Monday, 26 January 2015

The Roti Canai Story

Roti Canai.
PICTURE CREDIT http://tomsaleebastravels.blogspot.com/
Roti Canai is a very popular dish in Malaysia. We Malaysians just love it. We even have various versions of Roti Canai. Roti Bom, Roti Pisang, Roti Sardin, Roti Telur, Roti Planta etc. 

It is generally assumed that Roti Canai got its name from Chennai, the capital of Tamil Nadu. 

So did Roti Canai really get its name from Chennai?


Parotta
PICTURE CREDIT http://www.yamu.lk/place/chennai/
Roti Canai is actually the modified Parotta. This dish is quite popular in South India. However, it is not a native South Indian dish. The dish is said to come from North India. Some claim that it was introduced by those from Middle East. 

Parotta may have entered India via North India or via Kerala. Because Kerala is exposed to the Arabian Sea and many traders from Middle East used to trade in Kerala.

There is also another theory that suggest that the main ingredient to make Parotta, the Maida flour, was introduced to South India only during WW2. Maida flour is a wheat flour and wheat was first cultivated in the Middle East.

I am not very sure about the authenticity of such theories but the Middle East-Kerala theory makes more sense. 

We are not sure who introduced Parotta in Malaya (now Malaysia). It could have been the Tamils or Malayalees, it could have also been others from India or even someone from the Middle East.

The Malays had several words for metal works. When working on the metal, the blacksmith will hammer the metal, flatten it, then cut into half, forge it, hammer it, flatten it, then cut into half....the process is repeated.

This process is known as canai in the Malay language.

Similarly, the cook who prepares the Roti Canai will smash the dough, spread it, fold it into half, smash it, spread it, fold it into half.....the dough takes a beating similar to the metal in a blacksmith's workshop.

This is how Parotta became Roti Canai in Malaysia. Instead of a layered piece of round bread like the Parotta, we made our Roti Canai appear folded. 

This is the story of Roti Canai and it has got nothing to do with Chennai because back in the olden days, Chennai was known as Madras. 

UPDATE1
(The origin of Madras or Chennai can be read at the links below)

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chennai/Chennai-is-a-Telugu-word-nothing-Tamil-about-it-Historian/articleshow/34640530.cms

http://www.rediff.com/news/interview/historian-jbp-more-theres-no-word-like-chennai-in-tamil/20140826.htm

UPDATE 2
Dr.Jayabarathi's input on the word Canai having a Tamil origin. As mentioned, it is not a corrupt form of Chennai. It is the process of beating the dough.



Wednesday, 21 January 2015

The Mandailing Tunnel of Bukit Nanas

Yesterday, The Star published an article about the discovery of a tunnel in Bukit Nanas (Pineapple Hill), Kuala Lumpur. A copy of the article can be read at the link below:

http://www.thestar.com.my/Metro/Community/2015/01/19/part-of-bukit-nanas-secret-tunnel-made-public/

This tunnel is said to be dug by the Mandailing people during the Klang War which happened during 1867-1874 AD. Mandailings are an ethnic group related to the Malays and Bataks . They are from Sumatra and they have paternal family names. 

Their family names are known as marga, a Sanskrit word signifying people of same origin. Marriage between two people of the same marga is forbidden. The Marga is their Gothra.

The Klang War involved many different ethnics. Although today they are called as one Malay race in Malaysia, back in the olden days, they divided themselves as Malays, Bugis, Acehnese, Mandailings, Javanese etc. The Klang War also saw the involvement of the Hakkas and Cantonese of the Chinese community.

I wonder if the Indians were involved in this war. Perhaps I should do some research about this war.

Since the tunnel was dug by the Mandailing people, I decided to call it the Mandailing Tunnel. I visited the place today. It was closed so I could not go inside. It is said that the tunnel leads to the Klang River which is just a hundred meters away from the tunnel entrance.

Someone once told me that the Klang River has few underground streams in KL. Perhaps this tunnel is connected to one of those streams which then leads to the main river. 

The archaeological department should conduct some study. Not only on the tunnel but also the Bukit Nanas forest. Perhaps they can find remains of old kampungs and a few tools including weapons used by the Mandailings in the Klang War.

I hope I can someday go inside the tunnel to see it for myself. Here are some pictures which I took this morning.


This place is located right beside Wariseni, near Monorail Bukit Nanas.


Entrance
Location of the tunnel entrance and the present day nearest access to Klang River


Monday, 19 January 2015

Minoan Bulls and Basque Goddess - A Possible Tamil Connection?


SOURCE: Dr. N. Lahovary in "Dravidian Origins and the West", published by Orient Longmans, Bombay, 1963

Spain is known for its sports involving bulls. They have bullfighting, bull leaping and bull chasing. Each are different. They may have inherited this from the earlier Minoan civilization which existed in the island of Crete.

Probably the Spaniards and Minioans shared the same culture during ancient times. We don't know. 

Like the Spaniards, we Tamils also have a few sports involving bulls. It is collectively called as Jallikattu and there are few variations in this sport.

There is a region in Spain known as Basque. The Basque language of Spain (and parts of France) is different from other European languages. Some scholars believe that it may be related to ancient Tamil language.

The Basque people have a goddess named Maari. She is their goddess of weather. Similarly, we Tamils too have a goddess named Maari. She is also our goddess of weather. The Tamil word Maari is synonymous with heavy rain. 

Maari of Basque has two sons, Atxular and Mikelatz. 
Maari of Tamils also has two sons, Muruga and Ganesa. 
(Tamil Maari is seen as a form of Sakthi)

When Christianity entered the Basque world, the worship of native Maari was replaced with Mary. The Tamils who converted into Christianity worship the same Mary. Despite change of religion, the cult of Maari has somehow survived in a new form. 

The original native cult of Maari is still very popular among the Tamils who mostly remained as Hindus.

There seem to be some connection between the people of ancient Basque-Spain-Minoa and the Tamils. Hopefully some day, with the blessings of Maari, we will find the missing link.

(Pictures taken from Google. Credit goes to various people who uploaded them)

Bull Leaping

Bull Fighting

Bull Chasing

Bull Leaping

Minoan Bull Leaping

Minoan Bull Leaping

Minoan Bull Leaping

Jallikattu

Jallikattu

Jallikattu

PROOF POSITIVE: A seal made of stone, found at Mohenjodaro, depicting “jallikattu” (bull-baiting) that was prevalent in the Indus Civilisation. The seal, about 4,000 years old, is on display at the National Museum, New Delhi.

ROCK CUT: A painting of bull chasing on a massive rock surface at Karikkiyur in the Nilgiris. These pictures, according to specialists in rock art, are dateable to 2,000 B.C. to 1,500 B.C. Karikkiyur is the biggest rock art site in south India, with the rock surface teeming with about 500 paintings.

The stone sculpture depicting a bull taming event at Salem District Museum

Maari of Basque

Maari of the Tamils

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

The Cambodian Who Ruled Tamil Nadu

Bokator - The traditional martial art of Cambodia.
https://500px.com/photo/2107465/cambodia's-martial-arts-by-visions-of-indochina

The Pallava kingdom once ruled a large area in Tamil Nadu. They had their capital in Kanchipuram which is located in the Thondai region of Tamil Nadu. Thondai region is made of northern Tamil Nadu and southern Andhra Pradesh.


The identity of the Pallava dynasty is a mystery. It is generally accepted that they were Persians who migrated to India. In a few centuries, they moved from North India to South India. 

They served under existing dynasties such as Satavahanas and Cholas as vassals. They later become powerful enough to create a kingdom of their own in 275 AD.

Although not Tamil in origin, they eventually became Tamilized. This is because they intermarried with local Tamil royalties for many generations. The Pallavas also colonized areas in South East Asia and created dynasties in what is today Indochina. 

One of the Pallava kings, Simhavishnu reigned around 550 AD. He is credited for creating a strong Pallava empire by subduing many kings of southern India. He has also sent naval expedition to Sri Lanka and South East Asia. 

About 6 generations after Simhavishnu, Parameswaravarman became the king of Pallava during 720-730 AD. However, Parameswaravarman died battling the Chalukyas. He left no heir.

Someone had to replace him as the new king. The Pallava royal council came up with a solution. The solution was to get someone from the same lineage as the deceased king to become the new Pallava king.

Simhavishnu who lived 6 generations earlier created colonies in Southeast Asia. He had a brother named Bhimavarman. 

Bhimavarman became the king of Kambujadesa which is also known as Chen-La covering Cambodia, Laos and parts of Thailand. So the Pallava bloodline survived in Southeast Asia thanks to Bhimavarman.

When the royal council went to Kambujadesa, a descendant of Bhimavarman was ruling there. His name was Harivarman. By this time, the Pallava bloodline in Kambujadesa would have become Cambodianized. Either fully or partially. 

Harivarman had a few sons and the youngest son, Nandivarman, agreed to become the new Pallava king. He then travelled back with the royal council to Kanchipuram and gets himself crowned there.

Nandivarman is the Cambodian prince who ruled Tamil Nadu as the Pallava king. His rule ended in 796 AD.