The Chetties are community domiciled in the Western, North Western and Southern Provinces. Today, there are around 150,000 Chetties in Sri Lanka with higher populations in the Western and North Western Provinces.

Chetties can be interpreted as Setti or Setthi in Pali, Hetti, Situ or Sitana in Sinhalese and Etti in Tamil. In his book, “Recollections of Ceylon” Selkirk states that Chetties comes from a nobility tribe named Tana Vaisyas. The ancestors of the Chetties came to Ceylon from the regions of Madura, Malabar, Nagapatam and Coromandel Coasts. According to the records in “Social History of Early Ceylon” by Prof. H. Ellawela the Chetties first came to Sri Lanka just after the arrival of Prince Vijaya and his followers. Not all Chetties arrived to Sri Lanka during the same period. Neither did they settle in the same locality.

In more recent records it is stated that the descendants of the Colombo Chetty community were a class of traders who identified themselves from pre-Portuguese times with commercial activities which eventually gave rise to their migration to Sri Lanka. The names of these Chetties are recorded in the Portuguese Thombu of Littoral of 1613-15 and in the Head, Land and School Thombus.

It is stated that the Chetties did not come as ruthless invaders who despoiled ancient architecture, nor as blood thirsty warriors with brutal and predatory instincts, but as men of peace and goodwill. They were noted to possess strong religious zeal and high sense of tradition that’s over three thousand year old and are common to both Aryans and Dravidians.