Chakyar (also; Cakyar, Chakkiar, Chakiar, etc.) is an intermediate priestly caste coming under the Ambalavasi community of Hindus in the Kerala state of India. The women in this caste are called Illotammas.
They occupy a position in the Hindu Temple in managing the affairs of the temple, though not the actual conduct of ceremonies. They are assigned with the holy temple ritualistic performance called Chakyar Koothu and Koodiyattam, which is the only surviving ancient Sanskrit theatre in India.
Chakyar is the main actor who performs the ritualistic Koothus and Koodiyattams inside the temple or in Koothambalams. Their women's- Illotammas are not allowed to participate in that. The women roles are done by ladies of Nambiar community called Nangyarammas. Nambiar plays the holy drum Mizhavu.
There were 18 Chakyar families throughout Kerala, but now their number is small. Mani family is one of them. The greatest Koodiyattam and Chakyar koothu exponent, Natyashastra scholar and world-renowned Guru, (late)Natyacharya Vidushakaratnam Padma Shri Mani Madhava Chakyar belonged to this family.