The History of Machas

This article  contains half truth and the rest were self-imagination.  Don’t challenge the ‘facts’, since there are none anyway. 

In the early 1890’s right up to 1940’s, hundreds of thousands of Indians from India was brought in by British to Malaya. Indian labors opened up the forests, established the rubber plantations, built the roads, railways, set up the transmission lines, built the ports and airports and worked tirelessly in estates around the country with little income.By 1931, there was an estimated 700000 Indians in Malaya. In those days, air travel is an expensive and rare choice for distance travelling. For the Indian labors, the British opted to ship them out. It takes months in the sea sometimes to reach Malaya.

Majority of all Indians that reached Malayan shores were ethnic Tamils. When they started travelling, almost all of them were strangers to each other. However, due to the long duration of travelling, they became friends and helped out each other. The ships are usually crammed up to the max, to transport as many Indian labors as possible. In due course, many Indians fell sick and had to be taken care by the rest.The struggle was enormous, and just to keep alive, they were forced to look out for each other, although they were mere strangers when they began the trip.

It was here that it is believed that the term ‘Macha’ took a new revolution. ‘Macha’ is a Tamil word which if converted directly means ‘brother in law’. In India, it is generally believed that your ‘Macha'(brother in law) will stand by you whenever you have a problem.

Machas chilling around the ports..

That was exactly the case in the ship. Since they started looking out for each other, they started calling each other’s ‘Macha’. Once they reached Malaya, the word spread out to such extend that we’re using it extensively nowadays.

Language scientists around the world are trying to decipher the meaning behind the word Macha, on how the word was formed. Macha is actually a compound of two Sanskrit words, Ma~ meaning Mother and ~Cha meaning Love.

In direct translations from Sanskrit, it means anyone who can provide motherly love (other than your own mother); can be called as a Macha.In those days, only brother in laws protect their sisters husband even if it means losing their own life. So it was not surprising that the term Macha was particularly used to address this relationship.

Machas those days with their chicks...

In Malaysia, the Macha word had been used extensively by all the races. Malays, Chinese and Indians , including Sikhs calls each other Macha. The word had evolved to several variations to suit all the races, but still retaining the same value and meaning.

For the Indians, you can stick with Ma~Cha.

For the Malays, they have slightly different pronunciations. You can call them as Ma~Shah or Mat~Cha.

For the Chinese,you can call them as Ma~Chia or Ma~Chan.

For someone who is from a mixed parentage such as Chinese and Malay, they can be called as Mat~Chan.

Several usage of the word Macha in a situation:

To introduce your close friend:

Hi friends, meet my Macha, Durai!

To say thanks/compliment:

You’re my Macha la!

However, the word Macha can be used regardless of race, religion, country, ethnic, gender, and status. It spreads love, and brings people together. There are basically two main types of Machas as you’ve already known:

Educated Machas

These are the type of Machas the society is proud of. They get educated, take care of their families, have moderate entertainment and give back to the society. They’re mostly found close to big cities, and are easy to approach and talk to. They avoid Indian pubs, and prefer chill out bars and normal clubs. They usually have cars. The bad thing about some of them is they can be cunning, and fucking up girls is their specialty. Most Meenachis get cheated with this type of guys, especially the Meenachis that moves out from estates to urban cities.

Scale 1-5 – Five being highest
Violence Level : 1
Fatality : 1
Intelligence : 4
Creativity : 2

Karat Machas

These types of Machas are usually found in areas close to estates or squatters. Although generally good at heart, they’re the most furious guys and will resort to violence for the smallest thing. They’re usually found in groups and do monkey stunts in motorbikes to attract girls attention. They have high respect towards girls, which is a very peculiar thing. Due to the lack of opportunity because of their poor educational background, they tend to resort to crimes and violent activities. They go to clubs in KL once a year, get drunk and then slash each other and die.

Scale 1-5 – Five being highest
Violence Level : 5
Fatality : 5
Intelligence : 2
Creativity : 4

Obviously there are Machas that derive characteristics from both the groups. Since they’re rare, I will not talk about them.

I hope this article had shed some light on the history of Machas.

Thank you,
Machas Activist


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