Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia | 24 July 2015 | Asia Samachar |
Your father or grandfather landed in Malaya some 75 years ago.
How did he feel coming to this distant land from the land-locked Punjab? Was it the first time he saw the sea? Where did he spend the first night in Malaya? What belongings did he carry with him? What were the thoughts running through his mind? Was he worried or eager to chalk his next path?
These are some of questions you may want to pose to your elders who are still around. Only they can answer some of these questions – no one else.
But how do we capture those moments and how do we preserve them? Help is on the way with a newly launched endeavour called The Hidden Histories Project.
Dr Narveen Kaur, a post-doctoral researcher from UK’s University of Nottingham, will lead the second roadshow on the project led by the Coalition of Malaysian Sikh Organisations (CMSO) at the Sabha House in Kuala Lumpur on 26 July (Sunday) between 3-5pm.
“We like to see more youth coming forward to help preserve our heritage in this country,” CMSO secretary-general Autar Singh tells Asia Samachar.
The first roadshow was held at Gurdwara Sahib Petaling Jaya on 19 July.
“This is an opportunity to tell our stories in this country. This is to lay the claim of your stake for the nation. People become immortal when their stories are told,” Autar said in his opening address after an ardaas.
“This is gives us an oganised, structured system to capture our family history. It will be online. If there are gaps, then someone else can help fill it up.”
A website (www.sikhheritagemalaysia.com) has been launched for the project.
Dr Narveen, a Malaysian-born attached with the university’s Centre for Hidden Histories, is now looking at family narratives of arrival in Malaysia to the end of 1920 for the first phase of her current project, then to be extended to the late periods.
“We have our oral histories passed down in our own families. We have our own family heroes. This can be captured. You start with one memory and it will unlock many other memories,” she told the first roadshow, which was broadcast live over SimranTV.
The Sunday session will be broadcast live over SikhInside.
In an introduction to the project, Dr Narveen states that for the period ending 1920, for example, the history books state that many Sikhs arrived as police or to work in transport and describes these early settlers as uneducated.
“Little is known or recorded of the arrival of women or men who do not fit in to this military narrative. The reasons our ancestors migrated and their experiences of making Malaysia their home vary greatly.
“The aim of this project is to collect and share this diversity within the community and to celebrate the challenges and adversity our forefathers (and foremothers) overcame to get here and to build lives here. Subsequent phases will aim to collect memories of the British colonial period, World War II, Independence, The Emergency and up to the present day,” she writes.
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