Rajaraja Cholan", Alagappan's "Thirumalai Naicker" are the dramas held all over Tamilnadu.
The growth of drama is cinema. Nagarathars shined in all the areas included direction, distribution, and screening the film. In olden days there were number of film industries run mostly by nagarathars. The famous among them were A.V.M.limited, A.L.S.films, Chettiar films, Madras films, Ajantha pictures, etc. They also lead a first place by having best studios. Some of the studios are Newtone studio, Saradha studio, Shyamala studio, etc. Nagarathars played a vital role in film direction. Famous directors are A.K. Chettiar, A.V.Meyappa chettiar, etc.
Ornaments of Nagarathars
Basically the nagarathars are rich people, so they used to wear Gold, Silver and Diamond in their daily life.Even today they are following the same.
Nagarathars and their Business
When they were in Cauvery Poompatinam they lead a commercial life. Silapathikaram, Manimaekalai, Periyapuranam, Pattinathadigal shows they lead an import and export through sea as their ancestral profession. Nagarathars invest their money in the field of Travels, Lodges, Marriage Halls, Poly Clinic, Real Estate, Musicals, xerox, Computer Centres, etc.
Nagarathars and their Banking
Nagarathars concentrated in the field of money lending. So they had started lending money in foreign countries in 19th century onwards. They call these money lending centres as Bank. They also did the same what the normal bank is doing today. Nattukkottai Chettiars were the Merchant Bankers in Ceylon in 1973.
Nagarathars in Foreign Countries
There was a research about nagarathars conducted by an angloindian man by name Allan Master and he released a magazine titled "Chettiars in Burma" - An economic Survey of Migrant Community. Jeyarani Pavadairayan for his docterate made a research in Play Field University of West Bengal and he released a magazine titled Chettiars of Singapore.
Food Habits of Nagarathars
In olden days nagarathars used to have morning Breakfast, afternoon Lunch and night Dinner. Modern days they have evening snacks with Coffee. Usually they follow simple food but in special days like marriage and other functions Payasam and sweets will be served. Some of the food items that are made by nagarathars are the following :
Ukkarai, Kandarappam, Karupatti Paniyaram, Kavanarisi, Pal Paniyaram, Thenkulal and Seepu seedakai.