New Straits Times

Chitty community seeks Bumi status


MALACCA: The Chitty community in the state wants the government to accord them Bumiputera status owing to their 500-year existence.

Malacca Chitty Welfare and Culture Associatio­n chairman S. Ganesan Pillay said the initial request was made 30 years ago, but had been left unanswered.

“We made the request to the then Malacca chief minister Tan Sri Abdul Rahim Thamby Chik, when the Portuguese community was accorded Bumiputera status.

“However, we have not received any answer,” he said at a sadanggu (puberty) ceremony, which signifies that a girl has come of age, at Chitty Village in Gajah Berang here on Saturday.

He said the community should be given due recognitio­n as Bumiputera­s, owing to its historical roots that date back to Malacca’s founding by Parameswar­a.

“Our ancestors came from India to trade and inter-marry with the locals,” he said, urging the state or Federal Government to consider the request.

The Chitty community, also known as Malacca Straits-born Hindus or Indian Peranakans, speaks in a Malay patois, which is mixed with Tamil loan words.

The community has adopted Malay costumes, with the men wearing sarong and baju melayu, and the women wearing baju kebaya.

Associatio­n temple trustee K. Subramania­m Pillay said the sadanggu ritual included girls bathing in a flower-scented bath, being anointed with fragrant oils and donning colourful saris.

The girls are be barred from leaving the home to protect themselves from evil spirits.

“It is a unique tradition that is passed down from one generation to another. We still practise this century-old ritual.”

He said the ritual was a subtle message to eligible men in the village that they could now ask for the girls’ hand in marriage.

“All girls who reach puberty must perform this. If the family does not perform the ritual, they will still have to do it before their daughters get married.”

State Company Affairs, Human Resources and Non-Government­al Organisati­on Committee chairman Datuk M.S. Mahadevan said the ritual enabled better cultural appreciati­on of ethnic communitie­s among locals and foreign tourists.

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