Photo: Kampung Chetti, where a small community of Hindu Peranakans fights for cultural survival.

Kampung Chetti

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Kampung Chetti is home to a small tight-knit community of Hindu Peranakans. Like the more visible Straits Chinese, this is another of Melaka’s mixed heritage sub-groups: offspring of Indian Tamil traders and Malay locals, known as the Chetti (also Chitty).

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Their arrival is believed to date around the 13th or 14th century, making this group older than the Chinese Peranakan community. Like their counterparts in other of Melaka’s ethnically blended groups, the Chetti adopted Malay language and culture, but clung to their religious beliefs creating a unique hybrid culture. Many can’t speak Tamil, but their Malay creole is peppered with Tamil words, they dress in Malay clothes, the women in sarong and kabaya and their cuisine mixes Indian curries and Malay flavours too.

One of the few remaining traditional houses. Photo taken in or around Kampung Chetti, Melaka, Malaysia by Sally Arnold.

One of the few remaining traditional houses. Photo: Sally Arnold

Although the group began as traders, living near Kampung Kling—where Kampung Kling Mosque remains today—they found it increasingly difficult to compete with the Indian Muslim merchants. Instead they turned to agriculture, and the community moved to the then-rural location where they now remain. But the farmlands have disappeared and these days the Chitty tend to work in lower to middle class jobs. Life is hard and many have moved away and assimilated into more mainstream Indian or Malay communities; this small distinct group faces cultural extinction.

Kampung Chetti is not much more than one street with a handful of traditional wooden houses, but like Kampung Morten in the middle of town and the traditional fishing village of Kampung Portugis, the area has been protected by heritage status in the hope of preserving their ... Travelfish members only (Around 600 more words) ... please log in to read the rest of this story.


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Kampung Chetti
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