Lakshmi Vilas built in 1922 by the Valliappa family speaks of the family’s traditional values and that of the Nagarathar community. Here are the speeches of the esteemed personalities at the centenary celebration of Lakshmi Vilas, Pulankurichi, Sivagangai district, Tamil Nadu.
Mr. Alagu Alagappan is a friend of the Valliappa family, and he described the origin, migration, traditional architecture, temple, business, and values of the Nattukottai Nagarathar, also called Nattukottai Chettiar.
Originated in Kanchipuram near Chennai, they moved to Kaveri Poompattinam (a coastal area), where they were affected by floods, which compelled them to build their homes at higher platforms (one aspect of the Chettinad homes) to prevent flood waters to enter the home. Later they moved to Chettinad (areas in Sivagangai and a small portion in Pudukottai).
Speaking of the Nagarathar community, he said, “numerically small but potentially very powerful” and “small in size but big in stature.”
Mr. C. Valliappa extended a warm welcome to the guests: MP, District Collector, dignitaries from America, friends, and relatives. In his speech, Mr. C. Valliappa narrated the brave stories of his grandfather, the historical importance of Pulankurichi, and the initiative taken by his grandfather to renovate the Lord Vinayaga temple in Pillayarpatti.
Mr. Chocko Valliappa started his presentation with quotes from Arthashastra and Thirukkural at the centenary celebration. Chettiars, the community, make it a point to give in charity from what they earn in their business, "make a profit but give back."
Detailing the traditional value of Lakshmi Vilas, he said, "this house has seen weddings of five generations." The original plaster of the home is made of eggshells and calcium, which has never been painted again.
They had astonishingly grand and solid family and community involvement in their marriages, which is narrated by him as “weddings that happened used to be for 14 days. You might ask what used to be done in 14 days. During these 14 days, we would have friends and families, who are investors today; in the olden days they used to be called syndicates – so, we used to call them Pangali. Until today, generations of Pangalis were invited to discuss business strategies during these weddings. Each day would be for a particular event and the 7 the day would be for discussing the strategies.”
Chocko also briefed out the family’s connection with Gandhi, their ancestor’s entrepreneurship, establishment and development of businesses and educational institutions, and service to society.
Mr. P. Madhusudhan Reddy expressed his awe for the Valliappa family in maintaining the 100-year-old traditional home. He shared his appreciation for the Nagarathar community for serving and empowering society and passing on the tradition and values to the next generation.
He also spoke of the improvement of the students of the Sivagangai district at the centenary celebration of Lakshmi Vilas and urged The Sona Group to assist in improving the employment opportunities for the Sivagangai students.
Mr. Mano Thangaraj expressed his delight in witnessing the traditional values, saying, “I’m very happy they are following rich traditions that their ancestors have established; their values that they have inherited from their forefathers they are still practicing. It’s a very good thing to appreciate.”
Continuing his speech, the Minster noted the potential of Tamil Nadu students and the creation of rural employment to prevent urbanization.
Mr. Patrick O’Malley spoke about his friendship with Mr. Chocko Valliappa, MD of The Sona Group, at the centenary celebration of Lakshmi Vilas. He quotes the words from Chocko when they met the first time, “if you support me, we’ll globalize success; it will make lives better.” He further reminisced how the duo’s collaboration caused them to close a health services client despite stiff competition.
Mr. Subramanyam Chettiar welcomed the gathering, then introduced his friend Mr. Alagu Alagappan, who went on to address the guests.