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  • Madurai, a Cosmopolitan - Home for Multilingual Communities

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All About Madurai's Government Projects , IT Parks and Companies, Industries etc.,
 #6565  by Madurai Gilli
 August 28th, 2012, 10:03 am
In the times, the entire world is calling Madurai as a "Big Village", the temple city silently remains a Cosmopolitan, giving shelter for Multi-lingual communities from various parts of India.

Madurai remains home, not only to its native Tamil people, but also to :

1. Marathis
2. Sindh
3. Telegu people
4. Saurashtrians
5. Gujaratis
6. Malayalees
7. Rajasthanis
8. Kannadians (Uduppians)

9. Urdu Muslims
10. Anglo-Indian Christians
11. The Halai Memons
12. Srilankan Refugees
13. Bengalis
14. Haryanis (Agrawals & Maheswaris)
15. Punjabis

and Labours from :

1. Assam & North-east
2. Bihar and
3. Orissa
are being the main work-force in Granite Industries, textile Industries and hotels.

When people think Madurai, they think temples and everything religious. But Madurai, now is beyond all that. Growing to be more than just a temple town, this city has flourished, bringing about a cosmopolitan feel to it with each day.

This year, youngsters seemed to have discovered a whole new perspective of the city. From classy vintage car collectors to fossil enthusiasts, Madurai had it all! Pets stole the limelight as well with the opening of pet hostels and the new-found pug craze. Banumathy Mathiharan, a professor was more than relieved about this new development. "Whenever I visit her in the hostel, she jumps out with joy and greets me. After all, my dog also needs some socialization with her fellow mates. She feels comfortable and I am contented to give her a balanced life," says she. Antique markets have a unique charm about them. Perhaps the sole reason why they gained popularity in the city. Malathy M, an antique lover says," I have purchased a peculiar type of gramophone that is adorning my living room corner. Also, I have come across a very old system of lock that has the 'Made in Britain' seal and that dates back to the previous century. The shopkeepers keep us well informed about such arrival of antiques to the market."

Interestingly, Madurai this year was more than just the Jikarthanda and the aruvals. With a history so rich, we focussed on the old theatres here and the quaint flea markets and book shops. Bibliophiles in the city must have had a field day, picking out books and adding more to their collection. Madurai also saw the ladies making quite an impact with women entrepreneurs setting up business and showing off their marketing skills. The city witnessed a whole new set of activities that the adrenaline junkies could indulge in with bird watching, bike treks and film festivals.

You know it's a sign of progress when we have something as massive as the LGBT movement making news in the city. This year, Madurai will see its first Rainbow Pride Festival which will also include a film festival and seminars on gender identity issues. Gopi Shankar, Director of Srishti says "This place is a collective village. Earlier there was so much ignorance. Now we have evolved. We plan to provide moral support to all those who seek our help." Youngsters also turned environment friendly with the growing trend of terrace gardening, and corporate social responsibility.

So, Madurai has changed, yes, but most importantly, it's identity remains the same. The people are still affable and affectionate, the food delicious and the sights and sounds still something to savour. As Maduraiites will vouch for, namma city dhan top always! Enna solrenga?

Here, in this thread, Let's us discuss about the Cosmopolitanity of Madurai.
Last edited by Madurai Gilli on September 1st, 2012, 11:07 pm, edited 5 times in total.
 #6566  by Madurai Gilli
 August 28th, 2012, 10:04 am
On Friday, a small gathering of 28 families met in the heart of Madurai to celebrate 'janmashtami' according to their tradition. It was an occasion for the small association of Sindhis living in Madurai for over half a century to meet each other and bond.

Hailing from Shikarpur, now in the Sindh province of Pakistan, these people started migrating from their native place after the partition, seeking refuge in many places in India. "We went looking for a livelihood, not settling in one place. Those days were never easy or comfortable," said Vashdev Gopaldas Talreja, president of the Madurai Sindhi Shikarpur Association. But a few of them chose Madurai as home and settled here just after Independence. He said he had come here as a small boy in 1947, but now Madurai was his home.

They, however, speak Sindhi at home. "It is the only way in which our dialect is passed on to the next generation. But if you ask us, many of us including the middle agers are more fluent in Tamil than Sindhi," say Naresh N Chugh and Suraj G Khatri, members of the association. To most of them, Madurai is their home and even the oldest among them, Nanda Lal, has never been to their native place.

According to the secretary of the community, Suresh B Raheja, their deity is Jhulelal Sai who is the community god of the Sindhis. They also celebrate Guru Nanak Jayanthi in an elaborate way and their temple, situated in Pappan Kinathu Street near the Meenakshi temple, was constructed in 1954. This shrine also serves as their meeting point. Their deities are decorated with flowers and jewels for festivals and they celebrate all Hindu festivals including Diwali and Holi.

Pandit Basudev Panday performed the rituals for the 'janmashtami' pooja, where the idol was decorated for the occasion. Everyone present had a chance to take part in the poojas, from the tiniest child to 75-year-old Nanda Lal. The parents ensure the small ones are brought here so that they can participate in the festivals without fail.

Being a small community, they go in search of brides and bridegrooms to north India and the marriage celebrations go on for three days.

Food for the Sindhis is a big affair. "Kadi chawal" and sweet rotis are some of their special dishes with ghee being the main ingredient in many of their delicacies.

"Thadri", a festival which is celebrated by them, is one of difference as only food cooked the previous day is served to everyone on that day. "It is a way of giving rest to the god of fire Agni. Hence the fire is not lit for cooking and women also get a day off," said Priya Chugh.

These people are diversified in their occupation, some tailors, some in real estate, finance, bankers, business and many others, according to Mahesh Chhabria. They have all contributed to Madurai's development in their own small way.

Recently, the ladies joined hands to form the Ladies Chapter of their community, for the purpose of social service. Helping a poor girl with good scores enter engineering college was one of their recent achievements.

Source : ... 486436.cms
 #6567  by Madurai Gilli
 August 28th, 2012, 10:07 am
The Tanjore Deshastha Marathas are descendents of Venkoji Raje Bhonsale, a brother of Maratha warrior Chhatrapati Shivaji, who expanded the Maratha kingdom in southern India. Madurai has less than 75 families from this community, who first made Tanjore their home and then migrated further south to Madurai and Ramanathapuram.

Hailing from various parts of Maharashtra, people from this community accompanied their kings in pursuit of expanding their kingdom and later settled down to help govern the newly invaded land. Venkoji was one of the first known Tanjore Marathas. A larger part of the migration of these people from their homeland to Tamil Nadu took place between 1712 and 1726, when Serfoji I invited the brahmins from his homeland and offered them vast lands. Records showed that the migrations ceased after 1855, says Yeshwanth Rao, a member of the Mahratta Education Fund (MEF), an organisation of this community. "Madurai is our home now. We visit our native place only about once a year, for the annual ritual of praying to the family deity," he says.

The Tanjore Marathas are passionate about preserving their tradition and very rarely agree to marriage alliances with the locals here. "When it comes to marriage, we prefer to go in search of brides and grooms back in Maharashtra or Central India," said Jagadish, a Maharashtrian. S Janaki, a housewife, says the nine yard sari is the mandatory costume that a bride wears during her marriage rituals. This pure cotton sari is dipped in turmeric to give it the yellow colour which signifies prosperity. Their marriages bring to life many rituals from the past including 'antharpat', 'kanyadan' and 'kanka' which are absent in many Hindu marriages. "Grandeur and rituals are the very essence of a Maratha wedding," says another member of the community, Shaji Rao.

Most people from this community hold important positions in government departments as they make dedicated and good workers. However, many of their aristocratic houses concentrated around the Dhanappa Mudali Street in the heart of Madurai city and places like Ayyer Banglow, have now been sold out or converted into ultra modern structures. Regular festivals and bhajans organised at the Madurai Sethuram Bhajan Mandali is their way of protecting and keeping their traditions, culture and language intact. They speak Marathi at home and classes are conducted at the MEF for teaching the language to the younger generation.

The original recipe for the traditional Tamil Nadu sambar, was brought from Maharashtra by the cooks of this community. Tamilians substituted the original ingredient 'kokum' with tamarind pulp to produce the present day sambar. 'Puranpoli', a Maharashtrian sweetmeat made with dal, flour and jaggery also became a household sweet in Tamil Nadu.

Madurai District Mahratta Mandal president Ganesh Rao, says that at present, their organisation has about 500 members from 60 families registered with them. "We were basically soldiers and were backward in education, but now our people shine in almost every sphere of life," he said. The mandal plans to hold a communal conclave in Madurai in September this year inviting their people from all parts of Tamil Nadu, in order to enhance their cultural activities in this region, he added.

Source : ... 383765.cms
 #6568  by Madurai Gilli
 August 28th, 2012, 10:09 am
The Halai Memons migrated to Madurai from Ranavav, situated close to Gandhiji's birth place Porbandar in Gujarat in the 1870s for trade and business purposes. Incidentally, it was a Memon who took Gandhiji to South Africa for the first time.

Established in 1878, the Hajeemoosa store is a famous landmark in Madurai, situated near the east gate of the Sri Meenakshi Amman temple and still continues to be patronized by people from Madurai and many southern districts. M Ismail Omar, the present owner of the store says that his forefathers realized the great potential that Madurai had in terms of trade and started establishing their businesses here. The present store has many floors, but originally it was established as a small 100 sq feet shop. Many of them established their shops around the temple and flourished as they were well versed in the textile trade. These merchants were the connection to the outer world, as their goods included fabrics exported from across the world, making them much sought after by the elite.

Though reluctant to come to Madurai at first and leave their relatives behind, the ladies soon followed their husbands and started adapting to Madurai, as the journey back and forth from their hometown took many days. Their counterparts, the Sourashtrians, came forward to rent their homes to them when they first started settling in Madurai. Even today both communities continue to maintain close ties.

As their trade flourished, the Halai Memons reduced the number of visits to Ranavav as they could not leave their work in Madurai unattended. Ismail says that he has never been to his native place. But many still continue to visit their hometown for family functions and weddings.

People of this community make sure that their children converse in their language called Memoni, a mixture of Gujarati and Sindhi, right from the beginning. Weddings are a time to showcase their cultural and traditional art forms like the dandiya dance. All the 350 families of this community who live in Madurai are members of the Halai Memon Association, which has one of the oldest marriage halls in the city constructed in 1965. They rented out the premises to the people of Madurai
for a very nominal cost, even when marriage halls were not constructed here.

Being pious Muslims, they celebrate and observe the festivals of Ramzan Eid, Eid-ul-Azha and Milad-un-Nabi, with a lot of religious fevour. Ramzan feasts are grand affairs with traditional delicacies and include dates brought all the way from Saudi Arabia.

The founder president of the Tamil Nadu Textile Merchants Association A C Mohammed, belonged to this community. His contribution to the development of the textile trade in Tamil Nadu is still remembered by the textile industries. He was also the founder member of the Rotary Club of Madurai, which is celebrating its centenary year this year and is the second oldest club in Tamil Nadu.

This community is also known for its charitable nature, contributing in a big way to orphanages, hospitals and the members are active members of the Rotary, Lions and Jaycees clubs. Today, the Halai Memons constitute an important part of Madurai, helping the city make significant strides towards development.

Source : http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes ... tile-trade
 #6569  by Madurai Gilli
 August 28th, 2012, 10:09 am
The Gujarati community, who have contributed to the development of the temple city in a big way, began their journey from the Rann of Kutch to Madurai, 125 years ago and over the years, have made this town their second home.

Being contractors by professions, they were instrumental in constructing many bridges and buildings in and around Madurai. What began as a professional journey, ended up with them deciding to settle in Madurai to save time on travel which took many days a century ago. Many landmarks in Madurai were constructed by Gujarati contractors, including the majestic collector's office building near the Gandhi Museum. Mavji Chauhan was the contractor of this heritage structure.

Passionate about their language and script, they inaugurated the 'Shree Madura Gujarati Library' way back in 1925 so that people from their community could have access to books in their own language. Even today, the library continues to flourish with more than 5,000 books in Gujarati, frequented by the young and elderly. Among the teachers, Ranjan Bhatt is much sought after for her expertise in the language. "Many children are sent for Gujarati language classes without fail, as they do not get an opportunity to pursue the language in schools," says Gujarati resident Sangeeta Desai.

This clan of 'little Gujarat' in Madurai, does not discriminate among themselves in the name of caste be it Vaishnav, Brahmin, Jain or Kutchi, and also a group of about 40 to 50 Khoja Gujarati Muslims who are fluent in Gujarati and Kutchi. According to former president of the Gujarati Samaj, Chandrakant Patel, the Shri Gujarati Bandhu Samaj was formed in 1931 to help them keep in touch with their roots. It was followed by the Truthful Society, Navjivan Samaj, Gujarati School and the Gujarati Seva Samaj. All these associations came under one roof in the year 1963 when the Shree Madura Gujarati Samaj was formed. The building for this samaj was constructed in the year 1972. Today, the samaj acts as a home away from home for Gujaratis, where they can relish authentic Gujarati food, including shrikhand (sweet yogurt), dhokla and batata vada.

At present, there are two organisations, namely the Shree Madura Gujarati Samaj (estd.1963) and the Gujarati Seva Samaj (estd.1976), with membership from about 225 families living here. These families are engaged in different trades ranging from textiles, educational institutions, plywood, teak & timber wood, grocery, utensils, electrical goods, bicycles and even computers.

Being away from their home state, the Gujaratis have made a lot of effort to ensure that the younger generation does not lose touch with their tradition, culture and language. Nearly all the festivals that are celebrated in Gujarat be it Holi, Diwali, Janmashtami or Navratri are celebrated here with much fervour and enthusiasm. Both samaj come together at various occasions of celebration or grief. For a native of Madurai, the best way to experience a north-Indian festival is to get invited to a celebration at the samaj.

People from this community have contributed in a big way to the development of Madurai, one among them being Lalji Vora who was instrumental in giving Madurai its first mall, the Milan mall, about two years ago. People from the Gujarati community have thus carved an integral role in Madurai, adding colour to the multicultural hues in the city while also paving way for its development.

Source : http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes ... emple-city
 #6570  by Madurai Gilli
 August 28th, 2012, 10:10 am
Every year, Madurai witnesses a very extravagant Malayali cultural extravaganza when members of Vaedi, a cultural organization of Malayalis in Madurai, join together to celebrate Onam with all its cultural and traditional festivities.

Madurai has two well-known local associations for people from Kerala --- the Malayali Samajam, which is over 50 years old, and Vaedi. The latter is the more active one and has around 100 families as members. Once every quarter, the families get together and also showcase the skills of their children through cultural performances like dance.

A place that gives a feel of Kerala within Madurai is AVN Arogya Hospital on the outskirts of the city. Stepping into the premises of this healthcare centre gives you the true glimpse of Kerala culture with its buildings having tiled roofs surrounded by lush green gardens. The Ayyappa temple too is a replica of the one in Kerala.

According to Dr Ramesh Varier, director of AVN Arogya Healthcare, Onam is celebrated in a big way by all of them in Madurai, but it is an occasion to celebrate with one's parents. So usually, it is a meeting of families, but the festival is once again celebrated in Madurai post-Onam about a month after the original festival to keep the spirit alive.

The celebrations include floral floor art the 'pookolam' and a meal cooked with original Kerala delicacies, by cooks from Kerala.

S Jayanarayanan, secretary of the Malayali Samajam that was started in 1962, said they had 91 life members and 100 others. Samajam activities were revived since 2009, when they started promoting their cultural events and helping the poor in their community. A survey conducted by them showed there were about 1,500 families from their community in Madurai, he added.

Counting the number of Malayalis in Madurai would be impossible, for this is a community that has mingled with locals in every possible way. There are persons like J S Sukumar, who is more of a Tamilian than a Malayali, the only thing giving him away is his fluent Malayalam when in the company of people from Kerala.

Malayalis in Madurai speak their native language when at home, but teaching children the script has become a problem to many of them. "My son is more fluent in Tamil rather than Malayalam," said K George from Kerala.

The Malayalis have contributed to the holistic development of Madurai in more than one way. There are outstanding doctors, teachers, engineers and architects in the city as well as the ever-famous friendly tea stall owners.

Source - ... 859244.cms
 #6571  by Madurai Gilli
 August 28th, 2012, 10:21 am
The Sourashtrians first came to the temple city from the erstwhile Somnath region of Gujarat about 300 years ago, mainly because their skill in weaving impressed the monarchs of Madurai, namely Thirumalai Naicker and queen Mangammal who invited them to weave their royal clothes.

People from the community were given permission by the then monarchs to encroach the roads to dry their dyed thread and yarn, by putting up their looms. They mastered the art of dyeing using the water from Vaigai river, which they found was good for the thick dyes. Also known as 'silk thread makers', the Sourashtrians were given homes near the king's palace in the heart of Madurai city and even now, over 1,000 houses around the Thirumalai Naicker mahal belong to them and are architectural wonders of the bygone era. Walking on the streets around the mahal in the evenings can transport one back in time and women sitting on the doorsteps of closely packed houses, stringing jasmine flowers and decorating their hair is a common sight.

Weaving was their only trade till about 50 years ago. The resemblance between the design of Sungudi sarees of Madurai to the Bandhani of Gujarat stands as testimony to their origin. According to C K Narasimmachari, an octogenarian who has done a lot of research into this community, there are a little over two lakh Sourashtrians in Madurai. People from this linguistic minority are also found in Paramakudi, Dindigul, Thanjavur and other parts of Tamil Nadu. "We are culturally as well versed in the vedas as the brahmins, but are classified among the backward classes," he said. According to him, queen Mangammal set up a committee to review their expertise as brahmins opposed their claim. The committee finally did endorse that they too were vedic experts.

The contribution of people of this community to the development of Madurai is immense. The 101-year-old Sourashtra Higher Secondary school introduced the free meal scheme for its students much earlier than the government, says R Sridhar, a businessman. Known for having close knit families, the joint family system is very much prevalent among them even today, where many generations are seen living under one roof. They also believe in following various rituals and elders are given the prime importance in households. The Sourashtrians also actively participated in the freedom struggles of the region. N M R Subburam (1905 - 1983) spearheaded the freedom movement in the region by embracing Gandhian principles, for which he later came to be known as 'Madurai Gandhi'.

The famous Tamil playback singer T M Soundararajan belongs to this community. So were famous yesteryear stars like M N Rajam, Devika, Kanaga to name a few. Being religious, they have also contributed to the growth of Hinduism in this region. Their festivals are similar to the people of Madurai and they are now a very integral part of the social system.

People from this community love socializing and their cuisine is relished by people from all sectors. Variety rice, including lemon rice, tamarind rice, tomato rice and sambar made with mutton are some of their specialities. About half a century ago they started branching off into various business ventures, including textiles, education, banking and other commercial establishments and even today, some of the most successful businessmen in Madurai belong to this community. Politicians who have contributed to Madurai's development have also emerged from this society, like former MP AGS Rambabu. Organisations like the Sourashtra Club and Sourashtra Sabha help bring these people closer and also hold speech competitions for youngsters on a regular basis to ensure the sustenance of their dialect. A Ramkumar, a teacher, says that saving their dialect and making sure that the younger generation was familiar with it was one of the priorities of their community.

Source - http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes ... er-sungudi
 #6623  by Madurai Gilli
 August 28th, 2012, 11:53 pm
The Telugu population has completely amalgamated with the city’s profile.

If there is one community that has assimilated totally to the Madurai way of life, without even a trace of their origin, customs or festivals, it is perhaps the people from Andhra Pradesh.

With an estimated population of 200,000 in the city, the Naidus, Reddiars, Arya Vysyas (Telugu Chettiars) and numerous other groups, besides Brahmins – in the order of their numerical strength - settled down in these parts during the 200-year Nayak rule between the late 16th and early 18th centuries.


It was the time when Vijayanagar empire extended its control into Pandya kingdom after coming at the behest of a Pandya king to help oust Muslim invaders. After vanquishing the invaders, the Vijayanagar king appointed dependents or Nayaks to govern the land, paving the way for the Nayak dynasty.

According to S. Rajagopal of Small Industries Product Promotion Organisation, to facilitate ease of administration and protect the territory, the Nayak appointed 72 ‘Palayakkarars,’ who took up agriculture during peacetime. For this, ‘Kammas’ (warriors) were put in charge.

“Before the arrival of these people, Madurai region relied on river and canal irrigation. Coming as they were from a dry region (believed to be Rayalaseema region) where well-water irrigation system was prevalent, they introduced the same here, replacing ‘etham’ with ‘kamalai’ (process of pumping water to the fields).”

Work culture

For making the ‘kamalai’ made of leather, the ‘madhyas’ (cobblers) were brought. Soon, well diggers, carpenters and others started settling down here, the reason why many manual workers in Madurai speak Telugu.

There are ‘Kammas,’ ‘Balijas,’ ‘Velamas’ (of the Madurai Muniyandi Vilas fame) and other sub-sects in Madurai. While Telugu - with a generous mixture of Tamil - is spoken at home in some families, a majority of the Naidus know nothing but Tamil, and play a major role in political, financial and literary spheres in the State.


It is to the credit of the Nayaks that many grand edifices such as Tirumalai Nayak Mahal, Rani Mangammal palace (now Gandhi Museum), besides Mariamman Teppakulam, and temples were built in and around Madurai.

Reddiars, though not as many as Naidus, have also made Madurai home. There are about 10,000 of them in the city and more than a lakh in the outskirts. “About 90 per cent of us are hoteliers. Name any famous vegetarian restaurant in the major cities of Tamil Nadu and Kerala, Tirupati and Bangalore, it will be owned by a Reddiar,” says K.L. Kumar, proprietor of the Temple City group of hotels.

According to him, the Reddiars were nomads once and during the rule of Tirumalai Naick, they happened to catch a thief fleeing away from the palace. As a reward, the king gifted 25 villages in the Nanguneri region from where they spread out far and wide. Their forefathers, as workers, learnt the ropes of hotel business in Sri Lanka.

Mr. Kumar says majority of their people in Madurai are ‘Tirunelveli Reddiars,’ the soft-natured hoteliers while the others, the ‘Tirumangalam Reddiars’ (some are into the Muniyandi Vilas Military hotel business) and ‘Vadipatti Reddiars’ are into agriculture and other jobs. There are many sub-sects prefixed by the place in Andhra they came from such as Kandalar, Rajendrathar, Dhooriyar, Eenkilar etc. The first of the Reddiar hotels in Madurai was ‘Ambal Café’ (1945) opposite College House.

Comparatively less in number (about 1,000), Arya Vysyas or Telugu Chettiars run successful businesses in Madurai. M. Vijayanathan, industrialist, says before coming to Madurai, their people had settled down in Combai, Thevaram, Chinnamanur, Uthamapalayam etc. “Once, our people ran a bank, ‘Pathinengrama Arya Vysya Bank,’ which later merged with Vysya Bank. Wherever our people are, there will be a Kanniga Parameswari Amman temple, looked after by a Telugu Brahmin.”

All Arya Vysyas speak Telugu (with less Tamil words) and are vegetarians. Mr. Vijayanathan (79) says, “Those days, when boys were sent to schools and colleges in far away places, girls were sent to study under the Telugu Brahmin at the local temple, the reason why old women in our community can speak, read and write good Telugu.” Arya Vysyas are believed to have come from the Tenali, Guntur, Vijayawada region of Andhra Pradesh. “We used to run provision stores and jewellery stores in Madurai once. The former business has been taken over by the Nadars and the latter by Chettiars,” Mr. Vijayanathan says.


A distinct trait of all these people with their origin in Andhra Pradesh is that when they welcome or bid bye, they stand up erect, raise their folded hands up to the chest, instead of the customary one-handed wave, and do so in all politeness. Very pious people – Varalakshmi nonbu is important in their religious calendar – but then they have lost all contacts with Andhra, even its fiery hot food.

Source - ... 160400.htm
 #6624  by Madurai Gilli
 August 29th, 2012, 12:06 am
The national award winning Tamil film 'Adukalam' provided a peep into the Anglo Indian community of Madurai, who have a 200-year old connection with the temple city and have paved the way for its many developments.

People from this community were among the Europeans who helped the colonising forces develop Madurai for their convenience, many of which stand strong even today. The forefathers of most of Madurai's Anglo Indian community came here about 125 years ago, to work in the railways and also as teachers, doctors and lawyers.

Even today, one can witness elderly women who were trendsetters in this region, dressed in elegant western wear. The community is concentrated around Mahaboobpalayam, S S Colony and Ellis Nagar in Madurai and their houses still have a very English touch to them. Moses Pears, president of the Madurai branch of the All India Anglo Indian society says that they make great effort to preserve their traditions and make it a point to come together during festivals and social gatherings. Their weddings are solemnised in churches followed by civil ceremonies and they maintain very close family ties. Christmas and Easter and are celebrated with a lot of religious fervour. Walking into the Railway Colony in Madurai in the month of December will definitely give one the feel of an English Christmas with the fragrance of baking and Christmas trees filling the air.

A fun-loving community, they have also produced many outstanding sportsmen like Adolphus Claude Smith, Neville Rozario, Kalvin D'Cruz and Ashley Cleur who made their mark in Indian hockey. Ninety-one year old Jane Cleur and 84 year old Ida D'Costa talk fondly of Madurai's connection with these people, right from the pre-independence era.

Most of the present day Anglo Indians of Madurai, were born here and continue to be based here though they do make trips to visit their relatives living in Europe and Australia. People from Madurai have a special connection with the Anglo Indian community and maintain close friendships with them. "In the earlier days, if you wanted to master the English language, you had to attend the Railway School. It was dominated by teachers from the Anglo Indian community, who ensured quality education," says Sugumar, a former student of the school. When the Railway institute celebrated its centenary last year, the Anglo Indians were felicitated for their immense contribution.

Source - http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes ... rai-branch
 #6648  by Madurai Gilli
 August 29th, 2012, 4:15 pm
People from all corners have made Madurai their home and hearth


As dawn breaks, overnight trains spew dishevelled humankind at the Madurai Railway Junction.

The natives walk away in a brisk pace to the Periyar bus stand or autorickshaw stand with confidence and purpose. But quite a few others from other States and faraway lands collect themselves and their luggage on a different soil where they encounter a tongue twister of a language as they squeeze their way out through a motley crowd of paging people, metal detectors and a whole lot of eagerly waiting crowd to ‘receive’ them.

They emerge out in the open for a face-off with the autorickshaw and taxi drivers busy marking their target among themselves with shouts of “yellow churidar is mine,” “big-suitcase Sardarji for me,” “Don’t touch fat ‘saettu’ (Marwari),” “leave foreigner with torn jeans trouser for me” and the like.

For the bewildered outsiders, wriggling out of the mob is quite a task, amid a dissonant sounds of revving autos, offer of help in touristy Hindi and English — Meenakshi temple going madam?

And above all the thunderous Madurai Tamil piercing the sultry air, in a place where yelling rather than talking is customary for locals. “Phew! What a wild crowd”… newcomers may wonder. But the reality is quite the opposite. This is a melting pot of a city, though not on the scale of Mumbai, Delhi or Bangalore, but in its own old-world way.

This ancient trading centre, through the ages, has been attracting people from far off places in the country.


There is this multitude of Telugu speaking Naickers, Sourashtra speaking people from Gujarat and English-speaking Anglo-Indians, who’ve not only lost touch with their roots but also merged into the mainstream to add colour to the Madurai mosaic. Though these people are now scattered all over the city, the Sourashtrians are found mostly in the Tirumalai Naicker Mahal area and adjoining eastern parts of the city. The Urdu-speaking Muslims from Central and northwestern India are concentrated in Khaji Mar Street and Mahaboobpalayam respectively. The Anglo-Indians, though diminishing in numbers due to steady exodus to foreign countries, live mostly in Railway Colony, Ellis Nagar and S.S. Colony. Weavers, speaking Kannada, also migrated from Karnataka. So did Malayalees from Kerala. They have made Sellur their home. Pre-Independence Madurai saw a good number of Kutchi-speaking Memons, Gujaratis, Marwaris and others from Rajasthan and Sindhis from undivided India setting up their businesses and homes in the vicinity of Meenakshi Temple.

Joining mainstream

There are also quite a few people from Punjab, Orissa, West Bengal and even a handful of Pathans from faraway Afghanistan. Many of them come in search of a business base and once they establish themselves, they bring their kith and kin to form a community.

Over the years, some of these communities have joined the mainstream to talk the Madurai slang and behave like the natives do. A few others still hold on to their Kutch or Marwar roots to perpetuate the matrimonial and business contacts. A majority of the Naickers have switched over to Tamil from their anyway Tamilised Telugu over the generations.

On the other hand, Sourashtra people follow their customs and food habits and speak their own language, though garnishing it with Tamil words. Anglo-Indians marrying into Tamil families are also happening now and then.

Most of the migrants have become natives of the soil so much so that some of the good educational institutions and top business houses of Madurai are run by them. Not for nothing that Madurai is called Koodal Maanagar (city of confluence)

An ancient city and once the seat of Pandya kingdom, with virtues and valour much written about through the ages, this city is a perfect example of what Tamil Nadu as a whole is known for –— “Vandharai vaazha vaikkum Tamizhagam” (Giving a living to those calling).

Yet, Madurai remains unpretentious. It can never boast of the stilettos-filled shopping malls or big gulp multiplexes, or even the true blue fast food joints you find dime a dozen in big-time cities. It is hard to find even a trace of it here. But there are umpteen reasons to derive simple pleasures in this small city that never sleeps. Those who’ve taken roots here will vouch for the good qualities hiding behind the brusque behaviour of the locals. Unlike in the apartment culture of megapolises, where neighbours greet newcomers with a blank stare, people here are forthcoming and trustworthy too.

Simple trust and unbridled interest — the hallmark of villagers — are found in abundance here. While the outright approach may appear indecent and invasion of privacy in the initial days, once the bond with neighbours, hawkers, shopkeepers and locals strengthens, the outsiders get to know what true Madurai is all about. And, indeed, many go on to make Madurai home.

Source - ... 370400.htm

Do you need anything other than this to prove our Cosmopolitanity..?:cheers:
 #6649  by Madurai Gilli
 August 29th, 2012, 4:41 pm
Sourashtras have etched a prominent place for themselves in the city

Newcomers venturing into eastern parts of Madurai, particularly around Thirumalai Naick Mahal, will be surprised by the large number of people speaking a different language among themselves in the area and even switching over to Tamil with equal ease.

They are the Sourashtra people, who’ve made a mark for themselves in a plethora of fields through the past few centuries in this ancient city.

Going towards Vilakkuthoon from Periyar bus stand via South Masi Street or South Gate, one can make inroads into the ‘small Sourashtra country’, choc-a-block with houses and wholesale textile shops spread on the Manjanakkara Street, Panthadi streets and countless other bylanes.

By and by, the areas populated by Sourashtras have extended along both sides of arterial Kamarajar Salai towards Teppakulam. Their population is around 3,00,000 in a city of 12 lakh.

Prominent place in history

These versatile people have etched for themselves a prominent place in the history of Madurai.

Sourashtras of Madurai can be compared to the Chinese of Singapore. After settling down, there was no looking back for these industrious people.

Nostalgic baggage did not bog them down either.

In fact, most Sourashtras are even unaware of their ancestral land. Unlike several other dominant migrant communities like the Punjabis of Delhi, Gujaratis of Mumbai and Biharis of Kolkata, the Sourashtras of Madurai did not set out in search of El Dorado in the first place.

It is believed that their migration was prompted by Muslim incursion into Somnath to plunder its temple — by Ghazni Mohammed in the 10th century and later by Allauddin Khilji’s troops in the 12th century.


Having settled down en masse in Madurai along with the Nayaks from Vijayanagar, they have been taking part in the development of the city with their intricate weaving skill, business acumen, contribution to arts and education and delectable cuisine.

But for them, the tie-and-dye Sungudi (junnadi) cotton saris, synonymous with Madurai handlooms, would not have become famous.

The language they brought from the Saurashtra (as spelt in Rajkot and also Latha region, north of Surat) of Gujarat, underwent transformation in diction as they started moving southwards in the 12th century through Devagiri in Maharashtra and along the Konkan coast to Andhra Pradesh (the then Vijayanagar) to Madurai. It has little resemblance to what is spoken now in present-day Gujarat.

Having imbibed Marathi, Konkani and Telugu and a heavy dose of Tamil, their language has slightly deviated from its Indo-Aryan roots owing to the influence of the languages spoken where they migrated to.

In fact, it astonishes many visitors from Gujarat to hear their old-world language spoken down-South, since their original language has been overridden by more dominant Indo-Aryan languages such as Hindi and Urdu due to commercial reasons.

The zealous community’s resolve to speak their mother tongue at home and with fellow Sourashtras outside has assured not only the preservation of the language but also all their age-old customs and traditions.


K.R. Sethuraman, Saurashtralogist and a Sakitya Akademi awardee, says, “During betrothal (des) ceremony, we have this ritual called ‘baulas’ when the relatives of the bride and groom exchange information about their ancestry details of three generations to establish their identity (gothra) through a question and answer session.” Through this ritual, knowledge of our passage from one famous temple town of Somnath in Saurashtra (Kathiawad region) to another famous temple town of Madurai is passed on to the next generation.

Another distinctive feature that traces Sourashtras’ cultural roots is the ‘deepakheli’ or ‘brindavana kolattam’ (dancing with sticks), performed during weddings and other important ceremonies. It resembles the more famous ‘dandiya raas’ of Gujaratis.

According to Mr. Sethuraman, though Sourashtras practise distinctive traditions through their lineage, they have absorbed so many local traits as well. “Unlike their counterparts in Gujarat, our women do not cover their head in front of men or inside temples. It is one of the many definitely Dravidian traits followed by our people.”

Though Vaishanavites, they have no qualms about worshipping at Shiva temples. Of deeply religious and charitable disposition, Sourashtras have been patronising many famous temples in Madurai and have built choultries (roadside inns) at numerous places.

Dowry system is also not prevalent among the Sourashtras in Madurai. Generally law-abiding and honest people, they’ve proved their mettle in many spheres to contribute to the overall development of the city.

Source- ... 190400.htm
 #6685  by Madurai Gilli
 August 30th, 2012, 11:38 pm
The recent mass exodus of northeast people from the southern metros has sparked a range of debates. Here’s what the people from NE have to say about Madurai

They are easily identifiable anywhere, either in the bus or on the road, chirpy and lively – they are our fellow Indians from northeast. “We are also fast becoming Maduraiites,” smiles Probin Kuli, a construction labourer working for an Apartment builder in Madurai. “Hum bora bhar ke saaman aur man bhar ke sapne ke saath aaye (I came here with bagful of things and lots of dreams in my mind)” says Probin.

The last he visited his home in Tinsukia district of Assam was in 2009 for his brother’s wedding. Since then, Probin has made Madurai his home away from home, earning a daily wage of Rs.200. When recently, rumours spread that northeasterners are being targeted in cities of South India, Probin didn’t pay much heed to the matter. He confidently chose to remain here instead of fleeing.

“Initially, we panicked seeing the visuals of violence in Kokrajhar and the rumours of our people getting beaten up in places like Bangalore. We got calls from home,” says Probin. “But when we enquired with our employers and friends here, many of them were not even aware of such happenings. Those who knew comforted us saying that nothing like that would happen in Madurai. We were convinced that there was no trouble in Madurai.”

Noting that only last month, he was given a hike in the wages, Probin says, “Our Malik is a good man and the local people who work with us are also cooperative though we don’t know Tamil.”

Angom Phatowali, another labourer has been to different parts of the country and feels that Madurai is one of the few places where people from different sects live in harmony. “Many times our friends in Delhi and Mumbai tell us about incidents of harassment they face. . Sometimes we see news of our women being molested in the big cities. But, I have never come across such happenings in Madurai,” says Angom, a resident of five years.

Anubhav Soniwal says, “We have distinct features and our appearance makes us standout and this is one of the main reasons for people to discriminate us. Though many mistake us for Chinese and Burmese, I feel there is no discrimination in Madurai. People are much helpful than those in big cities.

Sentei Lalrem from Meghalaya, a beautician working at a salon in the town says that she and her friends are sometimes late from work but have never faced any danger. “Once we went for ice creams at eleven in the night. Except for a few men smoking at a petty shop, the road was empty. They didn’t misbehave. I feel safe in Madurai,” she says.

Shabina Nipatra from Jorhat in Assam says, “Though the people of Madurai are not very friendly and outgoing, they don’t trouble either. We are used to wearing modern clothes and this being a conservative town, initially we invited strange looks. But now, after nearly 3 years, I feel people don’t really mind.” She adds, “We are few here and become friends easily. Though we don’t mingle much with the locals, in our respective work places, we come in contact with many and get along well with all,” she says.

If not elsewhere, our northeast brethren surely feel at home in the temple city. After all, it is Madurai, the soil known for its hospitality and as Probin puts it,Yahan sab jee sakte hain. Sab ke liye jagah hai (Everyone can live here. All have a place here)”

Source - ... 840008.ece
 #6703  by Madurai Gilli
 September 1st, 2012, 9:07 pm
History of Madurai is the very history of its lakhs of inhabitants – who came from far and wide throughout the ages in search of a better life, found the city worthwhile and began to call it home.

The majority Tamil speaking populace has inadvertently classified the rest of the city's residents into Sourashtras, Marwaris (saettu), Muslims (Bhai), Naidus, Malayalees, Anglo-Indians (dorais) etc. The so called Marwari could, in fact, be a Gujarati-speaking Patel, Sindhi-speaking Raheja or even a Kutchi-speaking Memon.

Vibrant culture

And the ‘bhai' would either be speaking Urdu or wearing ankle-high lungi and skull cap and speaking chaste Ramnad Tamil. As for the ‘Naidu,' it is anybody who speaks Telugu, whether he is a Reddiar or Arya Vysya or sundry others. In the ‘dorais' case, there were instances of blonde-haired Anglo-Indians walking down Town Hall Road having been mistaken as easy-to-fleece foreigners visiting Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple.

However, except for the Sourashtras who are concentrated in the eastern parts of Madurai, and Muslims in a small way in Khaji Mar Street area, Mahaboobpalayam, Goripalayam, Nelpettai and Ismailpuram, other areas in the old city have not been ghettoised. This has resulted in people speaking many languages, practicing different faiths and celebrating their own festivals mingle within the confines of the densely-populated areas south of Vaigai. Later, the working class moved into Sellur on the other side of the river, and much later the nouveau-riche into Anna Nagar and KK Nagar.

Through the Madurai Mosaic column in the past one year, one could only scratch the surface of this magnificent city. But still, out came into the open a bewildering assortment of customs and traditions, ambitions and ideas of these colourful communities, the diversity of which could even rival that of many metropolitan cities.


In the process, many popular perceptions about the different communities turned out to be mere misconceptions. Some were thought to be unethical businessmen who are the sorts that flee the city after amassing wealth by hook or by crook, others were suspected to be treacherous while yet others were likened to sitting ducks.

On the contrary, but for the language and distinct traits, the migrants -- both who came after 1900 and others who settled down centuries earlier – take pride in calling themselves natives of Madurai and its great temples.

The distinct ‘Madurai accent' in all of them is unmistakable, revealing the long years of bond with the city and its people. And these people are crazy about Tamil films and songs. In fact, many do not even have a faintest idea about films or songs in the language they speak at home everyday. It was a pleasant surprise to come across some who were either seriously into Tamil literature or interested in it.

Many like G.R. Mahadevan, C.R. Patel, Harisingh, Abdul Karim Zaveri, Mahesh Chhabria, Shantilal Sangoye, P C Thomas, Ramakrishna Rao, Marcus Cleure … the list is long… were more than glad to share the traits of their respective communities to make the world get a better understanding of them. Their hospitality was overwhelming. Quite a few others perceived this column to be an affront to compartmentalise people of a homogenous nature and acted rude, affirming involuntarily that it takes all sorts of people with different views and temperaments to make a vibrant city.

Madurai, it seems, remains a successful trading centre since ancient times only through the combined efforts and pooled talents of its people from diverse backgrounds.

Instead of mixing and diluting the distinct features of its communities in a melting pot to churn out urban stereotypes as in the United States of America, this city of unpretentious people has preserved the individualistic traits of its communities even while creating a colourful pattern of mosaic, dissimilar yet harmonious.

Source - ... 210400.htm
 #6704  by Madurai Gilli
 September 1st, 2012, 9:15 pm
Joie de vivre of Durga puja comes alive on South Masi Street

When everybody is excited about Diwali and making purchases, I am on ‘rewind' mode. I can still hear the beats sound of dhaak in my ears. The image of Goddess Durga, which no Bengali can erase from their minds, is like a flitting frame.

No, I am not really missing Kolkata. It's not my hometown. I have neither been an active participant in the ‘sarbojanin durgotsab' for the past 11 years. Yet, during each of the years gone by, when I have been far away in Madurai, I have felt the pang… the isolation… the loneliness of an outsider, especially during the autumn.

During those five days of exuberant ‘pujo celebrations', my father would unfailingly call me to remind: “Its ashtami today.” A silent prayer to the Goddess was all that I managed. But, hardly a year has passed without remembering my childhood days spent in different residential areas of Delhi, where we would be actively involved in every aspect of the celebration.

The excitement always started with the school closing for autumn break and my working mother finally finding time to take me and my sister to the market. We never returned with less than three pairs of new dresses and sometimes we would also receive an extra one from maternal and paternal aunts and uncles. Next, came preparation for various competitions – from different types of races (100 metre sprint, sack race, lemon-on-the-spoon, three-legged race…) to recitation (mostly Tagore's poems), drawing, skit presentation, dancing and singing. We took all this seriously and invariably returned home with loads of prizes on ‘vijay dashami'. Much later in life did we realize how all this helped to connect the ‘probashis' to ‘Bangla' culture.

We kids would be there in every dance-drama or play, doing some role for the cultural programme daily evening. Professional artistes, well known bands and troupes or cine stars from Bengal would take centrestage little later followed by all night screening of Bengali films.

Eating the ‘bhog prasad' at the pandal on all the days was something we all looked forward to as kitchen in the house would literally be closed. We went home only to change into a new dress if we were lucky enough to have more that year. Parents would allow us to be on our own at the pandal with all neighbourhood ‘mashimas' (aunts), ‘dada-boudis', and ‘didis' (elder brothers and sisters). Queuing up for the ‘khichuri (rice and lentil cooked together with vegetables) bhog and payesh (payasam) and then having it as many times as one wanted was an excitement unmatched.

Durga puja to every Bengali brings in assorted sentiments – from religious to bonhomie, it is quintessentially about bonding with an inexplicable pride of being a Bong. All these years, I ended with trips down memory and sharing my childhood Durga puja stories with my children.

This year turned out to be unexpectedly different.

As always, my father called: “Do you know its navami today?,” his tone was admonishing. “There's no pujo here,” I mumbled. At office it was work as usual till an enthusiastic colleague dragged me out. Manoeuvreing our way through congested lanes around the Meenakshi Temple, the moment we turned into South Masi Street, I skipped a beat. Unbelievingly, I heard the feeble beats of the dhaak which grew rhythmically louder as we approached the Patcharisikara Mandapam.


With my heart beating faster now, I stepped in. In the drone of dhaak beats, I could hear the brass gong, the pundit chanting the ‘Durga stotra', the cacophony of Bengali conversations, the rustling of crisp cotton and shimmering silk saris. The glowing face of the Goddess loomed above the devotees gathered around to offer ‘pushpanjali'. The ‘dhunuchi' dancer swirled the flaming incense burners above his head. I could smell the powerful garam-masalas going into the khichuri bhog from a distance.

I turned gooey-eyed by the vignettes of mini-Bengal in Madurai

“There are 2,000 of us living here for last 12 years. Only this year, we were able to raise donation and welcome Goddess Durga to Madurai” – the organizing committee president Rabin Chattar, could not help beaming. I gathered facts -- hundreds of goldsmiths along with their families have been arriving in Temple Town from Medinipur district of Bengal, making Madurai their home. They all live and work around the famous gold jewellery market.

With all humility I ended my 12 year drought of offering ‘pushpanjali' during Durga puja. This year I owe it to the 20-member team of Rabin da and the numerous Bengali and non-Bengali families who donated generously for conducting the first-ever Durga Puja in the city.

Source - ... 551808.ece