Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Sri Bahari Road(琼花路)

Sri Bahari Road(琼花路)

Sri Bahri Road or Jalan Sri Bahari, is between Penang Road and Transfer Road. It is named after the Sri Kunj Bihari Temple established on Penang Rd by Bihari members of the Bengali Regiment of the East India Company, whose endowment included houses on this road. Why the English named it "Bahari" instead of " Bihari", it may be due to the corrupted pronunciation of "Bihari" by English colonist, and Bihari become Bahari. Sri is a Sanskrit word, with a primary meaning of radiance, or diffusing light. Sri Bahari means radiant Bihari people, but if the temple is named Sri Kunj Bihari, it must have religion significance. Sri Bahari Road is a road linking Transfer Road to Penang Road.

The Biharis (Bihari: बिहारी, بِہاری Bihārī) are an ethnic group originating from the state of Bihar Eastern UP and surrounding areas in India with a history going back three millennia. Biharis speak Bihari languages such as Magahi, Bhojpuri, Maithili, amongst other local dialects, as well as Hindi or Urdu. In addition, the ethnic group shows some admixture with the early Munda inhabitants of the region as well as with other Indo-Aryan and to a lesser extent, Iranic peoples who migrated to the region. During partition of India in 1947, many Biharis of the Islamic faith migrated to East Bengal (later East Pakistan and subsequently Bangladesh). Bihari people are also well represented in Pakistan's (formerly West Pakistan) Muhajir population as a result of the partition of India, as well as the recent repatriation of some Bihari refugees from Bangladesh to Pakistan. Hinduism is the majority religion of the Bihari people although a large Muslim and a smaller Christian minority exists among the ethnic group.

In 1947, at the time of Partition, many Muslim Biharis moved to what was then East Bengal adjacent to their Bihar province in eastern India. In 1971, when war broke out between West Pakistan and East Pakistan (or Bangladesh), the Biharis sided with the military of West Pakistan.

However, when East Pakistan became the independent state of Bangladesh in December 1971, the Biharis were left behind as the Pakistani army and civilians evacuated and the Bihari population in Bangladesh found themselves unwelcome in both countries. Pakistan feared a mass influx of Biharis could destabilize a fragile and culturally mixed population, and Bangladeshis scorned the Biharis for having supported and sided with the West during the war.

With little or no legal negotiation about offering the Biharis Pakistani citizenship or safe conduit back home to their native Bihar in India, the Biharis (called stranded Pakistanis by politically biased Bangladeshi politicians) have remained stateless for 33 years. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has not addressed the plight of the Biharis. An estimated 600,000 Biharis live in 66 camps in 13 regions across Bangladesh, and an equal number have acquired Bangladeshi citizenship. In 1990, some Biharis were allowed to immigrate to Pakistan.

The Chinese called it kheng-hoa-lơ(琼花路), do not know why the road is named after flower. The road is within Buffer heritage zone of Georgetown heritage city.

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The area from Sri Bahari Road right up to the Sri Kunj Bihari Temple was a settlement of North Indians from the Indian states of Bihar and Bengal. It intersects with the Malabari settlement of South Indians at the Dato Koyah Road junction.

Sri Bahari Road still have some pre-war colonial shop houses that need to be protected, even at the buffer zone, before it is too late.

Sri Bahari Road is popular among the local Penangites for the coffee shop at its junction with Penang Road serving excellent Char Koay Teow , Loh Bak, and chicken rice. The corner coffee shop is Kheng Pin, always packed. The coffee shop is just opposite Oriental Hotel.

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