Monday, January 27, 2014

The Chetty Needs help

The Indian Chetti of Malacca is unique. It is fast losing her people. The Village was said to be establish in 1414 and is given a heritage status sadly nothing is done to save this community. Unlike the Babas ans Nonyas and the Portuguese in melaka measure are made to preserve them but sadly for the Chettis no concerted were made. i suppose to write about them a long time ago but sadly lack of funds hinders me. Now the problem is acute thus let's preserve what can be glean before it is too late. In the history book during my time. A book written by joginder Singh Jessy caught my eyes especially the fact that the first Bendahara or Chief Minister during the Portuguese era in Melaka was a Chetti! It fascinates me up to now. So here are some news and articles that i need to share


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Total population
c. 2,000
Regions with significant populations
Malacca · Singapore
Malay · English · Tamil
Related ethnic groups
Tamil Malaysians · Indian Singaporeans
The Chitty are a distinctive group of Tamil people found mainly in Malacca and Singapore, who are also known as the Indian Peranakans. As of today[when?], their population stands at 2,000.


Sri Poyatha temple, Malacca
Like the Peranakans, the Chitty speak a Malay patois, which is mixed with many Tamil loan words. Many of the Chitty are unable to communicate in Tamil fluently.


Historical records stated that the Tamil traders from Panai in Tamil Nadu settled down in Malacca during the sovereignty of the Sultanate of Malacca. Like the Peranakans, they later settled down and freely intermingled with the local Malays and Chinese settlers. However, with the fall of the Malacca Sultanate after 1511, the Chitty eventually lost touch with their native land.
Under the administration of the Portuguese, Dutch and British colonizers, the Chitty eventually began simplifying their culture and customs by adopting local customs. This can be evidenced in the architecture of the Sri Poyatha Moorthi Temple, which was built by Thaivanayagam Chitty, the leader of the Chitty people, in 1781 after the Dutch colonial government gave him a plot of land.
The traditional Chitty settlement is located at Kampung Tujuh along Jalan Gajah Berang, which is also inhabited by a small number of Chinese and Malays as well. Many of the Chitty have since found jobs in Singapore and other parts of Malaysia.
The ethnic identity of the Chitty is nearly lost. As many of them are assimilating into the mainstream Indian, Chinese, and Malay ethnic communities culturally, this small but distinct group of people that has survived for centuries is now on the brink of extinction.


The Chitty are a mixed people. Although they ethnically consider themselves to be Tamil, who have a Dravidian appearance and dark complexion, the Chitty appear to have varying degrees of Southeast Asian and Dravidian looks.
This resulted from the fact that the first Tamil settlers took in local wives, since they did not bring along any of their own women with them. Over time, the Chitty gathered physical features that were less Dravidian, and more Malay-looking.


The Chitty community are Hindu, worshipping in their three temples. Gods such as Ganesh and Shiva are worshipped in full gaiety. Hints of Taoist and Islamic influences are also evident in their religious rituals. As staunch believers of the Hindu faith, the Malaccan Chitty community still upholds their religious ceremonies. They observe Deepavali, Ponggal, the Hindu New Year, Navratri and other traditional Hindu festivals that are celebrated by Hindu groups in Malaysia. However, the Chitty do not participate in Thaipusam in at a grand level like most Hindu groups. During the month of May they have a similar festival to Thaipusam in their local temple called Mengamay. One celebration that is unique to the Chitty community is the Parchu festival. It is celebrated twice a year with Parchu Ponggal (Bohgi) observed the day before Ponggal in January and Parchu Buah-buahan during the fruit season between June and July.


Culturally, the Chitty have largely assimilated into the Malay culture with some Chinese, Dutch and Portuguese influences, although certain elements of Indian culture do remain. This is especially true in the case of marriages, where offerings of fruits and burning of incense are used. In the case of food, Malay spices, ingredients and the way of cooking have largely supplanted the Indian style.
Chinese cultural influence is also evident, especially in the case of ancestral worship. Religious objects used for conducting rituals were also used by the Chinese. The Chitty are also influenced by the Chinese to some extent in their ceramics works of art.
Simplification of Tamil architecture among the Chitty is also present. Distinct from the Tamil, who have a complex Dravidian Temple Architecture in the Pallava style, that displays beautifully carved out sculptures of the Hindu gods in many rows, the Chitty temple tend to only have one row of these, or a picture of one single god in each of the three rows, as evidenced in the Sri Poyatha Moorthi Temple, built by Thaivanayagam Chitty in 1781.

Dress and lifestyle

Most of the Chitty have adopted the Malay costume. In the case of men, a comfortable sarong and Malay shirt may be worn, although a songkok may also be worn, especially for a Muslim. Women, on the other hand, wear a similar costume that are similar to the Peranakan Nonya.
Alongside their Chinese and Malay neighbors, the Chitty live in Kampong houses. Pictures of Hindu gods and Indian names can be seen just outside their houses, as their descendants tend to adopt Indian, rather than Malay surnames.
A typical Chitty home is distinctly marked by mango leaves arranged in a row, dangling from above the front door. Chitty temples are also adorned this way.

Kampung Chetti begs to be saved

K Pragalath | December 30, 2013
Kampung Chetti residents want heritage and culture departments at state and federal levels to stop current development project.
PETALING JAYA: State and federal government agencies have been called on to save heritage site, Kampung Chetti in Malacca and stop a development project that threatens to destroy the heritage of the community.
T Sithambaram Pillay, who heads the action committee opposing the development project said in a press statement .
“We want the Tourism and Culture Ministry, Melaka Museum Corporation (Perzim) and the National Heritage Department to intervene and stop this project which is located at the site known as Lot 93,” he said.
Malacca Chief Minister Idris Haron has also been asked to make his stand clear in relation to the heritage village of the Malacca Chettis.
“We are begging the Malacca government to end the project. We also want Idris to make his stand to save our village,” said T Sithambaram Pillay in a press statement.
On Dec 17, there were reports that the state government had approved construction of two condominiums with 22 floors each, a 12 floor hotel and a six floor parking lot at the heritage site.
The project was stopped by the former Malacca Chief Minister Ali Rustam last year but has been revived and given the green light by the current state administration after the 13th general election in May.
Since the news broke various groups such as Hindraf and Deputy Minister in Prime Minister’s Department P Waythamoorthy have voiced their objections over the development project.
Waythamoorthy has questioned the silence of Heritage Commissioners on the matter.
Kampung Chetti in Malacca has existed since 1414. Both the state and federal government have given the village national heritage status. In addition, the village is also Unesco World Heritage site.

Jangan hapuskan Kampung Chetti

Uthaya Sankar SB | December 17, 2013
Kampung Chetti sudah wujud sejak tahun 1414 – iaitu jauh sebelum kedatangan Portugis.
Pada 15 Disember 2013, Kumpulan Sasterawan Kavyan (Kavyan) mengadakan Kunjungan Perpaduan Kavyan ke Kampung Chetti di Gajah Berang, Melaka.
Kunjungan ini adalah sebagai susulan kepada beberapa kunjungan sebelum ini yang bertujuan menghayati warisan kaum Chetti yang amat unik dan seharusnya menjadi kebanggaan Malaysia.
Walau bagaimanapun, pada kali ini, Kavyan dikejutkan dengan berita projek pembangunan yang sudah dimulakan di kawasan Lot 93 yang terletak di tengah-tengah perkampungan ini.
Kampung Chetti sudah wujud sejak tahun 1414 – iaitu jauh sebelum kedatangan Portugis. Malah, kampung ini serta para penduduknya berjaya mempertahankan hak, identiti dan maruah walaupun negara pernah dijajah Belanda, British dan Jepun.
Malangnya, kini pembinaan dua blok kondominium 22 tingkat, hotel 12 tingkat dan tempat letak kereta 6 ringkat sudah diluluskan Kerajaan Negeri Melaka di atas tanah Lot 93.
Menjelang Pilihan Raya Umum Ke-13 (Mei 2013), Ketua Menteri waktu itu, Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam dilaporkan mengarahkan projek pembinaan itu dihentikan. Akan tetapi, kini projek itu diteruskan walaupun mendapat bantahan penduduk Kampung Chetti.
Pihak Kavyan diberikan taklimat lengkap mengenai perkara ini oleh Yang DiPertua dan AJK Persatuan Kebajikan dan Kebudayaan Kaum Chetti Melaka pada 15 Disember 2013.
Kavyan yang menjalankan aktiviti bahasa, sastera, seni dan budaya di seluruh negara sejak diasaskan pada Ogos 1999 merakamkan rasa kecewa dan melahirkan bantahan terhadap sebarang projek yang boleh menjejaskan kedudukan Kampung Chetti yang sudah diwartakan sebagai Perkampungan Warisan.
Menurut laporan media, Pemuda MIC segera bangkit “berjuang” apabila candi Lembah Bujang di Kedah dirobohkan baru-baru ini. Dalam kes Kampung Chetti pula, Presiden dan Timbalan Presiden MIC sudah ditemui wakil penduduk tetapi tiada sebarang reaksi positif.
Sekiranya perlu, Kavyan mencadangkan wakil Pertubuhan Pelajaran, Sains dan kebudayaan Bangsa-bangsa Bersatu (Unesco) dipanggil untuk membuat tinjauan serta mengemukakan saranan dan laporan kepada Majlis Bandaraya Melaka Bersejarah (MBMB) dan Ketua Menteri, Datuk Wira Ir Idris Harun.
Tambahan pula, Kampung Chetti mendapat pengiktirafan sebagai Perkampungan Warisan dan tentu sahaja ada enekmen yang menghalang pembinaan bangunan tinggi di sebelahnya.
Tinjauan Kavyan mendapati bahawa beberapa kuil lama di Kampung Chetti yang dibina menggunakan batu kapur (limestone) berdepan masalah besar berikutan projek pembinaan ini.
Misalnya, Kuil Sri Anggala Parameswari yang digazetkan sebagai Warisan Negara terletak sekitar 300 meter dari tapak pembinaan; Kuil Sri Kailasanar (sekitar 400 meter) dan Kuil Muthu Mariamman (100 meter).
Harapan dan gesaan Kavyan adalah supaya cadangan pembinaan di Lot 93 dihentikan segera. Rundingan patut diadakan dengan Persatuan Kebajikan dan Kebudayaan Kaum Chetti Melaka mengenai cadangan tanah Lot 93 digazetkan sebagai sebahagian daripada Kampung Chetti.
Sambutan “Ponggal” (pesta menuai) secara besar-besaran bakal berlangsung di Kampung Chetti pada pertengahan Januari 2014. Semoga akan ada berita baik daripada pihak berkuasa sebelum tarikh itu.
Biarlah insiden Lembah Bujang menjadi pengajaran kepada kita supaya lebih bertanggungjawab dalam memelihara dan memulihara warisan negara. Sesal dahulu pendapatan, sesal kemudian tiada gunanya.

Malaysia may lose world heritage status

K Pragalath | December 31, 2013
Malaysia as a whole will lose its Unesco heritage status if Kampung Chetti in Malacca is developed.
PETALING JAYA: Malaysia risks losing its world heritage status by allowing a development project to take place at the Unesco heritage site in Kampung Chetti, Malacca, said an Indian writers group.
Kavyan Writers Group president Uthaya Sankar said Unesco’s world heritage status was awarded to Malaysia as a whole and not to individual sites in Penang or Malacca.
“Hence the development project will result in Malaysia losing its world heritage status.
“Construction of buildings more than four storeys are not allowed at heritage sites by Unesco,” said Uthaya Sankar SB in a press statement.
On Dec 17, there were reports that the Malacca state government had approved construction of two 22-storey condominium blocks, a 12-storey hotel and six of levels parking space on a plot of land in Kampung Chetti.
The project was stopped by the former Malacca Chief Minister Ali Rustam last year but has been revived and given the green light by the current state administration after the 13th general election in May.
Deputy Minister in Prime Minister’s Department P Waythamoorthy has objected against the project.
Kampung Chetti has existed since 1414 and both the state and federal governments have given the village, national heritage status. In addition, the village is also a Unesco World Heritage site.
Uthaya said Malaysia would be portrayed negatively in the international community if it lost the world heritage status and that would affect tourism in the Visit Malaysia Year 2014 campaign.
He had also called upon the DAP-led Penang government to state its stand since the island’s world heritage status would be affected.
“Unesco has the right to rescind the world heritage status enjoyed by Georgetown if Kampung Chetti in Malacca is developed,” he said, adding that Penang is maintaining its heritage sites.
He also called upon the federal and state governments to issue a written guarantee to protect the national cultural site
Published: Wednesday January 1, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Updated: Wednesday January 1, 2014 MYT 7:55:49 AM

Malacca CM steps in to solve Chitty village row

by r.s.n. murali
Piling works being carried out at the high-rise condominium project site at Kampung Chitty. Piling works being carried out at the high-rise condominium project site at Kampung Chitty.

MALACCA: Chief Minister Datuk Seri Idris Haron has stepped into the controversy at Kampung Chitty in Gajah Berang here, ordering a probe into the approval of a high-rise condominium project at what is arguably the oldest settlement in the historical city.
According to a state government source, Idris wanted a thorough investigation to identify those responsible for the approval of the project in 2009.
The project is within the buffer zone of an area recognised by Unesco as a heritage site.
The village was gazetted as a heritage village in July 2002.
The project, involving two 22-storey condominium blocks, a 12-storey hotel annex and a six-storey car park, was believed to have been shelved but was later found to have been approved.
The developer is said to have resumed work six months ago.
The source said Idris was upset as the settlement of “Indian Perana­kans” was part of the city’s heritage.
It was learnt that the state government might have to fork out about RM30mil in compensation if it re-acquires the land.
The source revealed that Idris had told his officers to look into solving the issue immediately as it was causing a major “headache” to the administration.
“My boss wants to re-examine the documents pertaining to the project and see how it can be resolved without affecting the heritage site.
“He is serious about resolving the matter but he has to manage it carefully as the approval was granted before he was appointed as Chief Minister,” the source said.
Kampung Chitty’s Welfare and Cultural Association’ president K. Supramania slammed the state government for reneging on its promise made during a Deepavali open house in 2012.
He said former Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam had told the community the project would not go on.
“Despite feeling disappointed, we still have trust in the state government to resolve the issue,” he said.
Supramania said the settlement preceded other ethnic enclaves in the city, adding that the state government should not neglect the welfare of one of the earliest communities in Malacca.
“There are many ways for the state government to acquire the land, including getting funds allocated under the National Heritage Act 2005, if it really wants to save the village from development.
He said the approval of the project should be re-evaluated based on the principles of Operational Guidelines for World Heritage by Unesco, ICCROM (International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property) and Icomos (International Council on Monuments and Sites).
He said three Hindu temples, dating back to more than 300 years, were at risk if piling work begins.
“Our only hope now is that the Chief Minister will intervene and stop the project,” he added.

Along The Watchtower

Published: Wednesday January 1, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Updated: Wednesday January 1, 2014 MYT 1:18:41 PM

Chitty's last refuge under threat

by m. veera pandiyan
Swift action is needed to protect and conserve the sole bastion of one of the country’s smallest communities.
HAPPY New Year! Will it be a better one? Malaysians polled by the World Independent Network of Market Research (WiN) and Gallup International seem to think so.
About 41% of respondents felt that 2014 would be better than last year while 28% reckoned it would be the same.
On the negative side, 29% expected it to be worse while 2% didn’t know or chose not to answer.
The WiN/Gallup poll, published on Monday in collaboration with the BBC’s Today programme, surveyed the hopes and fears of people from 65 countries around the world.
Apparently, about half were more upbeat about 2014 than they were for 2013.
I can’t speak for the rest of the world but the results of the tiny sample of 300 Malaysians aren’t quite convincing, especially when the Powers That Be seem to be constantly promising one thing and doing quite another.
Our policy-makers and implementers seem to be fixed in a cycle of repeating the same insensitive blunders over and over again.
The furore over a massive condominium project in the ancestral village of the Malacca Chittys – one of the smallest minorities in the country – is the newest example.
For those who are not familiar with the community, it is the Indian version of the Baba-Nyonya or Peranakan Chinese.
They should not be confused with the Chettiars, the clan of merchants and money-lenders who hail from the Chettinad region of Tamil Nadu, India.
The Chittys are descendants of traders who came to Malacca in the early 1400s from the Coromandel Coast.
Coramandel is derived from Chola Mandalam or Land of the Chola, a Tamil dynasty which lasted from the 9th century to 1279.
Their ancestors were among the pioneers of the spice trade who married local women.
They spoke Malay, adopted both Malay and Chinese Peranakan cultures, cuisines and garments but remained staunch Hindus.
It has been speculated that the place where they settled, Gajah Berang (angry elephant) was called “Kanja Pidam”, a corruption of Kanjipuram, a city famous for its silk where some of the Chittys originated but historical records show that there was indeed an enraged jumbo there once.
The community played a big role in the early development of Malacca and after its fall to the Portuguese.
The most prominent of its leaders was Naina Chatu or Naina Chitty, a trader credited with minting the city’s first Portuguese coins.
The community lived in Campon Chelim (Kampung Keling), in Upeh (present day Tranquerah).
Its influence, however, waned during the Dutch era when they moved out from the richer areas to various places including Bachang and Balai Panjang, before eventually settling down in Kampung Tujuh to become padi farmers.
They built several historical places of worship, including the Poyatha Vinayagar Moorthi Temple in Jalan Tukang Emas (Goldsmith Street) in 1781, which still stands as the oldest functioning Hindu temple in the country.
Around the village they built the Muthu Mariamman Temple (1822), the Kailasanathar Temple or Sivan Kovil (1887), the Kaliamman Kovil (1804) and the Angalamman Para­meswari Temple (1888).
They also built several smaller shrines amid the padi fields, including the Linggadariamman Kovil, Amman Kovil, Dharma Rajah Kovil, Kathaiamman Kovil and Iyenar Kovil.
Today, there are only about 30 Chitty families in the village.
Ten years ago, a census showed that there were only 325 members of the community left in Malacca.
The condominium project – which is just metres away from the village houses and temples – was first proposed seven years ago by a Singaporean developer.
It was originally meant to be a 33-storey condominium and adjoining 12-storey hotel with a six-storey car park on a 2.25ha plot next to the village. The height of the condominium blocks was later revised to 22 storeys.
The then mayor of the Malacca Historic City said it was on private land and located outside the World Heritage Site zones although the village was already gazetted as National Heritage site in 2002.
When Malacca and Penang were inscribed as Unesco World Heritage sites in 2008, about 63ha of the historical city were listed under the core heritage zone and about 175ha in the buffer zone.
In meeting Unesco’s guidelines, the Department of Town and Coun­try Planning commissioned a Special Area Plan to study areas covering the core and buffer zones.
In 2009, the developer was told to submit a more suitable development plan for the area.
Three years later, the then Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rus­tam declared that the project had been shelved.
In February last year, he directed the Melaka Tengah District Office to acquire the land and convert it for public use.
But in spite of all these developments, work has resumed and the sales of the units – priced between RM259,400 to RM373,295 – are being marketed aggressively.
The reasons remain a mystery but it is appalling that a project involving three high-rise, high-density towers in a vulnerable heritage site was even considered by the council.
Surely, the authorities must know that the village and surrounding historical temples are the last refuge of the Chittys who have been squeezed out of their ancestral homes over the years because of their poor economic standing.
But it’s still not too late for both the state and federal governments to act swiftly to protect and conserve the unique minority’s only bastion of culture, heritage and faith.
The right thing for the Malacca Government to do is to cancel the project and for National Heritage Commissioner Prof Datuk Siti Zuraina Abdul Majid to declare it a heritage site.
Will it be done? It’s a brand new year and hope springs eternal.

  • Associate Editor M. Veera Pandi­yan likes this quote by Confucius: “Study the past, if you would divine the future.”
  • The views expressed are entirely the writer's own.
Piling works being carried out at the high-rise condominium project site at Kampung Chitty.

Sebelum Chetti masuk muzium

Uthaya Sankar SB | December 29, 2013
Solidariti Kampung Chetti diadakan untuk memberikan “ilmu” dan “kuasa” kepada kaum minoriti yang berdepan masalah besar.
Salah satu pengisian “Solidariti Kampung Chetti” pada 29 Disember 2013 adalah membincangkan cara-cara menjadikan sambutan Ponggal (pesta menuai) pada pertengahan Januari 2014 sebagai medan mengumpulkan seramai mungkin warga prihatin di perkarangan Kuil Sri Muthu Mariamman.
Langkah itu bagi menyatukan suara orang ramai – pelbagai kaum, agama, etnik, ideologi dan latar – sama-sama membantah projek pembinaan dua blok kondominium 22 tingkat, sebuah hotel 12 tingkat dan tempat letak kereta 6 tingkat di atas tanah “Lot 93” yang terletak di tengah-tengah perkampungan warisan berkenaan.
Asal-usul keturunan Chetti adalah daripada pedagang (lelaki) dari Kanchipuram, India yang datang ke Melaka seawal abad kedua dan berkahwin dengan wanita Melayu tempatan.
Mengikut peredaran zaman – serta akibat penjajahan Portugis, Belanda, British dan Jepun – kaum Chetti, khususnya di Kampung Chetti, bertukar daripada pedagang yang mewah kepada petani miskin.
Atas sebab itulah juga sambutan Ponggal amat penting, signifikan dan diberikan keutamaan sejak zaman-berzaman oleh kaum Chetti. Malah, sebagaimana di Tamil Nadu, India, sambutan Ponggal adalah jauh lebih diutamakan berbanding perayaan Deepavali.
Saya berpeluang mengunjungi Kampung Chetti di Jalan Gajah Berang, Melaka buat pertama kali bersama-sama penulis buku “Peranakan Indians of Singapore and Melaka” (2006), Samuel S Dhoraisingam.
Pada Januari 2007 pula, rombongan Kumpulan Sasterawan Kavyan (Kavyan) pergi khusus untuk menyaksikan serta menulis artikel mengenai keunikan kaum Chetti dan sambutan Ponggal bagi majalah Dewan Budaya dan Dewan Bahasa terbitan Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (DBP).
Beberapa hari sebelum Ponggal, masyarakat Chetti akan menziarah kubur nenek-moyang, khususnya di Jelutong dan Batu Berendam. Misalnya, pada hari Solidariti Kampung Chetti (29 Disember 2013), beberapa keluarga pergi ke kubur.
Selepas membersihkan kubur, mereka mengadakan upacara sembahyang. Walau bagaimanapun, makanan tidak dipersembahkan di kubur berkenaan. Hanya bunga rampai ditaburkan dan amalan ini jelas menunjukkan pengaruh budaya Melayu.
Sambutan Ponggal menyatukan masyarakat

Sehari sebelum Ponggal adalah sambutan Boghi. Biasanya dalam tradisi Chetti, upacara sembahyang khas diadakan bagi arwah nenek-moyang. Masyarakat Chetti sentiasa akur pada hakikat bahawa mereka perlu berterima kasih kepada generasi terdahulu yang banyak berkorban bagi memastikan kesinambungan hidup mereka.
Upacara sembahyang yang diadakan ini dinamakan “parchu”. Segala masakan tradisional Chetti disediakan untuk dihidangkan kepada arwah nenek-moyang di atas daun pisang. Selepas upacara sembahyang, juadah berkenaan akan dinikmati oleh anggota keluarga berkenaan sahaja.
Pesta Ponggal disambut secara besar-besaran oleh penduduk Kampung Chetti. Inilah masanya anak-anak muda yang merantau jauh pulang ke kampung untuk meraikan pesta menuai bersama-sama keluarga, rakan-rakan dan jiran-tetangga selama empat hari.
Hari pertama adalah Boghi, hari kedua adalah Thai Ponggal, hari ketiga digelar Maatu Ponggal manakala hari keempat merupakan Kanni Ponggal. Setiap hari mempunyai keistimewaan tersendiri dan disambut penuh meriah oleh kaum Chetti.
Upacara memasak nasi manis pada pesta Ponggal tidak dibuat di rumah. Sebaliknya, seluruh penduduk Kampung Chetti berkumpul di Kuil Sri Muthu Mariamman yang juga dikenali dengan nama Kuil Datuk Chachar. Ketua kampung yang juga pemegang amanah komuniti Chetti akan mengetuai upacara memasak nasi manis (ponggal).
Selepas itu, amalan kunjung-mengunjung diadakan untuk mengucapkan “Selamat Hari Ponggal” kepada jiran-tetangga. Amalan ini juga membezakan masyarakat Chetti daripada kaum India secara umumnya.
Malam persembahan turut diadakan untuk memperagakan pakaian tradisional, tarian dan muzik yang unik. Antaranya adalah dondang sayang dan ronggeng yang menunjukkan pengaruh Melayu dan Baba Nyonya dalam budaya Chetti.
Persembahan juga dianggap tidak lengkap tanpa tarian bagi lagu “Chinna Maamiyea”. Walaupun rata-rata kaum Chetti yang saya temui tidak memahami maksud lirik lagu itu – yang sebenarnya berasal dari tradisi Sri Lanka – mereka tetap menganggapnya sebagai “milik” mereka.
Masuk Hindu sebelum kahwini orang Chetti

Umum mengetahui bahawa masyarakat Chetti berpegang teguh pada agama Hindu. Sekiranya berlaku perkahwinan campur dengan masyarakat luar, maka individu berkenaan perlu memeluk agama Hindu dan mengamalkan budaya Chetti.
Semasa Kunjungan Perpaduan Kavyan (15 Disember 2013), saya berpeluang bertemu Teo Ha Lee (gambar), seorang wanita berketurunan Cina. Sebelum berkahwin dengan K Supramania Pillay, beliau menjalani upacara khas untuk mempelajari ajaran agama Hindu dan seterusnya memeluk agama Hindu. Sejak itu, beliau dikenali sebagai Valli.
Malah, kini Valli menjadi antara individu yang terlibat dalam memulihara dan memelihara warisan Chetti menerusi tarian, nyanyian, pantun, masakan dan pakaian tradisional kaum itu.
Memandangkan komuniti Chetti adalah minoriti, perkahwinan dengan individu dari luar tidak dapat dielakkan. Apa pun, generasi tua sentiasa mengingatkan anak-anak muda bahawa pasangan hidup mereka perlu bersedia untuk “masuk Hindu” serta mengamalkan adat-istiadat masyarakat Chetti.
Sementara golongan wanita Chetti mengenakan pakaian baju kebaya seperti wanita Melayu dan Nyonya, golongan lelaki pula boleh dikenali melalui pakaian baju Melayu serta kain sarung yang dipakai. Mereka turut memakai kopiah yang dipanggil talapa.
Bagi lelaki Chetti, mereka turut mengamalkan adat menindik telinga pada usia muda. Amalan ini sebenarnya terdapat dalam budaya India secara umumnya tetapi sudah kurang diamalkan. Sebaliknya, masyarakat Chetti memberikan keutamaan terhadap budaya tindik telinga bagi anak-anak lelaki.
Masyarakat Chetti ternyata mampu mengekalkan identiti yang unik dan tersendiri sejak zaman dahulu. Tahap kesedaran dan semangat untuk meneruskan tradisi nenek-moyong cukup menebal dalam kalangan masyarakat ini tanpa mengira usia.
Kewujudan sebuah muzium khas di Kampung Chetti juga secara tidak langsung mampu menguatkan semangat masyarakat ini untuk memelihara dan memulihara jati diri. Malah, hasil kunjungan, saya mendapati bahawa setiap rumah di perkampungan warisan ini umpama muzium hidup (live museum).
Beri “kuasa” dan “ilmu” untuk pertahan tradisi

Sejak hampir sedekad lalu, terdapat usaha mengeratkan hubungan antara masyarakat Chetti di Melaka dan Singapura. Malah, penduduk Kampung Chetti Melaka diundang membuat persembahan dondang sayang dan ronggeng, serta demonstrasi majlis perkahwinan sempena pelancaran buku “Peranakan Indians of Singapore and Melaka” di Singapura pada 2006.
Namun begitu, saya perhatikan bahawa sejak belakangan ini, hubungan itu agak renggang. Wujud perbezaan kedudukan ekonomi dan sosial yang agak ketara antara kaum Chetti di Melaka (Malaysia) dan Singapura.
Untuk makluman, tentu sahaja masyarakat Chetti akan kecil hati jika masih ada pihak yang tidak dapat membezakan antara kaum Chetti dan kelompok Cheetiar (ceti; peminjam wang). Percayalah, kekeliruan itu masih berlaku.
Kesilapan yang dilakukan dalam mengenal pasti kedua-dua kelompok ini menunjukkan betapa masyarakat pelbagai kaum di Malaysia – termasuk politikus, ilmuan dan pemimpin masyarakat – mengambil sikap lewa terhadap kewujudan masyarakat Chetti di Malaysia.
Masyarakat Chetti telah melalui perjalanan hidup yang cukup panjang sambil terus mengekalkan identiti tersendiri yang lain daripada yang lain. Keunikan ini dapat diperhatikan dalam segala aspek kehidupan seharian mereka: bahasa, pakaian, makanan, adat-istiadat, kepercayaan, sistem keluarga, perkahwinan, gelaran, upacara agama, seni bina, muzik, permainan dan seumpamanya.
Segala keunikan masyarakat Chetti bukan sahaja perlu dipelihara dan diteruskan; malah perlu didokumentasikan secara penuh sistematik. Peluang yang lebih banyak perlu dibuka kepada masyarakat Chetti untuk tampil mempersembahkan seni dan budaya mereka kepada umum.
Semasa Solidariti Kampung Chetti, Setiausaha Kavyan, Kughan Nadarajah membimbing penduduk tentang cara-cara mengumpul bahan dan menulis makalah budaya. Jawatankuasa Khas Kavyan, Shahrul Nizam Abd Hamid dan Perzeus James pula mengendalikan aktiviti merakamkan foto dan video untuk mendokumentasikan keunikan perkampungan warisan ini.
Saya pula membimbing penduduk cara-cara menulis berita, surat pembaca, memorandum, mengadakan sidang media, membuat wawancara, berkomunikasi dengan media dan sebagainya.
Semua ini dilakukan bagi memberikan “ilmu” dan “kuasa” kepada kaum Chetti – khususnya generasi muda – bangkit berjuang secara kendiri, profesional dan terancang dalam usaha murni mempertahankan hak dan warisan.
Jika tidak, pembangunan dan kerakusan yang sedang berlaku di “Lot 93” mungkin akan menyebabkan kaum Chetti dan segala warisan kebudayaan mereka hanya tinggal sebagai barangan antik berhabuk di suatu penjuru sebuah muzium uzur yang tidak dikunjungi orang.
Orang ramai boleh melayari untuk mendapatkan maklumat berkaitan Solidariti Kampung Chetti anjuran Kavyan dengan kerjasama Persatuan Kebajikan dan Kebudayaan Kaum Chetti Melaka.


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