Chettiars In Singapore Essay

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This section focuses on the impacts economic influence and cultural development of Chettiars in Singapore. Chettiars established their money-lending businesses in the area of Chulia Street and Market Street in the 19th century, and they are credited for financing the agriculture, mining, and shipping industries in Singapore (Koh, 2013). The Chettiars stimulated growth of trade and commercial industry in Singapore particularly in the area near the Singapore River. The Chettiars direct influence is primarily historical due to the replacement of moneylenders with banks throughout the 20th century. However, the Chettiars aided the development of a market-based society through their businesses. In Southeast Asia, the Chettiars financed farmers…show more content…
The Chettiars selected this location because it is near the banks of the Singapore River, which was a thoroughfare for trade activities close to the trading houses and government offices (Koh, 2013; Nataraj, 2014). The area likely had a high demand for Indian businesses for the Chettiar community to patronize, and it was also a convenient spot where merchants and potential entrepreneurs could both get a loan and reach the trading offices easily. Together, these led to a strong growth of businesses in the area. According to Subbiah Lakshmanan, whose grandfather was a Chettiar money-lender, there was a cluster of Indian businesses (such as sari shops, spice grinder, eating places, and other business houses) and kittingis (where the Chettiars lived and work) in the area near Chulia and Market street after the arrival of the Chettiars (Nataraj, 2014). He described the area as the first like an ‘Little India’ due to the strong community there (Nataraj, 2014). Since this area is no longer contains a distinctive Indian community after the downfall of the Chettiars in the 20th century and the demolition of the kittingis (Schrader and Pavadarayan, 1994), the economic success of Chulia and Market streets is well-correlated with the rise and decline of the…show more content…
From a cultural standpoint, the Chettiars (most of whom were Hindu Tamils) brought over religious festivals like Thaipusam to Singapore and developed a new social organization/life in Singapore (Koh, 2013). Thaipusam is an annual religious festival celebrated by the Tamils originally in India. In Singapore, the Thaipusam celebration includes a procession where kavadi-carriers and devotees walk through Little India to the Chettiar Temple (Kuah, 1998). The Chettiar Temple itself was established (and still owned by) Chettiars, and the annual festival/procession are still hosted and organized by Chettiars (as of September 2014) (Schrader and Pavadarayan, 1994). However worship at the temple and participation in the festival are not restricted solely to Chettiars. The temple is open to all hindu devotees (Schrader and Pavadarayan, 1994), and the Thaipusam festival in Singapore is extremely popular among the Indian community as crowds of Indians gather together, and Little India becomes a sacred place (Kuah, 1998). Others outside of the Indian community also attend some of the celebrations like concerts and dramas to catch a glimpse of Indian cultural heritage (Kuah, 1998). Thaipusam is an example of a cultural/religious gathering that the Chettiar community initially organized in Singapore and continues to do so

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