As part of the promotion of Visit Malaysia Year 2013, I joined part of the entourage to explore Melaka on one fine Sunday. Thank you Gaya Travel for making this participation possible for me. It was very interesting as we were introduced to the Chittys – a small ethnic Indian community that exists in Melaka. We have learned a lot on Cina Peranakan (Baba & Nyonya), but most people are unaware of the existence of India Peranakan which is known as the Chittys.
Chitty means merchant in Tamil. The Chittys of Melaka were originally Tamil Hindu from the state known as Kalinga who traded in the Melaka port. Traders from India played an important role for the emergence of the Straits of Melaka as the main trading route between the West and East. Due to the change in the monsoon seasons, several long stops had to be made and some chose to settle down in Melaka as trades prosperred.
As a result, inter-marriages between the Hindu traders and the Malays, Chinese, Javanese and Bataks became more frequent creating a hybrid community which is known as the Chittys. The Chittys of Melaka, are uniquely assimilated with the dominant Malay’s socio-cultural in terms of languages, dress, food, and general social conduct. Despite the assimilation into the local culture, the Chittys remain as staunch Hindus. They also speak in Malay language and know little Tamil language. Only the younger generations speak Tamil languge.
Our visit to Muzium Chittys in Melaka was welcomed by K. Nadarajan whose welcoming speech was, “There are less than 1,000 Malaccan Chitty in Malaysia and I am proud to say that we are the only Hindu Peranakan, one of its own kind, in the world”. He briefed us on the history, cultures and assimilation of the Chittys.
Chittys of Melaka is NOT the same to the Chettiars community who are the money lenders. Although their roots can be traced down to India, they represent different community.
After providing us detailed explanations on the celebrations the Chittys celebrate as well as wedding practices, we were given time to wander around the museum.
Look at their cooking utensils.
In fact, their food are very similar albeit with some modifications. Their food ranges from ikan masak pindang, telur ikan sambal belimbing to haram jadda.
We were then brought to a walking tour around Kampung Budaya Chitty until we reached Mr. Nadarajan’s house which had been turned into a living gallery.
Cooking demonstration of Haram Jadda took place in Mr. Nadarajan’s house. While waiting, we relaxed ourselves in the huge living room with hanging pictures of Mr. Raja’s ancestors. We later learned that Mr Raja’s grandfather who was from India married her grandmother who was Cina Peranakan.
Haram Jadda in the making:-
Haram Jadda ni lauk yang dimakan dengan nasi. Macam cross taste antara asam pedas dan curry. Resipi rahsia katanya. Turun temurun. 😉
For more info on Chitty Living Gallery, you may visit :-Chitty Living Gallery 14, Kampung Budaya Chitty, Gajah Berang, 75200 Melaka Email : firstname.lastname@example.org Phone : 019-6677226 (K.Nadarajan Raja)