Maravar (Tamil: மறவர்) also "Maravan" (meaning "Grateful Warrior", "Punisher") are one of the oldest social groups to be mentioned by the Sangam Tamil literature. This indicates an association with the Tamil land which is at least 2,000 years old. The writers of the Sangam Age place them in rural settlements withdrawn fromcities. Maravars are the courageous breed and were involved in the major wars that Tamilnadu witnessed. The Kingdom of Ramnad was a Maravar kingdom and was ruled by the Setupati Kings. Ramanathapuram , Sivagangai and Thirunelveli are Maravars homeland and the entire Southern district is Maravar stronghold from ancient times.
Maravars are very brave, warlike, fierce, martial group and were involved in almost all the major battles and wars that ancient Tamilnadu witnessed. Maravars are found predominantly in the Southern districts of Tamilnadu viz., Madurai, Theni, Sivagangai, Ramanathapuram, Dindigul, Virudhunagar, Thirunelveli, Thoothukudi and Kanyakumari districts of Tamil Nadu. They ruled the vast land mass of Tamilnadu along with the Kallars. Both these tribes seems to have common origin. The Southern martial arts of Kalarippayattu, Silambam, Varma Kalai have been practiced primarily by Kallars, Maravars, Gounders and Nairs of erstwhile Travancore areas.
The Maravar have close relation with Kalabhars even though they Maravars are a non-aryan, non-Kalabhar group. They were ancient rulers of Pandya kingdom of coastal land and inland from the First Sangam Tamil age. Their leaders were given the title "Meenavan" and "Pandyan" respectively. Edgar Thurston (1855–1935) a British museologist and ethnographer identified the use of the boomerang by Kallars and Maravars of South India.
Large number of Maravars served in the armies of many princely states of Kerala. But during the 18th and 19th centuries, most of them were assimilated in to the Tamil Padam Nair subcaste of the Nair community. The Maravar regiment of the Travancore army was known as "Maravar Padai", which supplemented Nair Pattalam, the larger indigenous military unit. Tamil Padam Nair is recognized as a part of the Malayala Kshatriya social grouping. The Ramnad Zamindars are accorded the title Sethupathi (protector of the Sethu bridge) even to this day.