One of the colonies of Chitty Melaka (Chitty means merchant) or Peranakan India - the counterparts of the Peranakan Chinese - the Babas and Nonyas.
The Peranakan India
are part of our
Indian community
and descendants of the early South Indian merchants who
inter-married with the Malays
of Melaka. They speak Malay, wear
Baba attire and jewellery and
cook Nonya food but most are staunch Hindus.

In 'A Nonya Mosaic' Gwee Thiam Hock writes:

'…the Indian Babas who except for their Hindu religion, are
similiar to us in manya respects. A majority of them cannot
converse in their mother tongue, and their food, their cakes,
their ladies' mode of dress and their favourite pastimes are
similar to ours.'

South Indian merchants had from the first millennium A.D .traded with South-East Asia and the Malayan coast especially with Melaka after its foundation about 1402.

South Indian merchants travelled to Melaka and remained in Melaka for some months to wait for the change of monsoons to take them home to India. Many settled in Melaka and married Malay women. Through these marriages was evolved the Peranakan India, the Indian Babas and Nonyas. Many early Chinese traders married local Malays and Peranakan India.

Peranakan India lost contact with their homeland particularly after the Dutch occupation of Melaka in 1641 because of the Dutch monopoly of the Melaka trade. The Peranakan India then became permanent settlers in Melaka.

During the periods when Melaka was ruled by Malay Sultans, later by the Portuguese (1511-1641) and the Dutch (1641-1824) the Peranakan India and earlier as South Indian merchants had occupied a prominent position in Melaka society and were wealthy merchants. One Naina Chitty even was conferred the office of the Bendahara by the Portuguese.

The Peranakan India despite the political power of the Melaka sultanate and the onelaught of Christianity by the Portuguese and the Dutch remained staunch in their Hindu faith and tradition. They carried Hindu classical names. However they were influenced by Chinese and Malay tradition in their attire, their food, their cakes and favourite pastimes, and their jewellery. After their Hindu classical wedding ceremony the Peranakan India would join in the 'Dondang Sayang'. They would play Chinese 'cherki' cards during their leisure and social occasions.

There is a small Peranakan India community in Singapore. Some members are professionals; a few are in the Police Force and the Singapore Armed Forces, and several are in the teaching and legal professions.

The Peranakan India migrated to Singapore from Melaka in the 19th century and settled in Selegie Road, Race Course Road, Chitty Road and Serangoon Road. Today they are widely distributed over the island.

They are a community proud of their culture. Occasionally they visit Melaka. The Peranakan India there live on their own land in Gadja Berang. The oldest Hindu Temple in Singapore and Malaysia is in Melaka built by the Peranakan India; it is known as Sri Poyyatha Vinayagar Moorthy Temple built in 1781.