They migrated to the Malaysian mainland from the town of Rao in Minangkabau Province (West Sumatra Province) in modern-day Indonesia and are descended from the kings or Sultans of Johor as well as the Orang Kuala Aboriginal Malays of Batu Pahat and Pontian Kecil in Johor.
The centre of the Rawas in the Peninsula is Gopeng, a small town in Kampar, Perak. The Rawas were invited by the Sultan of Johor to settle in the Malaysian mainland and they chose to live in Perak, a protectorate of Johor ruled by one of the Johor king’s descendants.
The Rawas live in the villages of Sungai Itik, Jelintuh and Pintu Padang. Sungai Itik is the original Rawa village, and the other two were formed by villagers who branched out.
The Rawas are descended from a prince of Johor who had part Orang Kuala ancestry and who settled in the kingdom of Minangkabau which was founded by the Orang Bera or Orang Semelai Aboriginal Malays of Bera at the Pahang and Negeri Sembilan border. He founded the town of Rao, where he started a family with one of the Minangkabau Sultan’s (Yang Dipertuan Besar’s) children.
The Rawa have a special custom called Berjojak. Every child who reaches the age of one has to undergo this ritual before setting foot on land outside his / her home village.
The child’s feet, palms and forehead are smeared with saffron paste and he / she is made to walk on a mat strewn with petals of seven flowers.
A medicine man (dukun or bomoh) performs special prayers for the child’s well-being.
The child walks across the mat thrice and is then bathed in water with a slice of lime in it.
Finally, the child is fed with some chicken in coconut milk (santan).
Malaysians of Rawa ancestry are aplenty and they are found all over the state of Perak.
- Minister of Rural and Regional Development Datuk Seri Aziz Shamsuddin (of Gopeng);
- Reality show Akademi Fantasia’s second season champion Ahmad Zahid Baharuddin (of Teluk Intan);
- Malaysia’s most celebrated cartoonist Datuk Mohamad Noor Khalid or Lat (of Gopeng);
- Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz (of Kuala Kangsar);
- Minister of International Trade and Industry Datuk Seri Rafidah Aziz (of Selama in Taiping);
- Malaysia’s Roy Orbison M. Shariff (of Ipoh);
- Former Chief Secretary to the Cabinet Tan Sri Ahmad Sarji Abdul Hamid (of Tapah);
- Actor-comedian Zami Ismail (of Tapah);
- Actor-comedian Opie Zami (son of Zami);
- Hip-hop siblings Norman, Yusry and Edry Halim or KRU (of Gopeng);
- Islamic Party (PAS) founder Dr Burhanuddin Helmy (of Gopeng);
- Actor-comedian Shamsul Azhar Alaiddin (Shamsul Ghau Ghau) (of Selama);
- Malaysia’s first man in Hollywood the late Ibrahim Pendek (of Taiping);
- Journalists Wahti Mahidin and Jad Mahidin of Tell Magazine (of Parit);
- World War II hero Colonel Yeop Mahidin (father of Wahti and Jad) (of Parit).