India and its culture are so alluring and incredible. Each state, cities and towns have great stories in its sleeves. From North to South and East to West India is an incredible wonder kaleidoscope that offers magnificent colours and designs for visual and cognitive delight.
The story of Chettinad, the land of Chettiars is as old as the 13th century.
Very enterprising Chettiars were mostly traders who also did major banking business in India and in many parts of Asia. They expanded their business across south-east Asia and moved to many countries to facilitate trade. Later because of the political and social dynamics and instabilities, they had to settle back in India or needed to move to more stable other places.
Many of India’s banks or their history, if we study in details, have the fingerprints of Chettiars in it. Some examples to this are Bank of Chettinad, Indian Overseas Bank, ICICI Bank and Indian Bank. Smart business people that they were, Chettiars were also known for their philanthropy.
Chettinadu is not just famous for Chettiars and their settlement but also for many things very traditional to the Chettiars and the then ruling culture of the Chola Dynasty.
This very intricate
Most ruling royal dynasties housed great artisans and craftsmen to produce temple
Temple jewellery such as bangles, necklace and earpieces were used by women to adorn themselves during special occasions such as Kallyanam(weddings), Valaikappu(baby shower) and other festivals. However, there are certain specific jewellery types that were used only by dancers during their performances. They included anklets, waist chains, armlets and hair decorations.
Though there is a great leap in the world of fashion lately, most traditional jewellery is mindfully appreciated by young women. This is particularly true for temple jewellery that has a unique place in the Chettinad culture.
The Chettiyar story cannot be told without mentioning their cuisines and culinary culture as they are both tightly interwoven. Chettinad Cuisines are famous the world over and Indian restaurants across the world showcase some of the other Chettinad food.
The menu normally is non-vegetarian intense in Chettinad homes. Traditionally they use regionally available as well as sourced spices to use in the dishes. The trading and commerce background of Chettiyas made it easy for them to source spices from different regions and countries. Spices commonly used in their kitchen include
Traditionally, Chettiyas gave a lot of importance to food and their kitchens were mostly larger than any other traditional Indian homes. Along with vegetarian food, Chettinadu cuisines have an intense list of non-vegetarian dishes as well. Most of their dishes are outstandingly spicy as they add green chillies and black pepper in lavishly.
They also used different and colourful kitchen utensils that were enamel coated. It’s said that these utensils were imported from Sweden during the olden times. Though these utensils are not used for cooking today, they used to be an essential part of the Chettinad cooking regime in the past.
Chettinad weaving has a long history and primarily Devanga Chettys are involved in the weaving craft in this area. Chettinad handloom sarees are traditional cotton that comes in vibrant colours and earthy hues. Mostly the colour of the saree’s body and the border would be contrasting. Checks and stripes are the common patterns that would be seen on these sarees. Traditional Chettinad sarees are woven thick.
Nattukottai Chettiyars got their name from the ornate and palatial bungalow they owned. This rich community used their money to build large houses to showcase their wealth. How rich was a Chettiyar was assessed by looking at the size and intricacy of his house?
The architecture is outstanding and ruled by the climatic factors. As the terrain and geography
Distinguishable are the pillars inside each house that are made off wood, granite or iron. The plastering of walls was done in several layers were the mixture included lime and even egg white to give a smooth and strong texture to the walls. Athangudi tiles which are handmade and
The front door of each house opened to wide courtyards with visible pillars and corridors around. Beautiful as they are, Chettinad homes surely tell the magnificent story of the bygone glory of this great community.
Today synthetic colours are also used in making these tiles. There is a huge demand for these tiles even today, especially those who love to recreate history in their homes.