Sri Lankan Chetties

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Sri Lankan Chetties
Total population
6,075 (2012 census)[1]
Regions with significant populations
 Western 5,427
 North Western 279
 Central 193
Christianity (mostly Roman Catholic and Anglican)
Related ethnic groups

Sri Lankan Chetties, also known as Colombo Chetties, Colombo Chittis or Colombo Hetties, are a formerly endogamous Sri Lankan social group or caste.


Colombo Chetty are mostly converted Roman Catholics or Anglicans and are found in niches throughout Sri Lankan society. Members trace their origins to traders of various ethnicities from South India. Most traders were Tamil speakers with a smattering of Malayalee or Telugu speakers. Colombo Chetties are descendants of traders who came to Sri Lanka during the Portuguese colonial era, post 1505. These traders converted to Catholicism and married women of various backgrounds including their own from India, Sri Lankan Tamil, Sinhalese, Portuguese Creoles and later Dutch, English and Eurasian Burghers.

Independent identity

The ethnic distinction between Burghers and Colombo Chetties is somewhat blurred. Until about 75 years ago most Chetties were educated in the Tamil language and considered a caste of Tamil people. However, Sri Lankan Chetty families married into elite Sinhalese, Burghers and Sri Lankan Tamil families.

Most early Sri Lankan Tamil pioneers in the colonial civil service, doctors, educators and religious leaders were of Sri Lankan Chetty origins. The author of the definitive modern history of the Tamil Jaffna Kingdom was a Sri Lankan Chetty.[citation needed] Today most Chetties speak English at home[citation needed] and are considered to be neither Sinhalese nor Tamil in the official census.

Current condition

Historical population
Year Pop. ±%
2001 10,800 —    
2011 6,075 −43.8%
Source:Department of Census
& Statistics
Data is based on
Sri Lankan Government Census.

As an elite and prosperous group they no longer strictly marry amongst themselves.[citation needed] In addition, migration to Australia, England, United States of America and Canada has tended to dilute their numbers.

Common last names

Some common Sri Lankan Chetty last names are Alles, Casiechetty, Corea, Chitty, Anandappa, Cassichetty, Candappa, Caderamen, Fernandopulle, Caderamanpulle, Sangaramoorthypulle, Christie-David, Savundranayagam, Mutukisna, Mickem Perumal, Pulanayagam Mutucumaru, Emanuelpulle, Rodrigopulle, Ramanaden, Tavarayan, Sylvesterpulle, Brittopulle and Massillamany. It should be noted that Pulle is a Sinhalese version of the common Tamil and Malayali title Pillai. Casiechetty is a clan name amongst Telugu or Tamil speaking Komati Setties of Andhra Pradesh origin in Tamil Nadu, South India.

See also

Prominent Colombo Chetties

  • George Edmund Chitty, Queens Counsel -(deceased)
  • Ajit Chitty, Chairman Eastern Brokers, Chairman Colombo Shipping
  • Chris Chitty, Founder SOHO Inc, USA, President Infrastructure Developers International, USA
  • Niranjan Cassichetty Sri Lankan tennis star
  • Simon Cassichetty - Sri Lankan author
  • Gritakumar E. Chitty -[1] [2] Registrar of International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (Retired)
  • Professor Naren Chitty AM, Foundation Chair in International Communication at Macquarie University and former diplomat
  • Chelvanayagam Caderamen secretary Mackinonz 1958, younger Brother of John Caderamen 1900 ( Trader Boat licence holder
  • Reggie Candappa Founder Chairman Grant McCann Erickson
  • Rohan Candappa Canadian Author
  • Rukmani Devi Actress and Singer
  • Roy Dias Former Cricket captain
  • Jeyaraj Fernandopulle - Sri Lankan Politician
  • Neela Marikkar Chairperson Grant McCann Erickson
  • Henry Francis Mutukisna Lawyer, Author, (1860) Published works on "Social Morality" and "Thesawalamai"(Barnes and Noble)
  • Christopher Ondaatje OC, CBE, Sri Lankan-Canadian businessman, philanthropist, adventurer, writer and Olympian.
  • Michael Ondaatje OC, Sri Lankan Canadian novelist and poet, perhaps best known for his Booker Prize winning novel adapted into an Academy-Award-winning film, The English Patient
  • Justice M.F.S. Pulle Q.C., Senior Justice, Supreme Court of Sri Lanka
  • Stanislaus Pulle Ph.D. King's College, University of London, Visiting Scholar, Yale Law School, Dean of Southern California Institute of Law at Santa Barbara, California
  • Austin I. Pulle LL.M. J.S.D., Harvard Law School, Professor, Singapore Management University.
  • Wing Commander Tyron D. S. Silvapulle, PWV, RWP. RWP of SLAF. Posthumously awarded the Parama Weera Vibhushanaya, the country's highest military award for gallantry. To date, he is the only recipient of the award from the Sri Lanka Air Force.[3]


  • Casiechitty S, The Castes, Customs, Manners and Literature of the Tamils. Colombo: Ceylon Printers, 1934.
  • Pulle Tissera Shirley - History of The Colombo Chetties - 2000
  • Thurston E, Castes and Tribes of Southern India
  1. ^ "A2 : Population by ethnic group according to districts, 2012". Census of Population & Housing, 2011. Department of Census & Statistics, Sri Lanka. 
  2. ^ "Population by ethnic group, census years" (PDF). Department of Census & Statistics, Sri Lanka. Retrieved 23 October 2012. 
  3. ^

External links

  • Dutch Burgher/Sri Lankan Chetty Combined Genealogy list
  • Sri Lankan Hydridity
  • Ondaatje Family history
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