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Society & Social Issues > Lifestyle


Northern Nadars:

Prior to the northward migration of Shanars from Therilands to major settlements such as Sivakasi, Aruppukottai, Thirumangalam, Sathangudi, Palamedu and Palaympatti the bulk of the Shanar population was concentrated in the arid sandy regions or "Teris" of Tiruchendur in Tirunelveli district. The Shanar economy centered on the palmyra palm, then the only commercially viable crop in the region.

The untouchable cast of toddes tappers and agricultural labourers, originally called shanans, living in the Rammad districts of TamilNadu emerged as a prosperous mercantile community by the end. of the 19th century.

This prompted the Nadars based in Pattiveeranpatti who became very close to British and missionaries on doing coffee trade and owning estates wished to improve their status in the social hierarchy. They started calling themselves as the Sathiriya Nadars and at some places gave more importance to be called as Hindu Nadars with a motive to gain control over Hindu temples management. In 1910 the Nadars of Madurai with the support of Nadars of Porayar and Tanjore formed a 'Nadar Mahajan Sangam' started the process of sanskritiisation by strictly following upper caste customs especially be relinquish the trade on Palm Juice/Toddy/distilling to Arrack, personal refraining from alcoholic beverages, stopping the practices of animal sacrifices in temples, reducing the consumption of meat and other non vegetarian foods and other higher traditions which were crucial to higher status. They also raise Mahmai funds, for educational, religious and social activities.

In the 1889, when the Shanans agitated for entry into a temple in Sivakasi, the manager first closed the temple. That was considered a partial victory by Shanans and their opponents. Most opposed to Shanan mobility were the Maravans, their near neighbors in space and status. A "higher" caste, the Maravans could enter the temple at Sivakasi.

In the case of the Shanans, the ultimate outcome, for all practical purposes, was to establish a separate subcaste of Nadars, the elite group of Shanans. Almost a huge majority of ' Nadars ' are Shanars by caste, unless indeed they have abandoned caste, as some of them have left the Nadar traditions by becoming dedicated to Christianity.

When the Northen Nadars became the landlords (dry land lords!) they developed themselves financially, under the support from brithish traders. As the result, few numbers of sanars converted into Christianity for getting financial assistance.

Shanars became expert in well irrigation to cultivate tobacco and its by products beedy, surutu and cigarette (smoking sticks), mooku poodi (nose powder), and also in cultivating in chillies, cotton and strong presence in chillies and cotton trade.

Bsram B


I am a writer.

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