Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The North Malaysia Malayali Samajam

The North Malaysia Malayali Samajam was formed in 1951 to cater for the social and cultural needs of Malayalis in the states of Penang, Kedah and Perlis.

Malayalis are those who hail from the ethno- linguistic area of Malabar coast in South India now called Kerala, then comprising of Travancore, Cochin and Malabar with a language of their own called Malayalam. Malayalis have their own traditions and customs and celebrate festivals such as Onam.

In the year 1952, the Samajam bought a piece of land and a small attap building at 95-E, Jalan Sungei Pinang, Penang , for a price of RM14,750 . This amount was advanced free of interest by some of our members. The advances though late were refunded to them in instalments.

The present premises at 213, Jalan Mesjid Negeri, Penang , was purchased on 2nd February, 1964 at a price of RM52,000 for which we had to dispose our old premises at 95-E, Sungei Pinang Road for RM 48,000. The balance required was raised through donations from our members.

In 1965, the Association moved to its new premises at 213, Jalan Mesjid Negeri, Penang. Extensive renovations were carried out to the building to cater for the social, cultural and sports activities. During the next five years, efforts were initiated to raise funds to meet the loans incurred in renovating the building.

Activities such as Malayalam classes , Cultural practices, Badminton, Volleyball and Indoor Games were started at the Samajam in 1970.

In 1972, the Samajam formed a Youth Section and the Youth Section initiated the following:

1. Survey on Malayali Community in Penang
2.Malayalam Cultural Shows
3.Talks on "Role of Minorities in Nation Building"
4.Regional Conferences with the theme "Malayali Youth and Their Challenges"
5.Dialogue Sessions with various Malayali organisations and
6.Joint activities with other (non_Malayali) organisations

The year 1973 saw our Malayali Youths emerge as Champions in the Penang State Inter-Club Quiz Competition. The same year through the efforts of the Youth Section, a Samajam Educational and Welfare Fund was established.

In 1976, as part of the fund raising programme for the All Malaysia Malayali Foundation or more affectionately called AMMA Foundation, the Samajam organised musical performances by leading play-back singers Mr. K.J. Jesudass and Miss Sujatha from Kerala. The venture not only grossed a sizeable collection for the Foundation but more importantly , it brought together the community very much closer and a sense of dedication and an awareness of the plight and needs of the poorer members of the community prevailed.

A national forum on "Malayalis and their Challenges" was organised in 1980. In 1981, the Samajam hosted the 6th Annual Delegates Conference of All Malaysia Malayali Association (AMMA) at Penang. An Inter-Samajam Badminton Tournament and a Malayalam Cultural Show ("Kala Virunnu") were also organised in conjunction with the Conference.

In 1982, at a dinner in honour of Tan Sri B.C. Sehkar and the late Dr. PP. Narayanan, donations for AMMA Foundation were collected. The year 1983 witnessed the First Malayali Youth Convention at Penang. In 1984, a briefing on Maika Holdings was given by YB Dato K. Pathmanaban and investments totaling RM128,000 from members were collected. The Samajam sponsored the First All Malaysia Malayali (AMMA) Convention in Penang in the year 1986.

A resolution was passed 1987 to purchase a building for our members in Kedah. Accordingly in March 1988, premises No. 74-A, Taman Bunga Raya at Sungei Petani was purchased for a price of RM 60,500. The following year renovations costing about RM40,000 were carried out to the Samajam premises in Penang. Perimeter walls costing RM15,000 were constructed for both Samajam buildings in 1989.

The 1990 Annual General Meeting of the Samajam resolved to construct a twelve room hostel as a wing of the Samajam premises in Penang. Plans were submitted to the authorities in 1991 and approved in 1992. The hostel was constructed and occupied in 1993.

The Samajam published a book "Aspects of Malayalee Culture " in 1994 and this book was circulated throughout Malaysia through our sister Samajams in other states.

A resolution to extend the hostel to accommodate an additional six rooms was passed at the Annual General Meeting held in 1995. The extension works commenced in 1996 after the approval of the amended plans and was completed in late 1996. The hostel building was officially declared open by YB Dato Seri Dr S Samy Vellu.

Apart from all these, during the past 50 years the Samajam has carried out its regular sports, youth, ladies, cultural, social and educational activities without fail. The regular activities include Malayalam classes, Onam games competitions, Ladies cooking classes, Vishu, Easter, Christmas and New Year get-togethes. Visits to charitable homes and hospital and presentation of scholarships and educational awards. The celebartions of National Day and Onam is an annual affair when all Malayalees, irrespective of their social or religious differences participate. Also during all these years the Samajam has never failed anyone who has sought its help and is still continuing with its charity work as far as its funds permit.

The North Malaysia Malayali Samajam is an affiliate of the All Malaysia Malayali Association (AMMA) - an umbrella association of all Malayali associations in Malaysia. The Samajam is also a member of the Penang Indian Cultural Coordinating Committee and Penang Amateur Athletics Association. Our Samajam was also an affiliated member of the Ghandi Memorial Hall in Sg Patani. Many of our members are holding principle posts in these organisations.

The year 2001 was very significant in the annals of NMMS. Our Samajan was 50 years old and the Golden Jubilee celebrations was officially launched with pomp and fan fare amidst members and local dignitaries, at our Penang premises on 22nd April 2001. The Guest of Honour YAB Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon, the Chief Minister of Penang, clad in jippa, launched the year long celebration by lighting the traditional nilavillaku. The Chief Minister also donated RM15,000-00 for the celebrations. The Management Committee also approved RM25,000-00 to celebrate the Golden Jubilee in different towns to give an opportunity to all members to participate and to enjoy.

The North Malaysia Malayali Samajam is stepping into the next decade determined to provide beter services to the members in particular and to the society in general.

(source: http://www.nmms.org.my/message.htm)

Suggested websites/articles/books

1. Their association websites, http://www.nmms.org.my/message.htm
2. From Malabaris to Malaysian - The Untold Story of Malayalees in Penang by Professor Suresh Narayanan; http://1malabari.net/general/2003/12/from-malabaris-to-malaysiansthe-untold-story-of-malayalees-in-penang/
3. Persatuan Malabari Malaysia, http://www.pmm.org.my/
4. Who is a Malabari?; Malaysia Malayalee Association http://www.amma.org.my/whoisamalabari.html
5. Kerala; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kerala
6. Malabar Coast, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malabar_coast

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