President s Message:Dr.Achaiah Kumar Rao

Telugu Association of Malaysia is celebrating 150 years of Malaysian Telugu Heritage this year with a range of activities. Malaysian Telugu Heritage is celebrated in commemoration of the landing of Telugu speaking people from Bimili, Bimunipatnam, Palakolu, Visakapatnam and Madras port of Madras Residency in late 18th century. They were mainly textile traders and sailors in the East India company ships. Telugu speaking people of South India came in large communities in the l9th century as a strong labour force to work in rubber and coconut plantations. A small number of Telugus worked in the railways, as court translators and as Telugu teachers.

Telugu people were grouped as South Indians and their specific linguistic, cultural and social needs were not addressed before independence. This had resulted in the formation of Malaya Andhra Sangham in Bagan Datoh, Perak in 1955. The objectives of the association have not changed since its formation i.e. to safeguard and promote Telugu language and culture and to upgrade the social and educational status of the community.

Malaysian people of Telugu origin are celebrating their 150 years of heritage in peaceful and beautiful Malaysia. We thank Malaysians of all ethnic groups for living in harmony and having mutual respect for all Malaysians, irrespective of their language, race and religion. If it were not for the tolerance and respect we have for each other, Telugu people would not be what we are today. Thank You Malaysia

Language is the life of a race – ‘Bahasa Jiva Bangsa’ – says a Malay saying. Telugu Language is the identity of the Telugu Community. In line with this slogan, TAM is propagating the Telugu language by conducting POL classes, adult classes and ‘balavikas’ in all branches and also annual moral camps. There had been a tremendous positive change seen among students and parents in the last few years. The numbers of POL classes have increased from 9 classes 8 years ago to 40 classes today. The number of students attending our annual moral camp had also increased from 30 students in 2003 to 300 students in 2009. TAM’s ultimate aim is to have at least 1 student who knows how to read and write Telugu in every Telugu family by the year 2016.

In Malaysia, after 150 years, Telugu festivals and cultural activities are still very much alive. We still celebrate Sankranti, Ugadhi, Sri Rama Navami, Nookalammah festival and Boolokammah festival along with other festivals. Malaysian Telugus are still very much in touch with Telugu keertanas, bhajans and folk songs. We still see Chiratalu, Dhatubajanalu, gobbillu and sewa gahardi performed on occasions. Kattu panche (dhoti) and kanduva for men and saree tied with its paita on the right hand side for women is still a common site in Telugu homes and at community functions. The pattern of the mangala-soothara (thaali bottu) has not changed ever since the Telugus landed here. Weddings are still conducted according to the Telugu panchangam. All the above are testomonies of the preservation and propagation of our culture.

TAM founders had always emphasized on improving the status of our community to one of a highly educated and professional community. Today, TAM is proud to say that in every Telugu family there is at least one graduate or professional. The free education provided by the government has helped the poor and economically backward members of the Telugu community to acquire this status. However this is not sufficient to bring our community to a developed status. We should still strive very hard to become an economically sustainable community. Although the Telugu people of Malaysia have improved economically in the last 55 years, in comparison with other races in Malaysia, we are still far back on the economic ladder.

Survival of the Telugu language, culture and identity is closely related to the financial strength of the community. Our community must have many cooperate figures and these people must also contribute towards the development of the community. The success of our community depends very much on our financial/economical strength. I am very thankful to Dato’ Seri Edmund Chandra Ramanaidu for being the first Telugu to come forward in a big way, voluntarily, to help our community in education and charity. I wish many more wealthy Telugu people will come forward and contribute towards the community’s well being.

TAM is progressively moving forward in all fields with accountability and transparency. There has been a tremendous positive change in people’s perception of TAM’s capabilities and influence as a non-governmental organisation. The ruling political parties as well as the government recognize our contribution towards the nation’s development.

The culmination of all these concerted efforts have brought us to the mega event, ’An Evening with Prime Minister of Malaysia’ as part of the 150 yrs Malaysian Telugu Heritage celebrations to be held on 8 October 2010 at Putrajaya International Convention Centre (PICC), Putrajaya.

Dear Telugu brothers and sisters, by keeping my hands together, I, on behalf of TAM, humbly request you to join us in this significant mega event with all your family members. This will be the first time the Prime Minister of Malaysia is coming to a Telugu function, a first time to see 10,000 Telugus under one roof, the first time we are going to have a mega Tollywood nite with Telugu artist and a first time for a large scale Malaysia Telugu Heritage photographic exhibition.

Let’s join hands together and contribute in whatever way we can to make this event a grand success and cherish the sweet memories thereafter. ‘An evening with PM’ is an event by you, for you with the Telugu community.

See you with your family and friends on 8 October 2010 at Putrajaya.

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