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 #6705  by Madurai Gilli
 September 1st, 2012, 9:31 pm
Going down South Masi Street from D.M. Court towards Vilakkuthoon, after Manjanakkara Street branches off, one is enveloped by textile shops and showrooms. There are hole-in-the-wall outlets with just space for bargaining juxtaposed with glass-facade showrooms, all doing brisk business amid shrill horns from the busy street, shouts of sweaty loaders and tricycles full of bales ramming their way through shoppers, cycles, two-wheelers and autorickshaws.

This energetic pocket is the stronghold of Halai Memons in Madurai, though they run their textile business all over the city.


Stress on surname

Unlike the shops of their brethren from Pallapatti, the names of the Memon shops mostly bear the surname of the founder or owner. Many of the Memons have been successful in their business so much so that shops they run such as Hajee Moosa, A.K. Ahmed, Tayubs etc have become household names in Madurai.

Their ancestry can be traced to Sindh in Pakistan from where they migrated to Halar region of Kathiawar in Gujarat. It is said that while the name Memon derived from the original word, momin (the faithfuls) after they embraced Islam in the 15th century, the prefix, Halai, is a mutant of Halari region in Gujarat. Thus, the Memoni dialect picked up words vastly from Sindhi, Kutchi, Urdu, Arabic and Gujarati, the lipi (script) of which they use for correspondence and literature.


Says Abubakar Hasim (77), president of Halai Memon Association in Madurai, “The first of the Memons, five sons of Hajee Mohammed — Essa, Ibrahim, Ismail, Yousuf and Hajee Moosa — started a textile shop on East Chithirai Street in 1878. Over a period of time, the brothers and their descendants started shops on their own not only in Madurai but in Tiruchi and Chennai as well.”

In 1893, one of the Memon brothers set foot in Tiruchi after getting orders to supply cloth to all the 19 cooperative stores in Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka of South India Railways (now Southern Railways) which had its headquarters in that city then. [ why we lost it then ? :bash: ]

Even during the ‘control period’ of the world war times, when cloth imported were first supplied to the military and the public stood in queues in front of shops to buy rationed cloth all over the country, the Madurai Memons, through their business contacts and clout in Bombay, the Mecca of textiles, were canny enough to work through the quota system to buy cloth and did a roaring wholesale business in Madurai. It took four months for the bullock carts transporting textile goods to reach Madurai then.

Difficult period

Reminiscing about the ‘Glasgow mull,’ ‘Mettur mill gaada’ and Kovilpatti mill long cloth, Mr. Abubakar says, “With good education and alluring jobs in the IT field and other cushy jobs in the Middle East and western countries, many educated Memoni youth in Madurai have veered away from their traditional textile business.” Without any remorse, he reasons himself saying, “Everything turns out for the better.”

Now, there are about 1,200 Memons in Madurai. These sunni Muslims continue to maintain contacts with their relatives in Ranavav, Porbandar and Dhoraji in Saurashtra region of Gujarat.

According to Abdul Karim Zaveri, joint-secretary of the Halai Memon Association, “Our people run shops mostly on South Masi Street, Mahal Vadampokki Street, Vilakkuthoon and Jadamuni Koil Street. A majority of the Memons reside in Anna Nagar, K.K. Nagar and Parasakthi Nagar near Villapuram where our association has built 72 free houses along with a community hall for the poor among us.”

Philanthropic activities

Listing out their philanthropic activities such as conducting medical camps, giving financial assistance to students etc, Mr. Karim, whose forebears in Porbandar employed Mahatma Gandhi and took him to South Africa, says that their charitable activities are not limited to their people but all the needy in Madurai, which is home to the largest concentration of Memons in Tamil Nadu.

Source - ... 340400.htm
 #6706  by Madurai Gilli
 September 1st, 2012, 9:55 pm

Enter any bustling wholesale bazaar or shopping area, any street or lane in Madurai -- but for South Avani Moola Street where jewellery shops are located -- you are sure to find more than one shop owned by a north Indian.

Though Marwaris form the bulk, followed by Gujaratis (a distant second) among the 20,000-plus north Indian populace in the city, there are a handful of other communities as well.

According to C.R. Patel, vice-president of Madurai North Indians’ Welfare Association (MANIWA), Madurai is home to Sindhis (Rachna’s beauty salon, money lenders), Punjabis (Popli Bros, Punjabi Dhaba) from undivided Punjab, Agrawals (Arya Bhavan group of restaurants, grain and steel merchants) and Maheswaris (Sri Krishna Cut-Piece Junction etc) from Haryana, totalling about 1,000 people.

Besides, there are 400 Marathi goldsmiths, who are experts in melting gold and settled down in Madurai more than 50 years ago, and nearly 400 Bengalis, recent migrants and proficient in making intricate designs on jewels, These two communities do not come under MANIWA, a federation of 15 north Indian associations in the city, formed two years back.

A recent phenomenon is the migration of labourers from Bihar. They are engaged in construction work such as roads, bridges, and stone quarries. Mr.Patil says unassuming Madurai and the rest of Tamil Nadu offer a lot by way of business and employment opportunities to those from other States.

Mahesh Chhabria, whose forebears are from Shikarpur in Sindh in undivided Punjab (now in Pakistan), says the Sindhis started settling down in ‘peaceful south’ in the wake of partition turmoil in the Indo-Pak border regions.

His father Bhojraj Karamchand Chhabria came to Madurai in 1947. Mr. Chhabria says the 125-odd staunch Hindus have their own temple on Pappankinathu Street off South Masi Street to cater to the Rahejas, Hindujas, Bajaj and Bathijas! (yes, these celebrated surnames form the tail to the names of some of the Sindhis in Madurai).

Though the affluent Sindhis as well as the early migrants from north Indian States have totally assimilated to the local culture and become a part of Madurai, they have not lost touch with their own culture and traditions either.

The Sindhis in Madurrai congregate at their temple to celebrate Chetti Chand during March-April to celebrate their new year and birth anniversary of their river-deity, Jhulelal.

They also have a fetish for sev poori, kadi chaaval, malpua and make them especially during the festival season and wedding ceremony, which is usually an elaborate three-day affair.

Dearth of ‘chaat’ corners

However, Mr. Chhabria rues the dearth of north Indian joints serving ‘chaat’ and other typical tangy snack items though Remuki at K.K.Nagar brings in the ‘dhoklas and kachoris’.

There are provision stores like the Vohra Traders in Simmakkal and another in a lane adjacent to Arasamaram Pilliyar Koil on Kamarajar Salai exclusively catering to the needs of people from northern States. “Still very few north Indian restaurants in Madurai serve the ‘khana with asli swaad’, he laments.

The North Indians, otherwise, collectively celebrate the holi, the festival of colours wuith much fun and gaiety. If the boisterousness of holi or dandiya during navaratri is the same as seen in our native places, it is with equal passion we also join in all the major south Indian festivities like Deepavali and Pongal,” he adds..

As a gesture of serving the city that gave them a living, all the migrant communities have also been helping the needy by way of charitable activities through their respective associations.

Social service

Being an umbrella organisation, the MANIWA on its part has donated calipers, wheelchairs and tricycles to the physically challenged people from southern districts through two health camps.

Its general secretary P. Mohanlal Choudhry says they’ve drawn up a plan to establish a goshala for stray cows and are scouting for 5-10 acres of land within a radius of 20 km from the centre of city.

“All successfully running goshalas in the State are maintained by north Indians only. On the lines of the one in Coimbatore with 900 cows, and in Erode with 450 animals and five goshalas in Chennai, we want to establish one in Madurai,” he says.

“Though we have the money and wherewithal to go ahead with our plan, we welcome philanthropists to give free land with good water facility and scope for vegetation and the money thus saved could be ploughed back for the operational expenses of the goshala,” says Mr. Choudhry

Source - ... 070400.htm
 #6707  by Madurai Gilli
 September 1st, 2012, 10:06 pm
Shops or temples, food or festivals, they have brought their world to Madurai and settled well here


Madurai’s reputation as a commercial hub is accentuated by the presence of the large number of wholesale merchants, majority of them north Indians who started settling down in the city from the 1930s.

Among them, Rajasthanis form the bulk, with a population of 25,000. Since most of them hail from Marwar region (Jodhpur area), they are collectively called ‘Marwaris’, though some are natives of other parts of Rajasthan.

A majority of Marwaris in Madurai are Jains who run about 400-odd shops. The Hindus from Rajasthan — Raj Purohits, Choudharys, Rajputs (once the ruling class and the only non-vegetarian sect) and others — run another 500-odd shops.

These shops are situated around Meenakshi temple — on Valayalkara Street (old and new), Hanumantharayan Koil Street, West Avani Moola Street, West Masi Street, Netaji Road, West Vadampokki Street, Vilakkuthoon, Lakshmipuram and Khanpalayam.

Variety business

While Jains are always the owners of the shops, they employ Hindus from their State and sometimes locals too. Marwaris dabble in a variety of wholesale businesses such as electric goods, bangles and cosmetics, fancy goods, stainless steel utensils and sheets, readymade garments … the list is long.

But not pawn broking! According to U. Hari Singh, a metals trader whose native place is Vandar in Pali-Marwar district, “In Tamil Nadu, you will find Marwari pawn brokers only in Chennai and northern districts where the locals are docile. Beyond Vriddhachalam down south, it is tough to do business with some communities. The very few shops that were running in the southern districts downed their shutters more than a decade ago.”

“Unlike other migrant communities in Madurai, we rely on integrity and never change our line of business,” asserts Mr. Hari Singh.

According to Vimalchand Jain, who hails from Siwana, Barmer district, “We act as a bridge between factories in north India and consumers in south India. They give us goods on credit which cannot be availed by the locals.”

Strict vegetarians

Being strict vegetarians (they do not even eat root vegetables such as onion, garlic, potato and carrot), the Jains have a bhojanalaya near the Main Guard Square exclusively meant for their travelling folks.

The Hindu Marwaris have a temple, Ramdev Mandir on Velliambalam lane off South Chithirai Street.

The Hindus run many eateries in Madurai. While Sankhwala on Jadamuni Koil Street, Mohan Bhojanalaya on Dhanappa Mudali Street and Ramdev Bhojanalaya opposite Central Theatre are popular among the locals as well, there are many other rustic joints which cater to the migrant populace, mostly workers at shops, with typical Rajasthani fare.

Another favourite with the locals is the Choudary’s milk shop near Arya Bhavan on West Masi Street. One cannot get the sort of lassi the Sawai Madhopur men serve in the day and hot badam milk at night anywhere else in the city. This shop and the paan shop on Netaji Road serve as late night meeting places for the migrants.

Two sects

Among Jains, there are two sects — Digambars (conservatives, the ones who run marble business in Madurai) and Shwetambar, who form the majority. While a Digambar temple is in Gomathipuram, Shwetambar temples can be found in Main Guard Square, near Iyer Bungalow (both built in Shikarbandh style with vimana), Jadamuni Koil Street (Ghar Mandir style), Appavu Pillai Lane and Mela Gopura Vaasal.

The Jains celebrate Paryusan, an eight-day festival that culminates after a fast to coincide with Vinayakar Chathurti. On that day, they take out a procession from their temple in which the deity is any one of the 24 tirthankaras, the enlightened ascetics (there is no temple dedicated to the 24th tirthankara, Mahavir, in the city).

The Marwari Hindus, so also the Jains, celebrate Deepavali, Navaratri and Holi.

The Jains and Hindus share a common language, Marwari, and mingle with each other during festivals.

At times of crisis, Marwaris help one another through loans with very low interest, but only once.

Their only grouse is: with so many Marwaris in Madurai and down south (5,000 in Tirunelveli and 2,000 in Nagercoil), there is no direct train to Rajasthan. At least, the Chennai Egmore-Jodhpur weekly express can be extended to Nagercoil or Madurai. It will also be useful to Tamilians who serve in the massive military base in Jodhpur, they say.

Source - ... 680400.htm
 #6708  by Madurai Gilli
 September 1st, 2012, 10:14 pm
Some things quintessentially have a sense of belonging to a particular place and people. Take pongal, for instance. It is sold everywhere - from roadside eateries to famous restaurants - in the city. But still it is hard to come across the right, tasty and inexpensive variety of pongals tamarind, tomato, coconut - than at small eateries in the Dinamani Talkies area, which are run by the Sourashtras, the founders of this fast food of a busy handlooms age.


King of pongals

Pongal and Sourashtras are like synonyms. The king of their pongals is "puliyodharai" or "ambhad bhath" in their language. Non-Sourashtras somehow fail to make this simple dish to perfection.

Of all the vegetarian eateries, including those without a name board, the famous ones are Nagalakshmi Annexe near Alankar Theatre and Revathy Tiffin Centre on Krishnapuram First Street. Till two decades back, it was Mangala Vilas that ruled the roost, old timers say. With their huge numbers, these joints have silently drowned the noisy parotta stalls in the Keezha Vaasal area.

The Sourashtras have made a mark in the non-vegetarian milieu as well. Panaimarathu biriyani hotel off Thavittu Sandhai is renowned. It is a routine for people in the busy wholesale areas of East Madurai to start their evenings with another invention of Madurai Sourashtras, `pangara paan bhairi' or `mullu murungai elai adai,' bought hot and soft off pushcarts. It is believed to be an instant cure for dry cough.

Bun halwa

Says businessman K.S. Ramasamy: "We do not use much coconut in our food." Whenever former Chief Minister Kamaraj visited Madurai, he used to ask for idlis made in mud pot (tovli phalar) at a place near DM Court," he recalls. The "bun halwa" made from big rusk bread - a delicacy prepared during special occasions at home - is another sell-out. These days it is available at a sweet shop near Therkku Vaasal bus stop.

After food, comes cinema. Tamil films have always provided the much-needed respite to working men and women after a hard day's toil in the looms. It is no surprise then that Sourashtras have built many of the famous theatres in the city.

Says T.K. Subramanian, retired Tamil professor and pattimandram speaker: "Sourashtras have been not only a faithful audience of music and movies all along, but performers par excellence too. Apart from playback singer T.M. Soundararajan, who stands tall among all famous Madurai Sourashtras in the film world, there are many others who have been enriching the cultural scene. Many were exponents in violin, mridangam and veena. But with police restrictions and other avenues of entertainment like TV and cinema, the audience to the late night events is dwindling now."

Freedom struggle

Sourashtras have taken active part in the freedom struggle as well. When Rajaji took out a padayatra from Tiruchi to Vedaranyam from Tiruchi, 10 of the 46 participants were Sourashtras. Says G. R. Mahadevan, retired former vice principal, "N.M.R. Subburaman, fondly called as `Madurai Gandhi,' though coming from a family of high standing stooped to clean the toilets at a Dalits colony in Madurai, following the Mahatma's ideals not only in words but also in deeds."

"His benevolence could be gauged from the fact that he let Madurai Kamaraj University use his sprawling bungalow in posh Chokkikulam for a rent of Re. 1 a month on a 99-year lease. Yet another noteworthy and widely prevalent practice in our community is eye donation," he adds.

Another amazing fact is that the Sourashtra language has thrived for several centuries despite being only a spoken language. Not many new materials are written in Sourashtra to keep the language of this oldest migrant society of Tamil Nadu alive. The only solution, perhaps, is the wide promotion of a well-structured `lipi' (script) to the language.

Similarly, the traditional methods in textile production are fast fading into oblivion. Points out Mr. Ramasamy, "There used to be a time when women used to sit at their doorstep tying the knots on cloth (for dyeing to make the Sungudi sari) over a chat with neighbours who'll also be doing the same. These women passed on the laborious technique from one generation to another."

Likewise there were many techniques - like boiling senna leaves (alla paan) in water in the dyeing process to get fade resistant fast colours. Now, the younger generation is more interested in IT and other fields. So, many skills of our old people are dying with them."

Source - ... 270400.htm
 #6709  by Madurai Gilli
 September 1st, 2012, 10:22 pm
GUJARATIS have pioneered many a business not only in the city but in the country and abroad too


A decade after the end of World War I, a 21-year-old Kutchi youth from Bombay, decided to make it big in Japan and without informing anybody at home, he came South by train to set sail from Dhanushkodi to Colombo and thence to the Far East.

With Rs.350 in hand for the passage, he learnt at Dhanushkodi that one needed passport and Visa to go abroad. Days later, he found himself wandering in the streets of Madurai and was bowled over by the thriving textile business and decided that it was the place he wanted to do be in. The year was 1929.

As a hawker

G.P. Sangoye started his life in Madurai as a hawker carrying head load of dress materials. What he started as a small shop (Truthful Company) on Town Hall Road, grew into a mammoth organisation, giving employment to hundreds of fellow Gujaratis, besides the locals over the years.

Says his son Shantilal, “After finding perchance a huge market lying untapped, my father introduced readymade garments in Madurai and also pioneered the registry of the Clothing Manufacturers’ Association of India (CMAI), an apex body in Mumbai. At one time, there were 600 tailors and 40 cutters working at our unit in a building we bought from the Palayampatti zamin on Kamarajar Salai, where now the Nirmala Girls Higher Secondary School is.”

Adds Mr. Shantilal: “Though we played a major part in the influx of Gujaratis, Kutchi Memons landed in Madurai much before us. Some of our employees at that time initially came to the South to work on railway contracts such as laying Madurai-Bodinaickanur line and civil works like construction of the Collectorate and Ellis Nagar rail over-bridge and stayed back to work with us. Shivji Vira, a contractor, came to Madurai way back in 1890. His descendants are living in Arasaradi now.”

A big community

There are about 200 families – 70 per cent Hindus and 30 per cent Jains - from Gujarat in Madurai. Most of the Gujaratis from the Kutch, the biggest district in India and larger in area than Kerala, are into the business of readymade garments. Amman Sannathi is choc-a-bloc with their showrooms.

Says Nitin S. Shah of Classic, “Many of us were dealing in handloom goods, like towels made in Sellur, once. But when cheaper power loom towels from Sholapur in Maharashtra strangled the handloom sector, we switched over to other businesses.”

Their success can be borne by the fact that one of the leading hoteliers in the city, R. Surendra of Hotel Supreme, developer of the first mall in Madurai, Lalji Vora of Milan, Dilip Patel, founder of Torino, a popular soft drink company and keeping pace with the MNCs at Vilangudi and Kishore V.Sangoi of Remuki, a leading departmental store, are all Gujaratis.

According to C.R. Patel of Kwality Sales Agency, “Gujaratis are known for their craftsmanship and masonry work, the reason why they were sought after everywhere and came down to Madurai also. After the country’s independence, handloom and chemical businesses attracted Gujaratis to Madurai. Like in the U.S., motels and Patels are inseparable, back home they rule the timber business across the country and Madurai is no exception. Most of the shops that sell timber, plywood, tiles and other construction materials on West Perumal Maistry Street, Sellur and Bypass Road are run by the Patels.


Behind the soft-natured disposition of these vegetarians is sharp business acumen. Unlike the go-getter Marwaris, Gujaratis are known to take calculated risks. They attach importance to business integrity and serving the society. Through Shree Madura Gujarati Samaj, they’ve been donating 20,000 to 30,000 notebooks to poor students in the city every year. From this year, fabric for uniforms has also been added. The Gujarat Samaj has a library with a collection of about 5,000 books in Gujarati and other languages.

To keep their customs and traditions alive, the community never misses their calendar of events. With all their shimmering ghagras and cholis, Gujaratis enthrall with dandiya rass/garba during navaratri. The function is held at five places in the city. The Jains celebrate Paryusan with Marwaris, and the Kutchis their new year on June 24.

Source - ... 550400.htm
 #6710  by Madurai Gilli
 September 1st, 2012, 10:33 pm
The family system, customs and traditional practices of Tamilians and Keralites are indistinguishable


There’s this old and tired cliché about Malayalees and migration — when Armstrong landed on the moon and before he could find his bearings, there was this Nair guy asking from his teashop whether he needed a hot cuppa!

But then why is it that the omnipresent Malayalee tea shops, found all over the place in any other city, are not to be seen anywhere in Madurai, one may wonder. Reason: they are everywhere, but without the telltale signs of fluorescent-coloured lungis usually worn by the menfolk and ceramic crockery neatly arranged on shelves. It is estimated that there are more than one lakh people of Kerala origin in Madurai.


According to a retired railway man T.C. Thomas, who came from Kalluppara in erstwhile Tiruvalla district in the early 50s to Madurai, migration of people and trading of commodities from Kerala to Tamil Nadu and vice versa have been happening for many centuries, from the days of Cheras, Cholas and Pandyas. Businessmen from Kozhikode and other places in the Malabar coast have been trading in textiles since time immemorial.

“There was a spurt in the migration from the start of 20th century when people from many parts of Kerala, particularly from the Malabar coast, joined as labourers in the Harvey Mills, Fenner and numerous other textile mills here. At the same time, pappad makers from Kunnamkulam and nearby areas in Trichur district also set shop in Subramaniapuram and Jaihindpuram areas. Weavers in large numbers settled down in Sellur and surrounding areas.”

Mr.Thomas says Malayalee craftsmen are known for their intricate workmanship, an eye for detail and aesthetics. A lot of coppersmiths and mirror makers also descended on Madurai. Many of them are found in Anaiyur.Since they’ve merged with the locals through the generations, they’ve lost their Malayalee identity. Only a persistent prodding will reveal their lineage,” he says.

Many Malayalees also occupied important posts in Madurai. Some are: the first District Congress Committee president George Joseph (1940s), District Collector E.C.P. Prabhakaran (late 50s), many principals of American College and top executives of Madura Coats and Fenner. At one time, almost all nurses in Mission Hospital and head nurses in Erskine Hospital (Government Rajaji Hospital) were from Kerala.

Among the Malayalee Christians from the Chengannur-Tiruvalla-Changanassery-Kottayam belt, there are people belonging to denominations such as Orthodox Syrian with a church on Bypass Road, and Marthomites, who conduct their service in Tamil Nadu Theological Seminary in Arasaradi, besides a good number of Roman Catholics from Kollam coast, who’ve settled down in Mahaboobpalayam, and very few Anglo-Indians.

According to S. Jayanarayanan, secretary of Malayali Samajam-Madurai,You’ll find Malayalees from all walks of life in Madurai. Since many hide behind a ‘local’ identity for business or survival purpose, it is hard to pinpoint one as a Keralite. The family system, customs and traditional practices of Tamilians and Keralites being indistinguishable from one another, it is all the more difficult. Moreover, those who settled down here long back think and act like the locals do, be it religious ceremonies or social functions.”


The weavers of Kerala ancestry belong to the Kaikula Chettiar community. Right from well-known restaurants, furniture shops and top-notch shops on Town Hall Road run by Malabar Muslims to shops inside Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple (Kovil kadai), Keralites run all sorts of business in Madurai, Mr. Jayanarayanan, who is a native of Palakkad, says.

“Except for the first-generation migrants whose accent is a give away (sometimes mistaken as Kanyakumari Tamil), the rest pass off as locals. The Namboodiri-Iyer-Iyengar-Nambiar-Menon-Nair-Ezhava … caste system and hierarchy prevalent in Kerala is totally absent among Madurai Malayalees. More heartening is the resultant inter-caste marriages among our people,” says Guruvayur-born K.R. Sankaran, president of the Samajam.

The association, started in the 60’s, lost its moorings over the years and is back on its feet. It is enlisting members and plans to start a primary school with Malayalam medium of instruction. It has a small library at its office off Bypass Road.

Food they love

Madurai Malayalees, who maintain contact with their homeland, do miss some things. Berley Peter from Thalavady near Tiruvalla says most of the typical Kerala vegetables, rice varieties (red rice or kutharisi) etc., are available here, though not of the desired quality. “But ‘karimeen’ (sort of ‘jilebi kendai’), a much loved delicacy of all Malayalees is not available at all. Same is the case with ‘kappa’ (tapioca) and the overpowering kandhari chilli that is needed for preparing the sammandhi to go with it.”

She says even the ethakkai (plantain) that is available here is of ‘pandikkai’ variety and inferior to the yellow ‘naadankai’ which does not need turmeric while making chips. Same is the case with ‘karivellari’ (big cucumber) that is used as a vegetable in Kerala.

“Otherwise, all the eriseri, puliseri etc., take different names here while the ingredients and the cooking methods have subtle difference,” she says.

As for saris and churidars, Keralites prefer lighter shades while Madurai shops are awash with dark ones, Ms. Berley rues.

Malayalees of all faiths come together every year to celebrate Onam while Vishu and Deepavali are celebrated by the Hindus.

Source - ... 910400.htm"
 #6730  by Sankar
 September 4th, 2012, 6:18 am
MADURAI: A large number of Telugu speaking people from various parts of Andhra Pradesh started migrating towards Tamil Nadu during the 16th century and when the Nayak rule flourished in Madurai, they started settling in this part of the state as these rulers appointed them to various posts in their administration.

Professor T S Giriprakash, former head of the department of Telugu and comparative literature, Madurai Kamaraj University says that today, 40% out of the total population of Madurai has its origins in Andhra Pradesh. They are distinguished by various castes such as Naidus, Reddiars and Arya Vysyas and collectively known as the Arava Telugus. But they have no common association to link them at present. According to Professor Giriprakash, he made an attempt to bring them under a single umbrella by forming the Telugu Cultural Association, way back in the year 1983, "but it died a slow death due to the lack of interest among the people, in a span of just six years," he says.

People from this community are fluent in both Telugu and Tamil and have become so integrated with the local society that most of them follow many rituals and customs as the Tamils. They came in large numbers during the initial migration and were assigned all types of jobs from the top most posts in the armed forces to even doing small jobs, like cleaning and sanitation. It is said that people from Andhra Pradesh helped the people in these parts to take up well irrigation for agriculture and tide over the drought situation.

Dr Prajna of a reputed city hospital says that the community had become very integrated with the local Tamil culture over the last 400 years and do not have many connections with their original Andhra Pradesh roots. "When we get patients from Andhra Pradesh, I talk to them in Telugu only to have them say that they do not understand Tamil, that is the extent to which our Telugu has changed from its original version," he said.

Lakshmi Naidu, a sanitary worker says that though he has lived in Tamil Nadu for many years, he learnt to speak his mother tongue as it was the language spoken at home. He adds that he knows other people in this job who also speak Telugu even without any connection with Andhra Pradesh today.

But some festivals are still celebrated with a lot of fervour. The Reddiars have their Ugadi and the Arya Vysyas participate in their form of celebration for the New Year. The 'Varalakshmi nombu' is something that the women celebrate without fail with all its religious zeal. "I invite my neighbours for the prayers, where we make our own idol of the goddess as the local non Brahmins do not celebrate it," said L Kala.

People from this community enjoy spicy foods as per their genetic set up. "I would give anything for a good spicy Hydrabadi biryani and always have a green chilli with my lunch," says Kumar, a Telugu speaker. It is very difficult to differentiate these people from the local Tamils and they have performed wonders for the growth and development of Madurai. ... 243964.cms
 #6773  by Madurai Gilli
 September 7th, 2012, 5:42 pm
The Kannadigas find it easy to merge with the mainstream here than their distant motherland.

Think Karnataka and the first thing that comes to mind is the chain of Udupi hotels and restaurants identified by their simple vegetarian fare with a hint of sweetness in everything they prepare (there is a dash of jaggery in all dishes, except rasam ).

Madurai had quite a few Udupi hotels run by the hotelier-community, who migrated in the 1940s from undivided South Kanara district in Karnataka.

According to N. Ramakrishna Rao, whose father R. Narasimha Rao, started the Sri Jaya Vilas Coffee Hotel in 1942 on Chinnakadai Street, though there were many Udupi hotels in Madurai, the Udupi Boarding & Lodging on West Masi Street was the biggest till it closed shop in the 80s.

“Till Pandyan Hotel came up, all the visiting VIPs – from MGR and Sivaji to Kamaraj — used to stay at this hotel, started in 1939 and closed in 1975.” Other popular Udupi hotels were ‘Central’ Udupi (1932-67)) and ‘Chinthamani’ Udupi (1929-73), denoting the cinema halls adjacent to them, and Dhanalakshmi Hotel (1947-91) on Kamarajar Salai.

The Chinnakadai hotel is the only relic of a glorious past.

The city is home to about 250 families from Karnataka, excluding a 10,000-strong Kannada speaking Devangar Chettiars from the Hampi region..:cheers: While all of them speak Kannada, their mother tongue differs.

While majority speak Tulu (Aishwarya Rai and Shilpa Shetty’s mother tongue), some speak Konkani.

V. Mohan of Thiagarajar College of Engineering opines that initially Harvey Mill (Madura Coats), TVS group of companies etc., attracted the Kannadigas to Madurai. Next came the hoteliers followed by bank employees since major banks such as Canara, Vijaya, Syndicate, Corporation and Karnataka banks were started by Mangaloreans (Konkani-speaking Gouda Saraswaths) only. Later on, professionals such as doctors and engineers came and settled down in Madurai.

N. Srikumar of K. Pudur says, “ Despite Madurai becoming our natural home, our marriages are conducted in our native place to make it convenient for our relatives there to attend the ceremony. Also, temples of our family deities are there.”

In order to keep the bond with their motherland strong, the kannadigas get together for Ugadi, Vishu and other festivals under the Karnataka Sangha-Madurai banner. Some times they bring the ‘Yakshagnana’ troupe or else screen Kannada classic movies. But such entertainment highlights have become rare over the years owing to dwindling audience.

Dishes :

Says Harikrishna Bhat, Head, Department of Kannada Studies at Madurai Kamaraj University..:cheers:, “Our people merge with the mainstream wherever they are, identifying more with the local culture than the distant motherland.” Mr. Bhat, from Puthur in Kasaragod district, who has written a book, ‘Madurai nenappugalu’ (memories of Madurai) is now translating Tirukkural from Kannada to tulu.”

Some like K. Krishna Joisa, who is always on the lookout for new Kannadigas to rope them into the association in his capacity as its secretary, rue that Karnataka delicacies like Maddur vada, cherooti and Mangalore holige (boli) are not available in Madurai.

Besides the Kanara people, there are some wholesale coconut merchants (Basappa Mandi in Mudakku Salai and another opposite Cinepriya theatre complex) from Hubli-Dharwad region and few professionals from the Mysore-Bangalore belt.

Industrialist B.T. Banghera and renowned architect Y. R. Ramnath also hail from Karnataka.

Their association has bought a land near university for constructing a building with all facilties.

Dr. J. Vasanthkumar Bhat from Mangalore, who is the president of Gouda Saraswath Community of about 100 families in Madurai, says: “Initially our people came here to make pappads. My father J. Vasudeva Bhat was a Superintendent of Police for Madurai North in the 60s. We originally belong to Kashmir from where we migrated to Bengal and thence to Mangalore. Nowadays, many of our people here do not even speak Konkani.” Some of these strict vegetarians eat fish due to the Bengal interlude in their journey down south.

Shyamala Bhat, who hails from Kumble, says she misses ‘southakai’ (similar to cucumber but bigger) and kovakkai but is all praise for cotton saris here.

By and large, Kannadigas here are a contented lot.
Source : ... 790400.htm
 #6774  by Madurai Gilli
 September 7th, 2012, 5:45 pm
^^ Sorry for mentioning very low numbers for Kannadians in my Picture..I thought only Udippians are settled in Madurai. But it seems, Madurai is home for 10,000+ Kannadigas from various regions like Hubli, Kaasargode, Mangalore, Bangalore, Mysore and Kumble..Very new to me..Anyone knew it already ?
 #6839  by Sankar
 September 18th, 2012, 6:40 am
MADURAI: Visit some of the homes of the Kannadigas in Madurai and you will be pleasantly surprised to see a few people silently browsing through magazines or looking for a particular book on the shelves. "These are home libraries, that cater to the needs of our people, who live here and miss reading books in Kannada," says N Krishna Joisa, who has a large collection of books in Kannada.

There are about 300 families who are members of the Karnataka Sangha in Madurai which was founded in 1960. However, only a handful of these families are permanent residents of Madurai while the others continue to shuttle between Karnataka and Madurai. N Ramakrishna Rao, the vice president of the association belongs to this category of Kannadigas, "My father Narasimma Rao started the Udupi hotel in Chinnakadai street in Madurai, in 1942. These hotels were famous for their hospitality and were patronized by many famous persons," he says.

Professor V Mohan, Thiagarajar College of Engineering is the president of this sangha, which is now in the process of constructing its own building in Rajampadi near the Madurai Kamaraj University, which is expected to be completed in another six months. Former Karnataka chief minister B S Yeddyurappa donated Rs 10 lakhs for this cause.

The Kannada Department at the Madurai Kamaraj University, is among one of the best departments in the country for this language with students from many parts of Karnataka, including Mysore. Once constructed, the association building will also provide accommodation for students in the rooms on the top floor in order to ensure that they do not miss their homely atmosphere while continuing their higher studies in Kannada.

Many Kannadigas who live in the temple city, have converted rooms in their homes into libraries of Kannada for the benefit of those who miss keeping up with the happenings of their homeland. However, the books will be transported to the new association building once inaugurated. Shipla Kumar, a young house wife says that she used to ask her parents to mail the local magazines, every week after she came to Madurai two years ago. The home libraries had then proved to be a big boon for her.

People from this community celebrate festivals like Ugadi, Basava Jayanthi, Sarvajna Jayanthi and Kanakadasa Purandaradasa Jayanthi in a big way with a lot of fervour. "Our sambars and sweetmeats are very much a part of our daily diet, though we also relish the spicier Tamil Nadu sambar," says Krishnammal, a housewife. She travels with her family to Karnataka at least twice a year and most of their weddings are held in their native villages even if the bride or groom live in Madurai.

As Kannada is spoken at home, young people from the community can converse in their native language but the written form is slowly becoming lost to them. Now, the association is conducting regular classes in Kannada at the university department for their benefit.

Most people from this community are employed in banks and private companies, but there also persons like industrialist B T Bangera and educationist M S Iyengar, who have contributed to Madurai's growth in many ways. ... 443089.cms
 #7889  by Madurai Gilli
 December 5th, 2012, 6:30 pm
Gadholia blacksmiths, from Chittorgarh, have an interesting history dating back to the Mughal period

Clanging metal echoes at the bus stand at Oomatchikulam. It is not the usual kothu parotta sound that Madurai is famous for. It is the slightly harder noise of hot iron being hammered. A group of 20-odd blacksmiths from western India have descended on the city in search of a livelihood. With unkempt hair and grimy faces, they may look alarming. But their bright smiles and the glittering odhnis, dupattas and ghagras they wear are hard to miss.

Distinct from the locals, they have added a new colour to the place. The roadside is where they live, sleep, eat and work. Amidst the honking of auto rickshaws and buses and the chattering crowds, the sounds of Mewari and Hindi stand out. “We are here for a few days. We don’t have any home. We are nomads and the whole world is our home,” says Malkhan, the oldest man in the clan. “Bade sapne dekhne me koi galti nahi,” he chuckles. (There is nothing wrong in dreaming big.) The weariness of long travels from the interiors of Rajasthan to the temple town shows in his eyes and the deep wrinkles on his face. But, according to Malkhan, their journey started hundreds of years ago, when the Chittorgarh fort was captured by the Mughals.

Strange tradition

“We belong to the Gadholia lohar (blacksmith) clan and our history dates back to the Mughal period,” Malkhan says with pride. Though nomadic, when asked where they are from, the Gadholias identify Chittorgarh as their hometown. But the strange tradition is that they are not supposed to settle in Chittorgarh.

The Gadholias weren’t exiled by the king but by their own self-imposed vow. Malkhan says, “Our ancestors had taken a vow of not returning to our hometown. And it is believed that one who breaks the vow will be punished by Goddess Kali, the guardian deity of the Chittorgarh fort.”

Jughni, a blacksmith’s wife, explains the history behind the vow. Chittorgarh was often attacked by Mughals and the Rajputs would recapture the fort each time, she says. “But, when Emperor Akbar captured it for the third time, the Gadholias were upset and took a vow that until the Rajputs came back to power, they won’t return to the city,” she says. “Unfortunately, that never happened and till now we continue to be nomads, abiding by the vow we took.”

The clan never stays in a place more than a week. “If there is good business, we may stay for a fortnight, otherwise, we keep moving every three days,” says Atmaram. “This is our first time in Madurai and the market for sickles seems good, as we had heard.”

The locals come to these blacksmiths for iron tools. Many feel that they are priced lower than in the city’s own Arasaradi and Sammattipuram iron market. “An aruval at Arasaradi would cost Rs.400 and the same sized sickle can be bought here for Rs.200. The iron quality is also better,” says Asairaj. “They sell one kilogram of iron for Rs.100, which is half the price in the Madurai iron market.”

The Gadholias sell sickles, butcher knives, hammers and axes of different sizes and weights. But they are unfamiliar with the South Indian aruval and are more known for the talwars. “The kasappu kathis they make are much better than the locally available varieties,” says Siva, a butcher at Oomatchikulam.

Traditionally, the Gadholia men heat the iron while women and children beat it into shape. Poverty and illiteracy seem to be common among these blacksmiths. The business doesn’t yield much wealth, yet they take great pride in their work. “We don’t own any lands and agriculture is not our work. Earlier, we used to make farming tools for the peasants,” says Jughni. “This work is our life and we start doing it at a young age.” As Twelve-year-old Bheeru had never held a pen in his hand but ever since he was six, he has been beating red-hot iron with heavy hammers. Bheeru says, “Even the kids in our clan make big talwars as if they were toys. Our ancestors made the weapons for the Rajput Rajas.” ... 166804.ece
 #10744  by M.Mohamed Rafi
 December 23rd, 2013, 11:26 am
Do please post more about the diverse communities , ethnic groups and the multicultural accomodative spirit of our Madurai. this post was very nice, informative , interesting and quite enjoyable. it will have a positive impact on the demography and business culture of of our city, besides wiping away cliches and mis-information about Madurai. It is pertinent to mention here that Madurai is one of the safest,sociable, tolerant cities that has never witnessed any religious clashes, ever. Long live the Madurai and its glorious people.
 #10913  by Jayvjay
 January 17th, 2014, 12:28 pm
Away from Gujarat and at home in Madurai

Prime Minister Morarji Desai interacting with members of Sree Madura Gujarati Samaj during his visit to Madurai in 1978.
The Hindu Prime Minister Morarji Desai interacting with members of Sree Madura Gujarati Samaj during his visit to Madurai in 1978.

Arrival of the core Gujarati group is traced to 1830

Madurai has always assimilated different cultures, without compromising on its own, by welcoming with open arms whoever came to settle down here. For the Greeks, Romans, Nayaks and Sultans of the past, this has been a home away from home. The Patels, Chouhans and Desais, who reached the historic city on call of duty in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, are proud to call themselves ‘Maduraikkarans,’ without having to look in the north-westerly direction.

As a community, Gujaratis form a major chunk of the Madurai population. The arrival of the core Gujarati group is traced to 1830 when Kehta Shivji Rathore was drafted on contract by the British government to work on the railway lines that were planned to branch out to Rameswaram and Bodinaickanur from Madurai.

“At that time, Gujaratis were involved in the construction of railway lines, bridges and stations,” recalls Hina Chouhan, Shivji’s great grand daughter. “Then, there was no tendering system. The British considered the Gujaratis as very honest people and so entrusted with them the task of building up a vital infrastructure,” says C. R. Patel, who landed in Madurai following his father who arrived in 1945.

Impressed with Madurai, Kehta Shivji started his own company that produced shirts, after completing the railway work. His home on West Perumal Maistry Street played host to pilgrims from Gujarat to Rameswaram, while on transit.

The second wave of arrivals started in the first quarter of the 20th century when people from all regions of Gujarat descended on Madurai to do textile business, with the giant Madura Coats as the centre of attraction. In the 1930s and 40s, many families followed G. P. Sangoye, who had started his textile business in the name, ‘Truthful Company.’

“Entrepreneurship is in the blood of Gujaratis and so the settlers here have diversified from textiles into various other fields,” says Ashwin Desai, an IT entrepreneur. Those who had migrated to Madurai from Gujarat organised themselves into various groups as ‘Gujarat Library’ and ‘Navajeevan Samaj.’ The Shree Madura Gujarati Samaj came into existence in 1963 by merging all Gujarati associations. The samaj is celebrating its golden jubilee from Friday.

“We celebrate all festivals from Deepavali to Deepavali, along with Republic Day and Independence Day. Our objective is to make the people realise that they are not alone when they are away from Gujarat,” says Mr. Patel. Members of the samaj have been lending a helping hand in times of natural disasters, like the rare flooding of the Vaigai. They are also involved in philanthropic work in a big way.

Today, there are about 120 families from Gujarat, who are members of the samaj. “We do not want to go back to Gujarat. People here are good. Madurai is a safe place to live and we are happy. We have lived here and we will die here,” says Mr. Patel. The Gujarati families have identified so much with Madurai that the latest daughter-in-law of the first settler’s family is from Tuticorin.

Ithu than namma Madurai .... :)
 #11105  by M.Mohamed Rafi
 February 25th, 2014, 10:56 am
To project and to propagate the cosmopolitanism and multi-cultural aspects of our Madurai, it is suggested that a thread containing the photographs and articles about the places of worship of native/ ethnic minorities in our city, like the Jain Temples at Bullion Bazaar, Gomathipuram,Iyer Bungalow, the Memon Mosques at South Masi ST, Villapuram and so forth may be posted , please.Sure it would be very interesting .This would also, definitely go a long way in understanding the prevailing religious and communal harmony and amity among communities in Our city Madurai.