Friday, 6 May 2011

Boria and the Ethnogenesis of the Malays

Have you ever seen or heard of boria? It's not bosia but boria. It's not bo ria. It's boria! What is boria? What do you know about boria? Have you ever performed in a boria? Boria is also spelled as boeria. Boria or boeria could have been derived from 'Boleh Ceria' and then contracted to become boria. So, boria could mean and refer to, 'Let's party and be happy'. So let's be happy with boria.

1. Boria Bal is a village in Balkh Province in northern Afghanistan (Wikipedia).
2. Boria is a village in Poland (Wikipedia).

Boria is a Hindu caste in north India (Wikipedia).
Boria is a sub-group of the Pasi clan that practices endogamy (Wikipedia).
The Boria and Pasi do not intermarry.
The Boria speak Awadhi dialect. The Pasi speak Hindi.
A part of Pasi embraced Islam and became known as Turuk Pasi.
Turuk Pasi are Muslims.

Transmigration and ethnogenesis
The Indians came to Malaya and with them came a group that continued boria here? Whether boria was borned and propagated by the few Shite Muslims who came to Malaya remain unknown. The Sunni Muslim views of boria are unknown. The ulama' will view boria as haram when it combines men and women together in a staged performance. Whether boria has links to the Jews is also unknown.

Please read about boria in Straits Muslims: Diasporas of the northern passage of the Straits of Malacca by Wazir Jahan Karim, editor (2009), pp9-10; 52-57.

Boria is a staged dance performance meant for public viewing. It is usually performed in the village or at universities and elsewhere. It is performed for welcoming visitors to a village or part of a stage presentation. The boria (dance) is performed in a large group (10-20 people or more) and led by a leader and singer. The songs are often welcoming songs and now have taken to advisory overtones for civic mindedness.

Boria lyrics

"Boria Anak Tanjung" - Boria Pulau Pinang

Kalimah bismillah bermula kata
Alhamdulillah bersyukur kita
Perihal Pulau Pinang tajuk cerita
Boria Anak Tanjung membawa berita

Lainlah buluh lainlah parang
Lain dahulu lain sekarang
Perubahan Pulau Pinang yang cukup terang
Boria Anak Tanjung cuba menerang

Rakyat sekarang pesat pembangunan
Kembang ekonomi mengikut susunan
Bangunan indah kiri dan kanan
Pemimpin berdedikasi memainkan peranan

(Ulang *)

Rakyat hidup berbilang bangsa
Tolong menolong setiap masa
Menabur bakti membuat jasa
Aman damai hidup selesa

(Ulang *)

Akhir karangan menyusun jari
Cerita kami yang tidak terperi
Salah dan silap tanpa disedari
Ampun dan maaf pohon diberi

Lirik Lagu Boria Anak Tanjung @ Lirikami
Read more:

Boria today
Whatever the origins of boria we see today, who supported boria in the past, who supports boria today, boria is here to stay and has moved beyond our shores by little student ambassadors. It is a lively performance and a good way to welcome visitors and to make them feel at home. Lyrics for boria dance songs or performances have been greatly subdued from being vulgar  to conform to more acceptable Malay community standards. We will support boria that gives a good message to our young and our visitors alike. Boria was never a Malay creation but came to exist within the Malay society's many traditional performances, after years of multicultural acculturation. Boria came to us and has remained. 

Boria costumes. Photo from Penang Museum.

Boria performances
YouTube - Boria (Universiti Sains Malaysia 2008)
YouTube - Boria (Universiti Malaya 2010)
YouTube - Boria (Pennsylvania State University, USA - Malaysian Night 2010)
YouTube - Boria (Kampung Melayu, Penang)