When Tamil Men Wear a Kilo of Gold

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Men are getting heavier in Tamil Nadu. They are increasingly showing as much affection for gold as women. Here, you can now see men wearing a kilo or more of gold in the form of chains and rings. Palaniyappa Chettiyar from Kancheepuram was seen at a gold shop in Pondi Bazaar, Chennai, a few days ago with such a quantity of gold on him. And he was busy selecting more gold rings. He purchased five rings to wear on the five digits of his left hand. He plans to stud them with Navaratna stones, to nullify the effects of ‘malefic planets’. An astrologer was ready for consultancy at the gold shop. Chettiyar already has four chains and a dozen rings (though he has only eight fingers and two thumbs).

No wonder then that last year, Dubai-based Joy Alukkas Group opened its mammoth gold shop in Chennai. The arrival of Alukkas, believed to be the largest of its kind in the world, has inspired the opening of many such shops that hope to satisfy the growing passion among Tamilians to own gold. Now T Nagar alone, Chennai’s business hub, has 11 mammoth gold shops. Not even the ever-increasing price of gold and the economic slowdown have affected the craze for gold among Tamilians.
In the marriage market, as always, Tamilians continue to attach importance to gold. That is why a woman in Usilampatty, near Madurai, created headlines recently by wearing a mangalsutra weighing 1 kg. Earlier, such a show of gold was limited only to wealthy zamindari families of Thanjavoor and Aruppukottai. But now all segments of Tamilians seem to be falling for the metal. “The trend is more prevalent among Raos and Chettiyars of Chennai than among rich men of other communities,’’ says Kenatt Jayasankar, who is researching the love for gold in this part of the country.