Malacca Chitty Tamil Community in Malaysia

Topic started by Ananthan (@ on Mon Aug 12 03:36:11 .
All times in EST +10:30 for IST.

Malaysia is a multiracial society. Malaysian Indians, majority being Tamils who migrated to Malaysia between 1900-1950, are about 2 million out of the 22 million people in Malaysia. In addition there about 50,000 Sri Lankan or Jaffna Tamils who also migrated to Malaysia around the same time.

However the unique Tamil community is the Malacca Chitty. The Malacca Chitty (not Chettiars)community in the state of Malacca (or Melaka) in Malaysia who now number around 2,000 people, is unique in that they migrated from the Tamail nadu region around 1420-1500 AD, when the Malacca Kingdom flourished.

The Malacca Kingdom was founded around 1400 by Parameswara, a hindu prince from Sumatra (in present day Indoinesia). The Malacca kingdom subsequently became a muslim sultanate with the son of Parameswara becoming a Muslim with the introduction of Islam by Indian Muslim and Arabic merchants.

Malacca was then was visisted by numerous traders from India and China, with some Tamil hindu merchants establishing a settlement and also entering into the administration of the Malacca Sultanate.

Later Malacca fell into the Portuguse, Dutch, British, Japanese, British again and finally gaining independence within Malaysia in 1957.

During these period this small Tamil community known locally as the Malacca Chitty survived by adapting itself in adopting the local Malay language, dressing and food. They retained their Tamil names and the hindu practices that they brought with them in the 15 Century. The oldest functioning hindu temple in Malaysia built in 1700s belongs to the Melaka Chittys. With the fall of Malacca sultanate the Malacca Chittys became farmers.

I am sure there are many unique Tamil communities in other parts of the world who have adapted and blended themselves and are peacefully coexisting with the majority of the people. There is a big Tamil community in Medan, Sumatra Indonesia having Tamil names but msot of them speak Indonesian Malay language. There is also a small Tamil community in the Phuket Island in Southern Thailand. Interestingly there is now a famous fire walking ceremony at a temple in Phuket - I wonder if it was started by the Tamils there.

I would like Tamils to take more interest of such unique communities, visit them as tourist, support them, study them because they may give alot of insight how to survive in the future. I know anthropology does not pay well but that is the profession, Tamils are lacking in order to study these unique people.


  Tell your friend about this topic

Want to post a response?

Post a response:



Please Reload to see your response

Back to the Forum