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Asal Usul Perkataan Lebai


Suatu ketika dulu saya pernah berbincang dengan seorang professor sejarah di Universiti Malaya yang bertanya berkenaan perkatan ‘lebai’ (Pak Lebai dsbnya).

Walaupun perkataan ‘lebai’ dan ‘pak lebai’ dikenali dan difahami oleh orang Melayu dan bahasa Melayu tetapi sahabat saya professor itu berkata asal usul ‘lebai’ tidak terjumpa dalam bahasa Melayu.

Maka saya pun jawab  bahawa lebai itu diambil daripada perkataan Tamil ‘leb-bai’ atau ‘lab-bay’ atau pun le-vey.  Yang berikut adalah sedikit research Wikipedia berkenaan Leb-bai atau Labbay di Tamil Nadu, India.  

Labbay, Leb-bai (Labbai, Lebbay, Lebbai), is an Islamic community in southern India found throughout the southern Indian states including Tamil Nadu.

Labbays are said to have descended from traders who originated in the Persian Gulf and Arabian Peninsula through mixed unions of themselves with the local Tamil population, as well as many converts from the southern states of India. Since the late 13th century, Labbays have specialized in the trade and manufacturing of leather, tobacco, grains and spices. 

Today, the Labbay community is based in towns including Bangalore, Chennai, Kadayanallur, Kilakarai, Koothanallur, Kayalpatnam, Adiramapattinam, Pazhaverkadu, Thondi, thopputhurai, Nagore, and Erwadi.

Labbays constitute a substantial percentage in the coastal villages and towns from the border of Andhra to Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu, from Kanyakumari to the Karnataka border, and all over Sri Lanka. 

Dalam bahasa Ibrani (Hebrew atau bahasa orang Yahudi) mereka juga sebut “levy” (serupa jenama seluar jeans Levi).  Le-vy di sebut lee-vai.

Levy adalah seorang padri atau sami agama Yahudi. 

Dalam kitab Pentateuch atau Torah (Old Testament)  terdapat bab ‘Leviticus’ yang maksudnya kaum Levy.  

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