Thursday, December 10, 2009

Cham People(越南占族)

The Cham people (Vietnamese: người Chăm or người Chàm) are an ethnic group in Southeast Asia. They are concentrated between the Kampong Cham Province in Cambodia and central Vietnam's Phan Rang-Thap Cham, Phan Thiet, Ho Chi Minh City and An Giang areas. Approximately 4,000 Chams also live in Thailand; many of whom have moved south to the Pattani, Narathiwat, Yala, and Songkhla Provinces for work. Cham form the core of the Muslim communities in both Cambodia and Vietnam. After the 1976 establishment of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, some of the 55,000 Muslim Chams emigrated to Malaysia. Also found on the Hainan island, China are the Utsuls, descendants of Cham refugees who are classified as Hui by the Chinese government.

Cham are remnants of the Kingdom of Champa (7th to 15th centuries). They are closely related to other Austronesian peoples and speak Cham, a Malayo-Polynesian language of the Austronesian language family (Aceh-Chamic subgroup).

The ancestors of the Cham probably migrated from the island of Borneo. Records of the Champa kingdom go as far back as 2nd century AD China. At its height in the 9th century, the kingdom controlled the lands between Hue, in central Annam, to the Mekong Delta in Cochinchina. Its prosperity came from maritime trade in sandalwood and slaves and probably included piracy.

In the 12th century AD, the Cham fought a series of wars with the Angkorian Khmer to the west. In 1177, the Cham and their allies launched an attack from the lake Tonle Sap and managed to sack the Khmer capital. In 1181, however, they were defeated by the Khmer King Jayavarman VII.

Between the rise of the Khmer Empire around 800 and Vietnam's territorial push to the south, the Champa kingdom began to diminish. In 1471 it suffered a massive defeat by the Vietnamese, in which 120,000 people were either captured or killed, and the kingdom was reduced to a small enclave near Nha Trang. Between 1607 and 1676 the Champa king converted to Islam, and during this period Islam became a dominant feature of Cham society.

Further expansion by the Vietnamese in 1720 resulted in the annexation of the Champa kingdom and its persecution by the Vietnamese king, Minh Mang. As a consequence, the last Champa Muslim king, Pô Chien, decided to gather his people (those on the mainland) and migrate south to Cambodia, while those along the coastline migrated to Trengganu (Malaysia). A tiny group fled northward to the Chinese island of Hainan where they are known today as the Utsuls. The area of Cambodia where the king and the mainlanders settled is still known as Kompong Cham, where they scattered in communities across the Mekong River. Not all the Champa Muslims migrated with the king. A few groups stayed behind in the Nha Trang, Phan Rang, Phan Rí, and Phan Thiết provinces of central Vietnam.

In the 1960s there were various movements of uprising to free the Cham people and create their own state. The movements were the Liberation Front of Champa (FLC - Le Front pour la Libération de Cham) and the Front de Libération des Hauts plateaux. The latter sought cooperation with other hilltribes. The initial name of the movement was called "Front des Petits Peuples" from 1946 to 1960. In 1960 the name was changed to "Front de Libération des Hauts plateaux" and joined, with the FLC, the "Front unifié pour la Libération des Races opprimées" (FULRO) at some point in the 1960s. Today there is no serious secessionist movement or political activity.

Vietnamese Cham
The Vietnamese Chams live mainly in coastal and Mekong Delta provinces. They have two distinct religious communities, Muslim or Cham Bani constitute about 80%–85% of the Cham, and Hindu or Balamon (deriving from the word "Brāhman" and used both in Cham and in Vietnamese), who constitute about 15%–20% of the Cham. While they share a common language and history, there is no intermarriage between the groups. A small number of the Cham also follow Mahayana Buddhism. Many emigrated to France in the late 1960s after the civil war broke out in Saigon city.

There are small groups of Muslims and Hindus in Vietnam. Most of them are Chams, one of the country’s largest ethnic groups, who are almost equally divided between the two. The vast majority of Chams live along the coastal plain between Nha Trang and Phan Thiet or in Ho Chi Minh City which has both a mosque and three Hindu temples. Cham Hindus call themselves Balamons, a sect that traces it roots back to the ancient Kingdom of Champa which drew cultural and religious inspiration from Khmers Hindus who began the construction of Angkok Wat.

Muslims and Hindus Chams live in separate villages within the same communes; they rarely intermarry and they celebrate separate festivals. One of the emblems of their religious harmony is the fact that they produce "forbidden food" for one another; the Muslims do not eat pork but raise pigs for the Hindus, whilst the Hindus do not eat beef but they raise cattle for the Muslims!

Cham Muslim
In Cambodia, the Chams are 90% Muslim, as are the Utsuls of Hainan. The isolation of Cham Muslims in central Vietnam resulted in an increased syncretism with Buddhism until recent restoration of contacts with other global Muslim communities in Vietnamese cities, but Islam is now seeing a renaissance, with new mosques being built. During the rule of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, the Chams of that country suffered serious purges with as much as half of their population exterminated.

Malaysia has some Cham immigrants and the link between the Chams and the Malaysian state of Kelantan is an old one. The Malaysian constitution recognizes the Cham rights to Malaysian citizenship and their Bumiputra status, and the Cham communities in Malaysia and along the Mekong River in Vietnam continue to have strong interactions.

The first religion of the Champa was a form of Shaivite Hinduism, brought by sea from India. As Arab merchants stopped along the Vietnam coast en route to China, Islam began to influence the civilization.

The exact date that Islam came to Champa is unknown, but grave markers dating to the 11th century have been found. It is generally assumed that Islam came to Indochina much after its arrival in China during the Tang Dynasty (618–907), and that Arab traders in the region came into direct contact only with the Chams, and not others. This might explain why only the Chams have been traditionally identified with Islam in Indochina. Although the Chams follow a localised adaptation of Islamic theology, they consider themselves Muslims. However, they pray only on Fridays and celebrate Ramadan for only three days. Circumcision is performed not physically, but symbolically, with a religious leader making the gestures of circumcision with a wooden toy knife.

Vietnam's largest mosque was opened in January 2006 in Xuan Loc, Dong Nai Province; its construction was partially funded by donations from Saudi Arabia. The Ho Chi Minh City Muslim Representative Committee was founded in 1991 with seven members; a similar body was formed in An Giang Province in 2004.There is a mosque in An Giang.

Muslim Community in Chau Giang - An Giang, Vietnam:

Cham Hindu
From the 1st to 6th centuries AD, Vietnam was part of the Indianised kingdom of Funan, which produced notably refined art and architecture. The Funanese constructed an elaborate system of canals which were used for both transportation and the irrigation of wet rice agriculture. In mid-6th century, Funan was attacked by the pre-Angkorian Kingdom of Chenla, which gradually absorbed the territory of Funana into its own.

The Hindu kingdom of Champa appeared around present-day Danang in the late 2nd century. Like Funan, it became Indianised by lively commercial relations with India and through the immigration of Indian literati and priests. Brilliant examples of Cham sculpture can be seen in the Cham Museum in Danang.

The Champa civilization was located in the more southern part of what is today Central Vietnam, and was a highly indianized Hindu Kingdom. Mỹ Sơn, a Hindu temple complex built by the Champa is still standing in Quang Nam province, in Vietnam. They were conquered by the Vietnamese and today are one of the many ethnic minorities of Vietnam.

Kingdom of Champa

The kingdom of Champa flourished from the 2nd to the 15th centuries. It first appeared around present-day Danang and later by 8th century spread south to what is now Nha Trang and Phan Rang. The Cham adopted Hinduism, employed Sanskrit as a sacred language and borrowed heavily from Indian art. One of the most stunning sights in Hoi An area is My Son, Vietnam's most important Cham site. During the centuries when Tra Kieu (then known as Simhapura) served as the political capital of Champa. Dong Dong (then known as Indrapura) served as the Cham's religious centre.

My Son was the site of the most important Cham intellectual and religious centre, and also may have served as a burial place for Cham monarchs. My Son is considered to be Champa's counterpart to the grand cities of south-east Asia's other Indian-influenced civilsations: Agkor (Cambodia), Bagan (Myanmar), Aythaya (Thailand) and Borobudur (Java).

My Son became a religious centre under King Bhadravarman in the late 4th century and was occupied until 13th century. Most temples were dedicated to Cham kings associated with divinities, especially Shiva, who was regarded as the founder and protector of Champa's dynasties. The main sanctuary was dedicated to Bhadresvara, which is a contraction of the name of King Bhadravarman, who built the first temple at My Son, combined with '-esvara', which means Siva.

The linga inside was discovered during excavations in 1985. The 8th century was used to worship Shiva portrayed in human form rather than in the form of linga. Inside is an altar where a statue of Shiva, now in the Cham Museum in Danang used to stand. In the Museum, the objects displayed include a large panel of Shiva dancing on a platform above the bull Nandi. To Shiva's left is his son Skanda (under a tree), his wife Uma and a worshipper. To Shiva's right is a dancing saint and two musicians under a tree, one with two drums, the other with a flute. The display also include a finely carved lion - symbol of the power of the king (the lion was believed to be an incarnation of Vishnu and the protector of kings).

Champa was profoundly influenced by Hinduism and many of the Cham towers, built as Hindu sanctuaries, containing lingas that are still worshipped by ethnic-Vietnamese and ethnic-Chinese alike. After the fall of Champa in the 15th century, most Chams who remained in Vietnam became Muslims, but continued to practice various Brahmic rituals and customs.

Approximately 50,000 ethnic Cham in the south-central coastal area practice a devotional form of Hinduism. Another 4,000 Hindus (mostly Tamils) live in Ho Chi Minh city; some are ethnic Cham but most are Indian or of mixed Indian-Vietnamese descent. Evidences indicate that in Saigon (presently Ho Chi Minh City) the Indian population, mainly from South India was of a significant number in the past. Almost all of South Vietnam's Indian population, most of whose roots were in southern India, left 1975 after reunification. The remaining community in Ho Chi Minh City worships at the Mariamman Hindu Temple. (Within the last few years, the many Indians are coming back for business purposes). A tiny and almost forgotten minority group are the Tamils, whose ancestors came from tiny French enclaves like Pondicherry and Karikal along the south coast of India. Their small community in Ho Chi Minh City, now only a few thousand. In the late 19th century the Tamil immigrants from the French colonies of South India erected the Mariamman Temple in Saigon.

The Hindu temples in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) are over 100 years. In the late 19th century, the Tamils came from Pondicherry constructed the Mariammam Temple with a raja goopuram. Similarly, in mid 20th century Nagartars built two Hindu temples, namely Sri Thendayutthapani Temple and Sunbramaniar Temple, using Indian craftsmen, builders and sculptors. Similar to the ancient temples in India, these temples followed the principles of temple building. All three temples have large sized halls (mandapams) and inner and outer circumferences. All three temples are in close proximity in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon).

During the Vietnam war, the unfavourable economic and political situations in South Vietnam caused the exodus of Nagartars. Some of them had Vietnamese wifes. Their offsprings have pure tamil names but they are unable to speak or write in Tamil.

The Mariamman Temple(or Chua Ba Mariamman), Ho Chi Minh City is one of the most notable Hindu temples here. Mariamman Temple is only three blocks west of Ben Thanh Market, at 45 D Truong Dinh. It is open from 7 am to 7 pm daily. The Mariamman Temple is dedicated to the Hindu Goddess Mariamman. It was built in the late 19th century by traders from Tamil Nadu. It was built at first to serve the Chettiar community in Vietnam. It serves around 50 Tamil families in Saigon, and most of the devotees are Vietnamese or Chinese. The decorations of the deities and joss sticks used are similar to those in Chinese temples. The devotees offer flowers and fruits and burn joss sticks, both straight and spiral shaped. Devotees remove their shoes before entering the temples to maintain the purity of the temple.

Subramaian Temple is located at 98, Nam Ky Khoi Nghia Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City. It is in the central business district of Ho Chi Minh City. No historical data available to indicate the year of construction of this temple but the installation of the Navagrahas was carried out in 1928.

Sri Thendayutthapani temple is located at 66 Ton That Thiep, Quan 1 (District 1), Ho Chi Minh City.

Most of the Cham Hindus belong to the Nagavamshi Kshatriya caste(warriors and administrators, wielding political power), but a considerable minority are Brahmins(the class of educators, law makers, scholars and preachers of Dharma in Hinduism, which is said to occupy the highest position among the four varnas or caste of Hinduism). The Balamon Hindu Cham people of Vietnam consist of 70% Kshatriyas (pronounced in Vietnamese as "Satrias"). Although Balamon make up only 25% of the overall Cham population (the other 75% are Muslims or Cham Bani). These Balamon Kshatriyas claim to be the descendants of the Champa Empire.

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