Chettiar (or Chetty) is a title used by various mercantile castes and social levels in South India – especially in the state of Tamil Nadu. They claim a legendary relationship with the Hindu God Murugan; according to the legend, Murugan married Valli (who was from a tribal group), hence her tribe was later called Chettyars – in order to restore Valli’s status as a consort to a god.

Interestingly, here in Ipoh there were more than 100 Chettiar families once. They were known as the Nattukottai Chettiar. These financiers were preferred to the usual bankers back in the day. On our database we have an interesting interview with the last of the Nattukottai Chettiars in Ipoh.

Here’s a picture of what may have been the inside of a Chettiar’s ‘office’…

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from the book “Legends, Lessons and Love” by Jamilah Ariffin