One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
In southern India and Sri Lanka: an ascetic mendicant or low-caste Hindu priest.
Early 18th century. From Tamil paṇṭāram storehouse, treasury, Saiva devotee, monk or friar (with implication of a holy person, or one in whom merit or treasure abides) from Prakrit bhaṇḍāra and its etymon Sanskrit bhaṇḍāgāra temple treasury.
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