Little India of Penang

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Organized by Badan Warisan Malaysia in collaboration with Think City Institute.

Live Webinar Details

Date: Saturday, 17 April 2021
Time: 2:00 PM (Kuala Lumpur, GMT+8)
Topic: Little India of Penang
Speaker: Preveena Balakrishnan
Moderator: Anand Krishnan, Council Member, Badan Warisan Malaysia
Free Admission


Preveena will be talking about Little India’s living multi-cultural heritage as depicted by various religious and cultural practices of the society, multi-ethnic culture authenticity & originality traditional trades, such as ethnic food & beverage and spices trading. Traditional trades enhancing the traditional concept of urban design would be explored.

Little India is very rich in living their multi-cultural heritage as depicted by various religious and cultural practices of the society. The Little India consists of Market Street, known as the Kadai Teru or the street of shops by early Tamils in Penang. It is known as Ellammuchanthee among the Tamil community and the British called it Chola Place of Little Madras. The vast majority of Indians – mostly Tamil Malayalee, Gujaratis, Punjabis and Telegus – are textile traders, spice merchants, sundry shop owners, otthu kadaai, small/tea or food stall operators, restaurants owners, newspaper vendors and jewellery shop owners along Market Street. On Penang Street, the whole stretch is dominated by restaurants ranging from non-vegetarian to pure vegetarian, tailoring shops and sweets shops. The end of Penang Street is called Cheeti Teeru, where the chettiars kettinggi and Rathum Kothai (chariot) are located at King Street, Padavukara Tharuva Theeru. Oothu Kadai or Peti Kadai and Tea Kadai are unique features of Little India. Chulia Street has a variety of shops and the Nagore Shrine, a replica of the shrine in India. Queen Street is largely dominated by the Tamil Indian Muslims involved in the import -export business, are jewellers, money changers, as well as operators of restaurants, tea and food stalls, newspaper stalls and stevedoring. The Muslim food vendors do not sell beef as a sign of respect to the residing deity of Queen Street in the Maha Mariamman Temple; this respect extends to the Hindu Communities within Little India.


As a heritage and cultural heritage researcher, Preveena received her first degree in Accounting and was a practicing Accountant before switching her career to the heritage and cultural field. Her MBA thesis focused on the sustainability of traditional trade within George Town, Penang, after the UNESCO World Heritage Listing. She is currently a PhD Research Scholar at University Science Malaysia, conducting research bearing the title “Industry-Academia Collaboration Framework: Towards a Sustainable Corporate” and she contributes to Penang Monthly mainly on Indian Heritage and History. Her works include oral documentation of several aspects of the Indian Malaysian cultural heritage. She has made oral history recordings of World War 2 experiences, traditional food, traditional trades, changes in the transportation system, use of spaces and communities. Through her associations with GTWHI and an extensive network, Preveena has created a whole range of oral history collection in the Tamil language.

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