Super trilingual Rap by Saint T.F.C. – Race, religion, colour, caste … he tags it all!
According to Yahoo News A Ganapathy died in hospital on April 18 2021 from injuries allegedly sustained while in police custody. He was arrested on Feb 24 in connection with investigations into his brother who is wanted by the police. He was released and admitted to Selayang Hospital on March 8th. Ganapathy was an Malaysian Indian trader who had earned his living selling cow’s milk. He leaves behind two children aged five and seven. This is the latest in an ongoing series of such incidents in Malaysia wherein Indians have died amidst allegations of police brutality and custodial killing.
Annie Dorol notes, in an article in Living that, while the government acknowledges that 284 detainees have died while in police custody between 2000 and 2016 (more current statistic being unavailable), news portal MalaysiaKini and Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) found that custodial deaths are under-reported, with only 1 in 4 deaths actually publicized. Further, ethnic Indians, who make up less than 7% of Malaysia’s population, account for almost a quarter (23%) of officially reported deaths in police custody. However, Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram), estimates that the actual figure could be as high as 55%.
There is a Malay expression that pits the threat of an ‘Indian’ against that of a ‘snake.’ In its most extreme form, it goes like this, “kalau bertemu ular dengan keling, bunuh keling dulu”. Sadly, it seems that more and more snakes are getting away ….
Although the Paraiyan community serves various important functions in Tamil village society, their name is associated with the lowest of the low in village life – the stray dog. I have personally heard the phrase ‘para naieh’ or ‘lowly stray dog’ used in my childhood. Edgar Thurston lists some Tamil proverbs that refer to Paraiyans —
(1) If a Paraiyan boils rice, will it not reach God? meaning God will notice all piety, even that of a lowly Paraiyan.
(2) When a Paraiya woman eats betel, her ten fingers will be daubed with lime, meaning the Paraiya woman is a slut.
(3) Though a Paraiya woman’s child be put to school, it will still say Ayyē, where Ayyē is vulgar for Aiyar or Sir.
(4) The palmyra palm has no shadow: the Paraiyan has no regard for seemliness, meaning the Paraiya has ne decorum.
(5) The gourd flower and the Paraiyan’s song have no savour, sadly the Paraiyans use this saying themsleves.
(6) Though seventy years of age, a Paraiyan will only do what he is compelled, perhaps infantilizing the Paraiyan.
(7) You may believe a Paraiyan, even in ten ways; you cannot believe a Brāhman, using the Parayian as the low mark.
(8) Is the sepoy who massacred a thousand horse now living in disgrace with the dogs of the parachēri? the Paraiyan settlement as a place of shame.
(9) Paraiyan’s talk is half-talk., perhaps a reference to Paraiya uncouthness.
(10) Like Paraiya and Brāhman, meaning a vast chasm of difference.
(11) Not even a Paraiyan will plough on a full moon day, perhaps a reference to the unclean or unholy aspect of the Paraiyan.
(12) Parachēri manure gives a better yield than any other manure, referring to the lowliness and the exploitation of the Paraiyan.
(13) The drum is beaten at weddings, and also at funerals, meaning a double-dealing unreliable character.
(14) The harvest of the Paraiya never comes home, meaning wastefulness or perhaps irresponsibility?
Before the Malaysian Indian community reacts to the pejorative connotations of the word Keling in Malay language and idiomatic expressions, we should look at our own prejudices and racism towards our own Tamil brothers and sisters.
Indians should be proud to be called Pariah! The fact that the term is offensive to Indians, both in India and in the diaspora, is really a symptom of our own horrendous internal racism or catseism. Pariah is the name of one of the oppressed Dalit communities in Tamil Nadu and, according to devendrakulam.org, the English language the use of the word ‘pariah’, meaning ‘social outcast’ was first recorded in 1613. Devendrakulam.org also notes that Paraiyan is mentioned in the Classical Tamil Sangam literature in the Puram text – “Without the following four – Thudian, Panan, Parayan, Kadamban the citizens’ Categorization is not complete” . These are all categories of music workers – Thudian is a player of the Thudi drum, Panan is a singer Singer, Parayan is a player of the Parai drum, and Kadamban is a player of the instrument named Kadambu which I think might be a katam (கடம்), the clay water pot vessel that is used as a drum (I stand to be corrected).
Devendrakulam.org offers a speculative narrative of the descent of the community as Bhramanism rose in South India through the centuries. Among the intriguing possibilities offered here are the idea that the Paraiyar were Buddhists who held out against the ascendant Bhramanism and that some of the Shudra casts of the contemporary South like my own Jaffna Vellala caste emerged from the Paraiyar in a process of assimilation. The Paraiyar community has, despite millennia of oppression within the entrenched Brahmanical order, produced significant figures in Indian social, political and cultural life including, M. C. Rajah, R. Srinivasan, Thol. Thirumavalavan, Illayaraja and Pa. Ranjith. I repeat, Indians (I include Jaffna Tamils) should be proud to be called Pariah!
This is a super exposition on the Keling word on A Daview Originals. Although there are errors, for example, according to the Malay Concordance Project, in the 1963 edition of Cherita Jenaka, orang Keling was changed to orang India and not, as the presenter claims, the other way around. Sorry lah it is in Tamil!
KELING dan MELAYU tak dapat dipisahkan,
Sejarah dan keturunannya satu kesinambungan.
Namun persuratan mulia Makkal tak perasan,
Kerana memaki namanya itu sudah berleluasan.
A Keling Lexicon A – J
A Keling Lexicon K – P
(Kayu) Sono Keling
Usada (Pengubatan) Keling
(Jika Perak) Kerani Keling
(Ikan) Kerapu Keling
Keris (Sempana) Keling
Ketuk Keling (Dulu)
(Darah) Keturunan Keling
Lorong (Samat) Keling
Keling Mabuk (Todi)
Keling Mabuk (Todi)
Pacar Keling (Surabaya)
(Corak) Parang Keling
Pisang (Abu) Keling
Pisang (Kelat) Keling
Pukul Keling (Dulu)