[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]
Tales of a Hakka town (1)
Tales of a Hakka town
The name of my hometown is Pusing which is sixteen kilometers south of
Ipoh, the capital of the State of Perak in Malaysia. Over ninety per cent
of the residents in Pusing are Hakka, the offspring of the immigrants who
came from Dongguan county in Guangdong province China during the ninetieth
century. These immigrants came to this area to work in the tin mines.
They built their settlement and called it Xi Di which meant Tin Land.
Later a Malay penghulu or chieftain in Batu Gajah, four kilometers away,
renamed it Pusing, ater a little stream near the settlement because there
was a shape bend of about ninety degrees on it. Pusing in Malay means
turn, rotate or whirl.
More and more Hakkas arrived from Dongguan at the turn of the twentieth
century. Due to the increment of the population Pusing prospered. Many
new shop houses were built and it became a small town. There is a saying
in Pusing that more than hundred per cent of the Pusing Chinese speak
Hakka. Why is it so? The answer is that the few Malay and Indian families
in Pusing speak Hakka too.
The Hakkas in Pusing acquired a little hill about two kilometers west
of the town. They used this hill as the burial ground for their deceased
relatives and it became a cemetery. Before they began to use thier
cemetery they first buried the things they brought along with them
from Dongguan. Things like clothing, soil, water, the golden urn
containing their ancestors bones, and many other things. This was what
they called Zong Fen or Main Grave which was to be the substitution for
their Hakka villages in Dongguan. Every year on the 14th day of the 7th
moon, according to the Lunar Calendar, the Hakkas in Pusing would go to
the Main Grave to pray. After the ceremony they would adjourn to a
restaurant for a grand feast.
I recalled an occasion when my father invited an Indian Sikh who was a
bullock cart owner to the feast. In order to create a harmonious enviourment
in the town sometimes non-Hakkas were invited to the feast. This Sikh spoke
Hakka as if he was from Dongguan. My father used to hire his bullock cart
to carry tin ore from the mine to Pusing to sell to a British company called
Eastern Smelting Company. During the feast this Sikh jokingly told the
dinners that he was a Dongguan Punjabi. This made every one roared. From
then on he was nicknamed Dongguan Punjabi.