23 August 1940  to 27 November 2013

Jami Subramaniam Jami Veera Naidu, always remembered as Jami Maniam was one of those chosen gems who was constantly on the move for the Faith from the day he accepted the Faith during the Ten-Year Crusade period. He had made Bahá’u’lláh and His teachings the centre of his life. Throughout his days his thoughts were centred on how the Faith needed to be served. His noble, concentrated, and exemplary efforts in the teaching field are forever graven upon the pages of history in Malaysia.

Young Jami is seated at right, with relatives

Jami accepted the Bahá’í Faith in 1957 in Malacca, together with Maniam Muthaiah or fondly known as “Penghulu Maniam” who were students at the Methodist School in Malacca. They were active church-going members and almost became baptized when the Healing Message of Bahá’u’lláh wafted over them. Following a thorough investigation by reading and attending firesides, they accepted the Faith, and there was no turning back. Jami exerted all his energies in serving and the Cause. One major turning point at the very early stage was the first Bahá’í summer school held in December 1957 in Malacca. The presence of some fifty believers from some parts of Malaya and Singapore, and the participation of Hand of the Cause of God Dr. Raḥmatu’lláh Muhájir had a profound effect in his soul, that led to his confirmation and conviction in the Faith. In the early years, he had the priceless privilege of basking under the guidance of other visiting Hands of the Cause such as Mr. Ṭaráẓu’lláh Samandarí, Mr. Abu’l-Qásim Faizi, Miss Agnes Alexander, Mr. Shu’á’u’lláh `Alá’í and Amatu’l-Bahá Rúhíyyih Khánum, followed by other Hands in the later years. Filled with absolute admiration for these Hands, he committed to memory some of their words of guidance and related to the friends throughout his Bahá’í life.

Jami never missed any local gathering held in Malacca town during his bachelor days starting with the first Bahá’í summer school of 1957.  Jami attended all other summer schools and gatherings held in Malacca, or elsewhere in the country including regional conferences.  To most of these Bahá’í activities, he would take his entire family. One could not say that Jami missed very few conferences in his Bahá’í life. One would go to any conference and meet  Jami there.

The Sunday Classes conducted for the youths at the Malacca High School in 1958 too had assisted much in adding his knowledge of the Faith. The classes were conducted ably by Kumara Das, Anthony Louis, and Saurajen, for whom Jami always showed his gratitude.  He was further nurtured into the Faith by the late Leong Tat Chee, whom Jami considered his Bahá’í mentor.

Sunday Class at Malacca High School, 1958. Teachers are seated (L-R) Anthony Louis, Lena Saurajen, G. Saurajen, and Kumara Das.  Back row – standing at the extreme left is Jami Subramaniam, fourth from left is Errol Seow Hoon Hin, fifth from left is Leong Ho San, sixth from left is Purushothman Nair

In the early days when Jami had accepted the Faith, he was going through untold difficulties. Unable to do anything else, Jami went to see Leong Tat Chee. The advice and guidance that Leong Tat Chee gave Jami sank deep into his heart. After carefully listening to his story, Leong Tat Chee told Jami, “When we undergo problems we have to go to the root of the problem to see if they are tests from God or are the results of our own making. If you are convinced that it is a test from God, I am sure you know that suffering and tests are part and parcel of Bahá’í life. Once you become a Bahá’í you may escape anything, but you can never escape the tests. We have the assurance that tests are meant for our own spiritual growth, and we are aware that God tests only those whom He loves most. If I were you I would pray for strength to face and overcome the tests. On the other hand, if this is the result of your own making, then you have to meditate if your deeds could have made Bahá’u’lláh unhappy. Only your conscience would tell you if you have committed any sin. You need not confess to me, as confession of sin is not allowed in the Faith. If you feel you had done something to upset Bahá’u’lláh you can always beg with all your heart to seek His forgiveness and remember Bahá’u’lláh is the forgiver of the most grievous of sins. Put your whole reliance in Bahá’u’lláh and serve Him more than before and He will assuredly come to your relief with all His Infinite Mercy.”  After getting this explanation from Leong Tat Chee, Jami went home with a relieved heart. Thereafter Jami would always seek the root of any problem that came by in his life and act in accordance with the advice of Leong Tat Chee. And that was the advice of Leong Tat Chee, that Jami would give almost word for word to others seeking his advice during their moments of heedlessness.

Having sought shelter under Leong Tat Chee, Jami undertook several teaching trips with him in the state of Malacca and Negeri Sembilan. As Jami would recall later the conversations with Leong Tat Chee in those trips were nothing but deepening sessions. Leong Tat Chee himself loved Jami, and throughout the time when the former was active, he kept sending Jami postcards with lovely Bahá’í quotations.

Since the day he accepted the Faith, Jami was an active promoter of the Faith and was always obsessed with teaching. At any given opportunity he found ways and means of promoting the Bahá’í teachings. All who knew Jami had known him as a Bahá’í, as he would introduce himself as a Bahá’í and hand out Bahá’í pamphlets which he always carried with him.

On completion of his studies, Jami joined government service in the Ministry of Public Works. In  1963, Jami was posted to Merlimau town in the state of  Malacca as Timekeeper with the Public Works Department. It was in that year that with the initiative of Jami the first Local Spiritual Assembly of Merlimau was elected, with Jami serving as  Chairman of the Assembly.  While there he took an active part in promoting the Cause, including organizing the first Chinese fireside in the Merlimau Chinese Library on 29 August 1963. He invited  Leong Tat Chee as the speaker and the latter was very impressed with the proactive role Jami was playing. On many occasions, he used to be the prime mover of activities and did not hesitate to undertake teaching trips even when there was no one to accompany him on such trips. He was always an independent teacher of the Faith.

Yet one more area of service was bringing the Faith to the aboriginal people in the jungles of Malaya in the company of Leong Tat Chee.  In the early 1960s, the Seremban Bahá’í  Centre was a hive of activities. Jami attended almost all Bahá’í  activities held in the Seremban  Bahá’í  Centre.  He supported the activities of the Seremban Bahá’ís, especially in field teaching.

In 1964, he was transferred to the neighboring town of Rompin, this time as a Technician with Public Works Department. There too Jami initiated the forming of a Local Spiritual  Assembly, and an Assembly was elected on Ridván that year with Jami holding the position of Chairman. Sadly with Jami moving into Rompin, the Assembly in Merlimau faced a setback only to show the lead Jami had taken in that community.  From Rompin, he was actively moving into many parts of Negeri Sembilan for teaching activities.

From the very early days, Jami was very fond of local and international Bahá’í gatherings as he felt that such gatherings not only generated much spirit but were also instrumental in infusing much knowledge on the Faith. Jami had never missed any national convention, starting with the first convention in 1964.

In whatever Jami did, he always wanted to reflect the teachings of the Faith. He married Miss Subbamah who accepted the Faith through her brother G. Appala Naidu in 1964. Appala Naidu himself accepted the Faith through Jami in 1964 when the former was a trainee teacher. When deciding to get married to Miss Subbamah,  Jami ensured he had a full Bahá’í wedding. There was strong opposition from some family members and relatives for having not having the wedding in accordance with the customs of the community he came from.  While facing them with heroic fortitude, Jami never wavered on the Bahá’í law of marriage. The Bahá’í wedding took place at Rompin town on 14 August 1966, with Leong Tat Chee, mentor of Jami conducting the wedding. It was a rare sight for members of the public to see a person from Chinese background conducting the wedding for a couple from an Indian background.  That was one of the earliest Bahá’í weddings in that area which attracted much attention from the non-Bahá’ís in the Kuala Pilah-Rompin belt at a time when Bahá’í marriages were not common. His closest friends such as Mrs. Lily Chinniah from Jasin, Mrs. Lily Ng and Mr. K. Rajah from Seremban town, Mr. Satanam from Port Dickson, and Mr. Vasudevan from Malacca were happily present. Mrs. Subbamah accepted the Faith and became Jami’s strongest supporter in all Bahá’í activities, often following him for teaching activities, and returning past midnight. Throughout their lives, Jami and his wife provided the best hospitality to visitors. There could be not a single visitor who would leave their house without partaking of some meal.

Leong Tat Chee conducting the wedding of Jami. Seated at the extreme left is Satanam and to the extreme right is K. Rajah. Vasudevan stands at the extreme left

At the Leong Tat Chee Bahá’í  Institute, Bukit Baru, Malacca

Jami took much liking for the Bahá’í visitors, particularly for all the Hands of the Cause of God who visited Malaysia. Jami had never missed the visit by any Hand of the Cause to Malaysia. In 1965, Mr. Hushmand Fatheazam, then a member of the Universal House of Justice visited the Bahau area. As Jami was the only one who had full knowledge of the entire area and was well equipped with transport means, the Bahá’ís sought his assistance in informing the believers of the imminent visit by Mr. Fatheazam.  He single-handedly went around on his white and blue coloured Lambretta scooter informing the Bahá’ís about his visit. Only a handful of them came to the visit by Hushmand Fatheazam in Ladang Geddes. The angry Jami Maniam was fuming with madness, “If I go around telling them that a film show is to be screened in the estate, all will come in full force. But if I say an important person is coming, they could not be bothered.”  It was Jami’s nature to always take Bahá’í matters very personally to his heart, and he took full ownership and responsibility as well.

Hushmand-Fatheazam in Ladang Geddes Estate, 1965. Back Row: Nagendran, Allan Chai, Lingam, Kaniappan, Jami-Maniam and  Isaac D’Cruz. Seated L-R: Paul Appadurai, Yankee Leong, Hushmand Fatheazam, K. Rajah and Sabapathy.

Bahá’í Gathering in Kuala Pilah, February, 1966. Squatting extreme left is Jack Tan, and squatting extreme right is late Sabapathy. Seated extreme left is R. Mariappan, at centre is K. Rajah followed by Lily Ng and  Steven Manoharan to his right. Jami  is standing fifth from left, G.A. Naidu seventh from left. Satanam standing in white right in the centre. Nagendran is standing thirteenth from left.

Jami carried out teaching activities in the most meticulous ways.  Jami was a strong believer in harvesting to the maximum in any receptive area. From Rompin town he used to travel to the estates around almost daily to teach and consolidate. He believed that teaching and consolidation must go hand in hand. His deepening tool was the book  Bahá’u’lláh and the New Era.

Whenever he entered any plantation settlement or estate for teaching activities, he made it a point to pay a courtesy call upon the estate managers to appraise them of the teachings. That wise approach which he learnt from Hand of the Cause of God Dr. Muhájir was to diffuse any possible opposition and to respect the management. Having won their support, he would next meet the labourers in their quarters. This was the kind of carefully planned and wise teaching method he employed with great wisdom, through which possible opposition at the management was averted.

Jami knew the timing as well when teaching in the estates. He would enter the estates in the evenings on his Lambretta in the evenings when the youths would have just completed their football games. He would then gather them around and teach the Faith. When they accepted the Faith, he would identify some promising youths and request them to open up the neighbouring estates, even though their knowledge of the Faith was superficial. When they showed hesitation, he would tell them, “Pray and say whatever comes to your heart.”  He would then encourage the youths to organise children’s classes in the estates using children’s class materials that Dr. Muhájir had left behind in the hands of early believers. Once there was a sizeable number of believers, Jami would encourage holding of Nineteen Day Feasts, and he himself would be present in those Feasts. Jami personally ensured that following the acceptance of the Faith, the new believers were immediately engaged in attending Nineteen Day Feasts, as a starting point in nurturing them into maturity.

Jami in the Bukit Tinggi estate in 1966

Meanwhile, in 1965 the National Spiritual Assembly of Malaysia sent out a letter to the Malaysian Bahá’í community on the urgent need for carrying out mass teaching.  Jami responded immediately. Within a short period of time, mass teaching was reported in the Kuala Pilah-Rompin-Bahau area, where Jami was carrying out aggressive teaching activities. By the later part of the 1960s, Jami had emerged as one of the strongest pillars of the Bahá’í community of Malaysia, earning the appreciation of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’í s of Malaysia. A circular from the National Spiritual Assembly to the Local Spiritual Assemblies in Malaysia dated 10 February 1967 quotes a letter from Jami as follows “With joyful hearts we wish to inform you that we have 236 believers in all of Kuala Pilah area. God willing, we will fulfill Negeri Sembilan’s target of 500 new believers, which was given by the NSA’s 18 Month Plan. Request prayers.”

In 1966,  Jami took the Faith to the Orissa-speaking people in Negeri Sembilan state. The Orissa are the people who had come from the Odissa state in India to work in the plantations in Malaysia, with a very high concentration of them in the state of Negeri Sembilan. Jami gave the Faith to the Orissa people in Bukit Tinggi Estate near Rompin town.   Soon there were some ten believers there and Jami deepened them in the Faith, including Mr. Ongkodoh Samu,  working in the management of the Bukit Tinggi and his two other brothers Mukundo and Srepathy. Jami as one who would use new believers to establish new contacts took Ongkodoh to the Batu Bersawah Division of the Jerampadang Estate. Many Orissa people accepted the Faith here. Jami was assisted by other believers in developing the Faith in these places.  The time came when in the Batu Bersawah Division, the Nineteen Day Feasts were held with grand dinners. They were so strong in the Faith that they abstained from working on Naw-Rúz days while those practicing the Hindu religion went to work, and on the Hindu holy day of Diwali (Deepavali), the Hindus would abstain from work while the Bahá’ís went for work.

Jerampadang Estate had three Divisions- the Batu Bersawah Division, the Kepis Division, and the Hospital Division. Jami also took the Faith to the Kepis and the Hospital Divisions as well and the Faith came to be well established in all these Divisions. The management of the Kepis Division gave a separate building, a cretch, to be used for Bahá’í activities.  Hand of the Cause of God Dr. Muhájir who saw this area as very receptive to the Cause had also visited this area in 1967. When Hand of the Cause of God Mr. A. Q. Faizi wished to visit an estate area in his visit to Malaysia in December 1968, the National Spiritual Assembly of Malaysia arranged for him to visit the Kepis Division of the Estate where the Faith was well established.

Hand of the Cause of God Mr. Faizi garlanded and welcomed at the entrance to the hall in the Jerampadang Kepis Division, December 1968.

In 1967, Jami reported to the National Spiritual Assembly that estate communities in the Rompin area had recorded almost full attendance at the Feasts.  Jami took out his own money to sponsor several youths to go for conferences to get them deepened in the Cause and to gain the Bahá’í spirit. In those days Bahau town in Negeri Sembilan was the main town where large-scale gatherings were commonly held. In 1967, members of the National Teaching Committee met in Bahau for a conference where more than 70 friends had gathered. At this gathering, Jami, as Chairman of the conference spoke with enthusiasm on the growth of the Faith in the area. Jami remained an active believer in Rompin from 1965-1969.

Jami was a firm believer in proclaiming the Faith by celebrating Bahá’í holy days. At a time when very few homes were opened for Naw-Rúz celebrations, Jami took extra efforts in celebrating Naw-Rúz of 1968 on a grand scale with a tea party followed by dinner for 80 people. This event was published as national news in the Nineteen Day Feast Newsletter of the national institution.

While in Negeri Sembilan, Jami concentrated on bringing the Cause to the Telugu-speaking people, with Jami himself well versed in this mother tongue.   Jami joined Rama Naidu and G. Appala Naidu in bringing a large number of those from the Telugu-speaking community in Negeri Sembilan state into the Faith.  These three worked as a team and at times as individuals, taking responsibilities for different areas of the state of Negeri Sembilan.

From Rompin, Jami left for the neighbouring town of Kuala Pilah in 1969. His transfer added to the strength of the community in Kuala Pilah town. The year 1969 became a turning point in his service to the Cause. At the end of that year, Mr. Raymond Peter from Malacca was leaving for pioneering to Sri Lanka with his wife Joan and wanted to hand over the management of his family’s typewriter business to a Bahá’í. Peter approached Jami and explained the urgent situation. Jami was holding a secured government job that provided good perks, prestige, and stability and a would provide good pension upon his retirement.  But looking into the earnest request of a believer who was going off to pioneer, Jami resigned from his well-paid and respected government job with the Public Works Department. And Jami left the state of Negeri Sembilan for Kuala Lumpur, after leaving traces that were to be remembered forever.

In taking over the management of Peter’s family business, Jami sacrificed all his perks but took consolation that he was able to support a fellow believer to pioneer. Not knowing the tricks and trades in business, he had to start from scratch in the new and unknown business territory. With that Jami moved into the Kampong Pandan area in Kuala Lumpur at the end of 1969. Jami managed the business for Peter and built it up to a higher level. During the times Jami lived in Kuala Lumpur, he served on the Local Spiritual Assembly of Kuala Lumpur and became an active member of the community.

Regional Bahá’í Youth Convention held in the National Bahá’í Centre in Setapak, Kuala Lumpur in September 1970. Jami is squatting second from right

Visit by Hand of the Cause of God Mr. Enoch Olinga to the National Bahá’í Centre in Setapak, Kuala Lumpur, January 1971. Jami is squatting at the extreme left

Local Spiritual Assembly of Kuala Lumpur, 1973. Standing L-R: A. P. Arumugam, Machamboo, Govindasamy and Jami Maniam. Seated L-R: Suguna Arumugam, Lily Chinniah, Dr. M. M. Sreenivasan, Yaw Kam Sim, C. Kanagaratnam

When Peter returned to Malaysia in 1973, Jami handed over the business to him and was looking for a livelihood.  Jami then moved into the town of Kajang in 1975 where he had to be on his own.  The only skill he had in his hands was the servicing of typewriters. He then started a typewriter servicing business under the name of Zarina Enterprise, named after his eldest daughter. This business took him to many governments and private offices in central Malaysia. And his car was loaded with Bahá’í pamphlets and literature to be distributed to his clients.

At a time when Jami moved into Kajang, this community was struggling to thrive. That was predominantly a Tamil-speaking community with Jami and a handful of others who had knowledge of the English language. Bahá’í literature was not widely and readily available in the Tamil language. Jami saw the situation and took upon himself the task of deepening the Tamil-speaking believers in Kajang and other several rural communities in the peripherals. It was in Kajang that Jami became the key motivator for more than 30 years. He emerged as a prime figure in promoting the cause in nearby estates and small towns. When there was no Bahá’í  Centre in Kajang, he offered his house for Bahá’í activities. His house became a default Bahá’í  Centre. Even when a few houses were rented to be used as a Bahá’í Centre, friends continued to gather in the home of Jami for activities.

Jami in his office of ZARINA ENTERPRISE in Kajang

Since the Local Spiritual Assembly in Kajang was still in its nascent form, Jami found it his duty to take upon himself the task of protecting the image of the Cause by weeding out unwanted elements in the community. Somehow  Jami Maniam was gifted with an uncanny knack for detecting trouble in advance and acted accordingly. He ensured to keep the institutions informed of such difficult situations.

Likewise, he took upon himself the vital duty of deepening the believers into maturity. At the Feasts and holy days, he would give talks on their significance, and get the local believers to read prayers, and passages from the writings. As the Local Spiritual Assembly matured, this protection of the Cause was passed on to this divine institution.

Jami was one of those very few having cars in the early days. He had a Mazda station wagon in which he would provide transport for those who needed transport for Bahá’í activities. For local activities, Jami would make a few trips before the event to bring the believer to the Bahá’í Centre and send them home after the event each time. And Jami was always the last to return home and retire to bed. He had taken many to conferences held in other parts of the country.

Whenever Bahá’í projects needed funding, Jami used to empty his pockets, and if needed even sought loans, often without the knowledge of others. He ensured the needs of the Faith were above his own personal needs. If there was one person on whom the community could count on during moments of heedlessness, it was invariably Jami. He was always there for the believers whenever they faced great difficulties. He was always there to provide assistance for all family functions and was about the earliest to arrive when someone passed away. Jami was the greatest consolation for the individuals and community.

When the community decided to take up projects, Jami was the foremost supporter who was in the frontline. Whenever any goal was given by the national institution of committees, he was almost the first to start implementing them, as a very strong supporter of the institutions. From the time the national institution purchased a piece of land in the nearby town of Balakong to be used as a training centre, Mr. Appu Raman, followed by Jami were entrusted along with others in developing it. Jami and Mr. Steven Chang Sin teamed up to develop the property in their overflowing love for the national institution. Steven bought a piece of land near the site and built his home there to be at the site almost every day. Jami on his part involved many believers in his Kajang community to work in the property in the spirit of universal participation. He would assign each individual the tasks to be carried out and inform them on what equipment and cleaning tools to be brought along. He got all members of his family involved as well. On several weekends the family used to pack their meals and set out early in the morning to Balakong to clear the land, with the neighbours guessing they were out for a picnic.   Jami himself was there with others each week, and sometimes each day to clear the terrain. He carried out his duties energetically and with great commitment and dedication to maintain the property that was later named Yankee Leong Training Institute. Whenever major gatherings were planned to be held, Jami ensured he went to the site to ensure water, electricity, parking, and bedding facilities were in place. This building became a centre of many gatherings that included summer schools, deepening sessions, visits by members of the Supreme Body, and national conventions.

Numerous were the projects of the community when Jami gave his fullest support, at times pouring out financial assistance to ensure that the projects became a huge success. Some of the landmark events in the community where members took pride were the staging of the first professional drama in the Tamil language entitled the Seven Martyrs of Tehran in 1990, and the staging of another similar drama on Táhirih in 1992, both in the Yankee Leong Training Institute. Yet one more landmark project was the cassette recording of  Bahá’í devotional songs in the Tamil language during the same period. In these and similar other projects, Jami was deeply committed, highly emotional and emptied his pockets quietly to ensure their huge success. In the teaching projects too, Jami was on the frontline. He joined the friends to take the Cause to some far-off places and return past midnight. Jami was also the strongest supporter and stoutest defender of the Local Spiritual Assembly. He had served in several national and regional committees. Jami was the longest-serving Chairman of the Regional Teaching Committee of Selangor state starting from the 1970s. For a brief period, he had served as Assistant to an Auxiliary Board member.

Jami’s life was filled with Bahá’í activities and yet interspersed with health issues.  It was in the late 1970s that he developed high blood pressure and was admitted into hospitals several times. Despite his ailment, he continued to serve the Cause, sadly neglecting his health. In 1980, the Supreme Body urged the National Spiritual Assembly of Malaysia to assist in the rebuilding of the Bahá’í community in Myanmar. In April 1980 the first team was sent to Myanmar. Jami joined this team despite his failing health. Yet in Myanmar, he was teaching the believers with full strength and vigour of an ably bodied youth. There was an old unused cyclostyling kept in the Bahá’í Centre of Yangon for years. As soon as Jami’s eyes fell on that machine on the day of his arrival in Yangon, he spent a few hours repairing it to usable condition. The local believers started using the machine with great happiness, and circulars started to be produced.

Providing hospitality to visitors was one area in which Jami and his wife excelled. There could be no visitor who would have walked out of their home without any meal, however simple it could have been. There were times when they were subjected to much criticism for providing great hospitality, but that did not diminish their spirit continuing with an activity that genuinely pleased their hearts. At a time when home visits were not institutionalized, Jami and his wife made it a point to visit isolated believers and give them strength by conducting deepening classes. The couple had taken this as their personal goal. Numerous had been the friends who were quickened by such gestures. The couple also initiated the family-exchange program, in which they would invite children from other families to stay with them during school holidays. Their children would go over to the other families during the next holiday season. Many children were nurtured in this way, including the children of the late Mr. Gopal of the Dengkil community. The last major gathering the couple attended together was the Second Bahá’í World Congress held in New York in November 1992.

From the time Jami resigned from the government service in 1969, he started off well in his business. Towards the end, Jami could not manage the typewriter servicing business as most of his clients had switched from traditional typewriters to desktop computers. With the failing business, Jami ventured into a few other businesses which too did not work out too well. Yet he spent time going through the Writings to console himself. He was a collector of Bahá’í books and an avid reader himself. But never for once did he flinch in serving the Cause. The couple ensured Naw-Rúz, and all the Holy Days were celebrated each year without fail until two years before Jami himself was immobilised when he was bedridden from a stroke. The couple used the celebration of Holy Days as proclamation events by inviting their friends.

With Jack Davis in the middle and Jeyenthan at the Yankee Leong Bahá’í Institute, Balakong, 1989. Jack Davis was in Malaysia  to conduct spiritualisation courses

He was a very creative person from the early days, venturing into many areas including fish-breeding and farming. There was a brief period when Jami sold cars of Continental making with Japanese engines. Jami and a few believers with modest income were thus enabled to own cars with bodies of Jaguar and Mercedes Benz. Jami himself went for a Jaguar car with which he was able to take the Cause to some sectors highly and eminently placed in society. He knew the way into higher society was through the way those in those societies desired.

Jami sought the advice of elders in the Faith, one of them, Dr. Chellie John Sundram whenever needed. Once Dr. Chellie stayed in a hotel in Kajang town and phoned Jami to come over to the hotel, where they spoke till past midnight. Dr. Sundram, apart from discussing the future progress of the Cause in Kajang, advised him on how to handle difficult persons and difficult situations. He then spoke on the strategy for Jami to employ in his overcoming his business dealings which witnessed a financial reversal. Dr. Sundram had advised Jami to give preference to cash dealings, rather than running his business on credits. Dr. Sundram had said that “It is better to get M$ 20.00 in cash than getting a post-dated cheque for M$ 200.00”. It was through this advice that Jami was able to reduce and finally set off his huge business debts, for which Jami remained grateful to Dr. Sundram. Jami was a good painter but decided to exert his energy for the promotion of the Cause on the advice of his close friend Counsellor Dr. Chellie Sundram, himself a great painter.

Close friends at the premises of the Yankee Leong Bahai Institute, 1992.  L-R: Auxiliary Board member Mrs. Shantha Sundram, Mr. S. Satanam, Jami Maniam, and Dr. Chellie J. Sundram

It was the negligence of his health that ultimately led to Jami being rushed by ambulance and hospitalised several times. In 2004, Jami had a major stroke and was rushed to hospital. He developed impairment in walking and doctors had given up hope. But Jami, as a man of strong willpower fought through and walked out of the hospital, with the doctors blinking away. It did not take long before he started to slow down in activities. He was once again bedridden following repeated incidents of stroke in 2008. He recovered in 2009 and as soon he was mobile again, he was bent on fulfilling his lifelong desire- to go on pilgrimage. Jami went for pilgrimage, together with his wife from 24 May to 2 June 2010, and returned home with a sigh of great relief that he had achieved his heart’s desire. It did not take long before Jami was once again bedridden for over the next two years, with his wife and children taking care of him. There was a continuous flow of visitors ranging from the believers of the 1950s right to the current generation from across the country. Having completely lost his speech, Jami used sign language requesting visitors to pray for his early departure to the next world.

He passed away peacefully in sleep on 27 November 2013 and was laid to rest at the Bahá’í  Memorial Park in Seremban, following a befitting memorial service.  His wife was abroad in India when Jami passed away. She was catering to the needs of Jami continuously until her own health was very badly affected. The children, fearing her failing health condition, persuaded with great difficulties, and sent her away to India for some rest, promising that they would take over the responsibilities of caring for him in her absence. At the time of his passing, she could not be contacted despite several efforts. The children with the assistance of the Local Spiritual Assembly of Hulu Langat, and some relatives gave this great worker of the Cause a befitting burial at the Bahá’í cemetery in Seremban. It was only upon the arrival of Mrs. Subbamah at the airport that was the children informed her of the passing of her late husband by her children. Despite receiving the unexpected and shocking news, she tried to remain calm and enquired if her late husband was given a befitting and memorable funeral. She broke down to tears once she set foot into the empty house. She was completely devastated by that great loss and refused to meet any visitors over the next remaining days of her life. She herself passed away on 12 February 2018 following a short period of suffering from a terminal illness.

Throughout his life, he devised personal goals, often without much publicity, and when needed, kept only the institutions informed. Whenever he learnt of the sufferings of fellow believers he not only visited them uninvited but offered assistance and prayed for them until their problems were resolved or mitigated. His greatest happiness was to see the success of Bahá’í projects. In his association with youths, he always insisted on a high rectitude of conduct and character, and he tried his very best not to compromise in Bahá’í morals, although at moments he could have faced his own challenges. Whenever those downtrodden visited him to pour out their problems, Jami would quote from the Writings and advise and guide them from the tenets of the Faith.

He was often outspoken and hard-hitting too, all for caring for the good image of the Faith. But deep inside, Jami was a very warm person. There was no reported incident of Jami losing his temper. His love for the Faith was so immense and boundless that he wished to identify everything he did was associated with the Faith. One was the registration number of his car. In 1972 N. S. S. Silan, a member of the National Spiritual Assembly of Malaysia, on learning that the registration number of “BAB 1844” was coming up soon, booked the number for his own car through the Road Transport Department of Malaysia. When Silan won the bid,  he had to leave for travel teaching to Africa at the end of 1972. Silan then asked around if anyone was interested in having that registration number plate, and Jami immediately rushed forward with all eagerness, grabbed it with great pride and overwhelming joy, and installed it onto his own Datsun car. After each drive in the car, Jami washed the registration plates in the front and rear of the car and maintained its cleanliness, not the entire body of the car as such.  His arrival in that car at conferences became a sight to behold, and friends gathered around him and the car for obvious reasons. It did not take long before Jami realized that the car registration number was sending out somewhat different kind of signals at gatherings- relating the number plate with The Bab, the Herald of the Bahá’í Faith. Just then, another believer came forward and insisted on the registration number, and Jami passed it to him.

The car with Registration number BAB 1844

Family of Jami. L-R: Shahin, Jami, Mrs. Jami, Rooha, Zanariah, and Zarina

Chinese Teaching Conference in Macau, 1991. L-R: Jami Maniam, T. K. Lee, Francis Ng, Lum  Weng Chew and Yin Tin Shih.  Jami, not on the International Chinese Teaching Committee turned up for the conference

In the 1990s there was a call for Malaysians to go to China. Fired by the overwhelming devotion for the Cause and heeding to the call, Jami sent his only son Rooha as a student pioneer to China. In 1992 and 1993 Rooha studied at Zhongshan University, Guangzhou, and from 1993 to 1995 studied at Sichuan University, Chengdu. In the three years in China, Rooha studied Mandarin.

Jami visits Rooha in Guangzhou, China

The immense love and obedience he had for institutions was something to be admired and emulated by the new generation. Whenever the national institution sent out messages, Jami would further encourage the community to read them and abide by them. Throughout his life, he used to spend hours going through all the communications from the Supreme Body and strained to grasp the meanings of the messages and shared with the local believers during Feasts.

Jami gave all his support to anyone who arose to serve in any capacity, with no trace of any jealousy, hate, or envy. There was no fear on the part of Jami Maniam of someone else outshining him as Jami always considered himself lowly among the servants of God. Yet he would push people with the capacity to exert their talents to the maximum.

Pilgrimage, a life-long desire finally fulfilled at the end of his life in 2010

Jami at his last days, when still able to converse with visitors

Thus ended the life of Jami, worn out and burnt out with constant and continuous energy fully exerted in promoting the Cause he loved and served. The life of Jami has been well spent, basking throughout his earthly days under the shelter of the Blessed Beauty. He loved and served the Faith to the best possible ability. He tried to give the best and prime part of his life to the Cause of God. He may have had his own shortcomings, like any other believer. The greatness of this believer was that he ensured the tests and tribulations he went through in no way interfered with the constant and inspiring service. He has certainly left some indelible traces in his own way of loving and serving the Faith, which is already acknowledged by the old-time believers. Jami was one who would carry out a task, however difficult it may appear once he had made up his mind. He always had a never-say-no attitude towards work that needed to be achieved. Throughout his life, Jami had a kind of missionary zeal and a resolute determination in achieving anything he wanted for the Faith. His legacy shall forever remain intact and endure in the deepest recesses of our hearts. Jami has set good examples in many ways which are sure to be emulated by generations yet to be born.

Resting Place of Jami Maniam at the Bahá’í  Memorial Park, Seremban

A. Manisegaran

30 November 2021


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  1. Dear Mr. Manisegaran

    Thank you very much for sharing this wonderful story of Mr. Jami Maniam. I had known him from distance and knew him to be an active believer. But reading your story I was able to get to understand with greater depths the real Jami Maniam. This is the first time his life story has been penned to the fullest and left for posterity to benefit. What a dedicated life he had led, and what an example he had set. He had truly influenced many others in serving the Cause of Bahaullah with stronger determination and dedication.

    He and his legacy shall always be examples for me to emulate.

    Satish Satio

  2. Dear Uncle Manisegaran,

    This very moving story of Uncle Jami Maniam is very dear to my soul since he had played an important role in the Bahá’í life of my family members, including my own self.

    I would say I accepted Bahá’u’lláh right from my childhood days though I did not officially register in any declaration card as a Bahá’í. I grew up in a strict Hindu family. I was a faithful follower of my grandfather, the late Mr. Murugan.

    However, by the Will of God, in between I was raised and fed the knowledge of Bahá’u’lláh by the two spiritual fathers – Mr. Veerappan and Mr. Shanmugam. They are none other than my father’s brothers who were the firstBahá’ís in my family. I realized today how much their efforts had on me from my childhood days, that paved the path towards recognizing Bahá’u’lláh

    They went through a hard time from my grandfather Murugan as well my father the late Mr. Ramasamy. The two were not allowed to enter the home after becoming Bahá’ís. My grandfather had chased off my uncle, Mr. Veerappan with a knife. Around the 1970s we had a Bahá’í house in that estate where I lived. I used to run to that Bahá’í house when I was a little girl. The Bahá’í eyes of my spiritual fathers must have captured my movements. I used to bring Bahá’í prayer book to the Hindu temple and pray secretly.

    At a young age I waited for my birthday. Upon reaching 15 years of age, I craved for the Declaration Card, and signed up as a believer. After becoming a Bahá’í I always felt some emptiness since my parents were notBahá’ís. One day in 1980s when I was a teenage girl, Baha’u’llah fulfilled my heart’s desires in His own way by sending three Bahá’ís to my home in Dunedin Estate. They were Uncles Jami Maniam, Ramiah and Pappiah who made special teaching trips to my home. My father saw the beauty in of the Bahá’í Faith and has accepted the Faith. It was Uncle Jami who took the greatest efforts in deepening my family. At this junction, I thank Uncle Jami and his team for all the efforts in meeting up my parents. Today we live as a Bahá’í family. Not forgetting to mention here my grandpa Mr. Murugan who had chased Mr. Veerappan with a knife too has accepted the Faith before his last breath. What a change in heart, he was given a Bahá’í funeral and laid to rest in the Bahá’í Memorial Park, Seremban.

    My first typewriter was bought from his Zarina Enterprise after becoming the Secretary of the Local Spiritual Assembly. Always felt happy to visit him in his office which was adorned with Bahai articles and pictures.

    I used to drive him to Cheras are to do our Ruhi Books. I was the youngest adult in the group. I learnt a lot from him during the drive.

    He was always very frank and sharp in words, though his heart was so magnanimous.
    Before his passing, when he was very sick, I had a good talk with him. He told me to this effect, “Thavamani I will be going off soon. Tell me what I should tell Baha’u’llah when I meet Him about your life or any unhappiness you may have.” His thoughts and concerns for others even at the last hours were so amazing.

    Certainly, he is at peace now in the company of all those great souls.

    Thank you dear Uncle Manisegaran for your tireless efforts in digging out the gems from the Bahá’í community who had made us all proud through their services. I read each of your postings and all have touched my heart. Yet I am moved to tears when reading the story of Uncle Jami as I knew him personally.

    Thavamani Ramasamy

  3. Mani,

    I just read the full text of your wonderful, eloquent, and meticulous write up on the life and times of our good friend Mr. Jamie Maniam. Superb portrayal of his relentless service in the Cause of God. Highly inspiring, heart moving historical work has been well captured. Great job.

    Without doubt he is one of the steadfast and active believers and teachers of the Faith in the early days of the Faith in Malaysia. I had known him for his firm and unwavering faith in the Cause. Deep in him was humility of a loving soul. He has definitely left his footprints in the sands of time in the service of the Blessed Beauty.

    A real good work my good friend Manisegaran.
    God bless you always.

    Professor Dr. Ananthan Krishnan

  4. Dear Brother Manisegaran

    Thank you for writing about Mr. Jami Maniam. Mr Appu Raman and Mr Jami are among those who deepened many of us in the Faith at a time when we were new believers.

    I was a caretaker of the Yankee Leong Bahai Institute for many years. I can say with confidence that Jami had done so much for the development of the landscape of the Institute, together with Steven Chang. In the early days Jami used to take a large group of believers from the Kajang area to clear the land. If anyone wants to write the history of the Faith in Malaysia, his name cannot be left out.

    Villaian Chinniah

  5. Dear Brother Manisegaran

    Thank you brother for the beautiful write up of our dear Jami Maniam. I have met him a couple to times. Always greatly inspired to read about the history of early believers such as dear Jami Maniam who had rendered great services for the Faith. It is through their dedication and devotion to the Cause of God, that many souls have arisen to serve. Jami was one of those motivators whose influence still permeate in these days in which we are living.

    Kuala Terengganu

  6. Well done Mani for another great work of accounting the life of another great soul in Malaysia who dedicated his entire life to teaching and serving our beloved Bahá’í Faith. Praying for Uncle Jami’s soul to enjoy a smooth sail in all the Worlds of God.

    Sathya Narayan
    Subang Jaya

  7. Dear Mani,

    When I came for travel teaching in Malaya from late 1962 to early 1964, I do not remember meeting Jami Maniam. In 1963 I was away in Sarawak. Yet reading the story of Jami Maniam, I was happy to learn that he had been well connected and associating himself with the same persons with those with whom I was associated. Among them were dear friends Satanam, Isaac DCruz, S. Vasudevan, and Yankee Leong, Leong Tat Chee, Sabapathy) within Malaya. Others from outside Malaya with whom Jami and I had been independently moving with were the Hands of the Cause of God like Dr. Muhajir, Mr. Faizi and Olinga, and member of the Supreme Body at that time Mr. Fatheazam. In that sense Jami and I were on the same page.

    I was most inspired by Jami’s participation in estate teaching activities in Negeri Sembilan, and by seeing a photo of the article in which Jami was having conversation with M. Maniam with whom I did teaching-consolidation work in Kapit, Sarawak, was so gratifying. Beholding through the several other historical photos I could feel the strong and well-organized loving Malaysian Bahá’í community.

    This story on Jami Maniam’s outstanding and tireless services to the precious Faith and to the Malaysian people inspired and transported me to Southeast Asia.
    May the Almighty bless both the Maniams -Penghulu Maniam and Jami Maniam and accept their selfless and sacrificial services for His pleasure.

    Bijan Bayzaee

  8. It is gratifying to read about yet another veteran soldier of the Army of Light of Baha’u’llah.

    Jami Maniam had devoted his life to the service of the Cause of God since 1957 at the early stages of the development of the Faith in Malaysia. Maniam’s devotion to the establishment and promotion of the Cause in Malaysia and overseas particularly in playing a significant role in deepening, consolidating, and strengthening the foundation of the Cause of God in Myanmar is exemplary and praiseworthy.

    The fact that Maniam had the bounty of interactions with many Hands of the Cause of God and nurturing under their loving care and the spiritual insight of his earlier believers such as Yankee Leong and Leong Tat Chee are a lesson for the younger generation to follow and emulate in the path of service. Maniam realized that the only things that he could take with him weren’t his material possessions and material achievements but his earned spiritual virtues. I am sure he is richly rewarded in the Abha Kingdom

    Kind regards,
    Dr. Firaydun Mithaq
    Chiang Mai,

  9. My memory of Jami Maniam was always the car registration plate. When I was a student at the Federal Institute of Technology in Petaling Jaya , I remember him frequenting the Bahai Centre of Petaling Jaya whenever he was in the area. At that time he drove his Datsun car bearing registration plate of BAB 1844. He subsequently gave the registration number to Dr. M.M. Sreenivasan which was installed in his white colored Toyota Corona Mark II model.

    Jami was a very nice believer, if only you know him well! The story speaks volumes as a testimony to this.

    Lum Weng Hup
    Subang Jaya

  10. I read the story and remembered those younger days of mine in that beautiful community of Malaysia.

    Uncle Jami Maniam, a very close friend to my parents Mr. and Mrs. Thevar was a very fine believer who loved the Faith and was a faithful servant of Bahaullah. We all enjoyed visits by his family. Uncle Jami’s was a very blessed family that cared and loved the faith deeply.

    Even in those early years we had prayer gatherings and deepening class with family friends. We were all closely knit.

    Shyama Evelyn Thevar
    British Columbia

  11. Thank you again Manisegaran for writing such beautiful stories, the latest being on Jami Maniam. It was so nice to read the beautiful story of Jami Maniam. Whenever he was in Seremban I had the privilege to say hello and spoke with him. I found him a very friendly believer. I also met him few times in the Seremban Bahai Centre and in conferences.

    This beautiful soul had sacrificed his time and energy to promote the Bahai Faith. He will be fondly remembered by the friends, and of course by Bahaullah Himself in the worlds of God the services he had rendered.

    Jenny Wong

  12. Dear Mani
    Thank you for penning on the memorable life of the great Jami Maniam. I knew Jami Maniam from the early days. He was constant and consistent in service. You go to any conference; he was sure to be there. Your story carries so much details that only you could write, as a serious and committed historian.

    He was much respected, loved and admired by my late father Leong Tat Chee, who was Jami’s mentor as you had rightly mentioned. Jami was also a true stalwart and a true Bahai in the strict sense of the word.

    I pray for Jami‘s soul to forever advance in the heavenly realms of God.

    Mary Dharmalingam

  13. Dear Manisegaran,
    You have done it before and have done it again- and again. All your detailed accounts of the early believers are well recorded in the most beautiful way, in a style that is inborn in you.

    You have narrated the life, legacy and contribution of the great Jami Maniam with such details that I was tempted to read it without stopping. He was both a one man army at times and a team worker at other times. Jami has done so much in the development of the Faith in the state of Negeri Sembilan, at times roping in others. Although he had taught the multitudes, he has also concentrated on opening up the Orissa people’s eyes, not forgetting the Telugu speaking people. Pioneers have arisen from both the Telugu and Orissa people.

    Your blog has proven that the Malaysian Bahai community is made up of tons of true workers, many of whom are mentioned for the first time with such details through the stories you write.

    Keep up this great God-given talents, and keep enriching us with more stories.

    Ganavathi Naidu
    Kuala Kerai

  14. Dear Brother Manisegaran

    Thank you for writing all the lovely recollections of our dear friends who have made history. I read through your story on Jami Maniam. In his more than 50 years of life here on earth, he too has created history and laid a path for us to emulate. I pray to be able to emulate the Jami and those others in whatever capacities in the earthly plane.

    Bundan Liban

  15. Jami, O Jami. Thank you for guiding me to the Blessed Beauty!
    It was July 1966, and I was in Form 3, living in Jeram Padang Estate, Hospital Division. I had just returned from school and after lunch was on my way to the main hall of the estate to watch television after which I will go to the field to play football. This was the routine. But I still remember very vividly that afternoon, Jami Maniam had parked his Lambretta motorcycle near the hall and seem to be waiting for someone. I approached him to assist but he said he wanted to tell me something more interesting than the TV shows. He spoke on Progressive Revelation and that Baha’u’llah is the Supreme Manifestation and the Promise One of All Ages. I was immediately convinced as I was always questioning the purpose of so many religions. As I was responsive he asked me to sign the card.

    What is more important and changed my life happened in the next two and a half years. Immediately after signing the card, he told me that I have to teach the Faith to my friends and gave me a ride on his Lambretta and dropped me off in Batu Bersawah Division with pamphlets and declaration cards. For the next two hours I met my school mates. Some declared and that gave me more courage and confidence in teaching the Faith. Together with G.A. Naidu, they paid my bus fare to attend the First Youth Conference in Kajang in 1967, encouraged me to attend Summer Schools in Port Dickson, cycle to attend meetings at the Seremban Baha’i Center, sentme to stay with Mr. Raymond Peter in Jasin town for two weeks to teach in the estates, stay with Nagendran in Kuala Pilah town for 2 weeks to teach in nearby areas, attend deepening classes, etc. It was also during these period that I became involved with teaching the aborigine people in the jungles of Malaysia with Mr. Satanam, Mr. Isaac DCruz and Mr.Vishnupatham. During these visits I met up with many youths from other parts of Malaysia who still remain in touch and share the joy of our youth adventures. All these happened in a compact form from 1966 to 1968.

    What Jami Maniam did for me and many other youths in the Bahau area sustained us and strengthened us as Baha’is. While I did not know the importance of Jami and GA Naidu’s nurturing me and other youths during youth, it has become very evident now why we continue to remain steadfast and firm in the Faith.

    Thank you Manisegaran for guiding and leading us to remember and value the services of those Bahai gems who deserve our praises and prayers.

    C. Kanagaratnam

  16. Thanks, Manisegaran for a great write up on my good friend, Jami. Yes I am one of his many good friends and anybody would love to be a friend of this person who was dependable when called on to serve the Faith or to help out in any situations. Yes he was an avid teacher of the Faith in the estates but for balance in this I would like also to mention his keen interest in teaching the Faith to the Chinese. In 1991 I was surprised to see him attend an international Chinese Pioneering Conference in Macau. He was finding opportunities in pioneering or teaching in China. He did not go to China but later he sent his son to study in China fulfilling his heart desire to teach the Chinese people.

    Lum Weng Chew

  17. Let me start by saying Manisegaran in his usual style must be credited for digging deep into the details of history to pen this biography of Jami Maniam. Manisegaran has time and again proven to be a serious and committed historian gifted to us.

    The story on Jami Mamiam is touching indeed, with so many details, some so minute. Manisegaran has traced his five decades of great services. The challenges he faced during the early days and his commitment to further the growth of the Faith is truly remarkable. The recollections will let the younger generation to be inspired and motivated to emulate Jami Maniam’s footsteps and remember him in their prayers for the progress of his precious soul.


  18. Dear Mani,
    I read about the life and times of Jami. I have heard so much about Jami as a person, but this write up provided an opportunity to read about his services and exploits with meticulous details of time, places and events. Thank you for providing an insight of a man who served the Faith in a remarkable way for more than 5 decades.

    Sandran Govindasamy
    Subang Jaya

  19. Uncle Jami Maniam and his wife were very close to my parents, the late Mr and Mrs Thevar. My first memory of Uncle Jami was when I was a child. I remember him as a quiet and yet serious man.

    I was a kid when we went to India in 1978 for pioneering and young adult when we came back. From the little I had known of them I can say both faithful teachers of the Cause. Aunty Jami as we called her was always smiling and generous. This story has provided me with a fuller background of their services for the Cause. Truly exemplary to many

    Now they are together in the Abha Kingdom. I’m sure they are rejoicing and watching over their loved ones.

    Chitra Thevar

  20. I remember Mr. Jami Maniam very well for all his services for the Cause.

    An event which brought great joy to my heart was when Mr. Jami Maniam and Dr. Sreenivasan conducted a deepening program on Abdul Baha’s Tablets of the Divine Plan in 1979 at Malacca Bahai Centre. That was the first time I met these two stalwarts of the Faith. Now both the valiant souls have taken solace in the loving arms of Bahá’u’lláh.

    Manisegaran has written so much unknown details of Jami Maniam. I am looking forward to a similar write up on other great stalwarts as well.

    Batu Pahat

  21. I read the story on Jami Maniam, a very nice and helpful person. He used to call us Telugu speaking believers whenever there was a need to visit some Telugu speaking families to teach the Faith. It was always a joy to go for teaching with him and to be in his company.

    He is no more with us, yet he is very much remembered and still loved

    Zakiah Muniandy
    Kuala Lumpur

  22. Dear Uncle Manisegaran,

    I was completely filled with many different emotions when reading the life story of my beloved dad which you had penned so meticulously and with so much information which I had not known previously. Reading it made my heart beat faster due to the excitement and surprise elements contained therein.

    At some point, I was also moved to tears as I vividly remember the financial hardship and difficulties of both parents and later the health issues that had taken a toll on them.

    The humble Kajang home was another inspiration and brought sweet memories as we grew up under its roof hosting many Bahai activities and celebrations. Not a single year had my late dad allowed for our home to be closed for Naw-Ruz celebration except in the later years of his illness.

    His untiring and selfless dedication to the faith was another feat. I am so proud that he has touched so many people during his lifetime. May Baha’u’llah shower his absolute mercy and compassion on both my dear loving parents.

    And as for you dear uncle, may you also be blessed graciously for all the effort and dedication poured into all these significant memoirs that you had penned and will continue to do so for current and future generations to be inspired from.

    Rooha Jami

  23. Dear Mani,

    Reading your story on Jami Maniam I came to learn of his passing some years ago in 2013. I am sorry to learn of his demise. I met him many years ago when I was travel teaching in Malaysia. It was the year of Dr. Muhajir at Port Dickson. I met Maniam once or twice. He was a very kindly soul. He was a jewel in the light of the Cause of God. He shall be in our prayers and thank you so much for writing on him.

    God bless the precious country of Malaysia that had such beautiful souls. I stayed with dear Mrs. Sundram. I will never forget Malaysia.

    I am now 88 years old and my husband 91.

    Karin Ferguson

  24. Dear Manisegaran

    Thank you so much for writing a very inspiring write up on our valiant soul, the late Mr. Jami Maniam.

    I did not know much about Jami Maniam on a personal level. I had met him at gatherings and heard nice things about him from others. But it was only after reading your story of him that it dawned upon me of the kind of great services he had rendered the Faith of Baha’u’llah. It is very clear that Jami Maniam’s whole life was dedicated for the Faith. The Faith was everything for him.

    Please keep on sharing with us stories of these wonderful souls for us to be inspired to do more For the Faith.

    Rajamorhan Kandiah

  25. Thank you so much for publishing this wonderful article

    I only had a brief personal interaction with him when he was my Book 4 Tutor, which I will always cherish. This was an intensive Ruhi course in Balakong some years ago. I believe it was during a festive period, most likely the Chinese New Year holidays.

    He had a wealth of stories to share about the early days of the Faith in Malaysia. One unique thing that suddenly came to mind was how he kept a small card with the Tablet to a the Physician printed on it. With full confidence that this was the secret to great health, he brought it up whenever appropriate and showed it to us.

    Arhwin Kalai Chelvan
    Petaling Jaya

  26. I remember Jami Maniam as a student who attended the Sunday Classes that Kumara Das, Saurajen and I conducted at the Malacca High School in 1958. That Sunday School was the first effort in Malaysia. Jami Maniam and Penghulu Maniam who had accepted the Faith in 1957 were among those who constantly attended the classes.

    While Jami started in Malacca, he moved on to Rompin for his first job assignment, but kept returning to Malacca for activities. In later years I used to see him at all conferences and gatherings that I attended.

    Jami Maniam has indeed done so much for the Cause, as written by Manisegaran. The greatness of Jami Maniam was that he saw the Light of the Day, recognised it and carried the spirit of the Ten-Year Crusade period throughout his life. He was a constant worker for the Cause. A moment of rest was not part of his Bahai life. He always had something to do for the Cause. He served both on the team and as a one man army. He had so much energy, clear plans and visions for the promotion of the Cause.

    Jami Maniam and his kind are those who have added lusture to the community of the Greatest Name and had decorated the pages of history. He shall be remembered so long as history keeps itself alive.

    Anthony C. Louis
    Malacca town

  27. My impression of Mr. Jami Maniam was that he was a man who spoke very little and was very reserved. How I wrong I must have been after reading this story.

    I remember when I was on the Local Spiritual Assembly of Petaling Jaya community in the early 1990s, Jami Maniam came to meet with the Assembly. As soon as he entered the meeting room, all the Assembly members rose up with much respect to welcome him. I was about the newest believer among the old timers on the Assembly such as Mr. Thanabalan and Mr. Ravichandran. I felt this person could have been an important figure but did not venture to investigate more about Jami Maniam’s historical beginnings.

    I had seen Jami Maniam working all alone under the scorching heat in the Yankee Leong Bahai Institute in Balakong, doing what could be appropriately described as menial labor- sweeping the approach road and the parking area, cleaning the drain and scrubbing the bathrooms and the main hall.

    It took a very long time to get to know Jami as a person, and that was when he was in his last days. I would meet him whenever he visited the house of his daughter Zanariah when I was in the same community. Slowly Jami started to open up his heart to me. He used to talk of the early days of the Faith and how those valiant believers of the past had sacrificed their lot for the Cause and as he spoke, tears rolled down his cheeks. It was then that I realised how much Jami loved the Cause of Bahaullah. It was only then I got to know the true self of Jami. But this story with illustration by great photos sums up all about this great soul- one who never took to the stage to be recognized, rewarded, or appreciated. There was never a trace of hypocrisy in what he did or said. He lived for the Faith and by the Faith to his best. It is crystal clear all Jami wanted was to please the heart of His Creator.

    May all your services in this life be well rewarded in the Abha Kingdom

    Ronnie Koh

  28. It was so lovely to read about the life and legacy of Mr. Jami Maniam. He was the one who brough the Faith to my family in the Bukit Tinggi estate near Rompin town. He was living in the nearby Rompin town and was well respected as a Technician in the Public Works Department and was always respected when he entered the Bukit Tinggi Estate on his Lambretta motor bike.

    My brothers Ongotho, Mukundo and I accepted the Faith along with ten others in the estate. Jami was very good in following up with the contacts or new believers. He came very regularly to deepen us on the Faith. Most of the meetings were held at the home of my brother. At times he used to come with Rama Naidu. I was happy to see a photo of my brothers’s house in the story. Jami played a very important role in strengthening the believers from the Orissa background in the Batu Bersawah Estate.

    This story brought so many fondest memories of the times I grew in the Faith. Reading of those days brings a strong feeling in me. I can never forget Jami Maniam


  29. I read the story of Mr Jami Maniam. I had known that Jami had come from the state of Negeri Sembilan into Kajang community where I resided for many years. I had known him as a very devoted and sincere worker for the Cause of Bahaullah. But I never knew the range of services he had rendered the Cause, as illustrated in the story, with so many wonderful photos. It is really a very difficult task to gather so many details, and arrange them in an orderly manner. I am impressed not only with Manisegaran’s story, but also on the wide areas of service of Jami Maniam.

    Jami was a soft spoken person but could also be very strict and outspoken when he saw anyone causing harm for the Cause. For many decades he was like a father figure in the community and was a roaring lion at times all for the love he had for the Cause. He and his wife were always there to feed hungry mouths- believers and non- believers alike. No visitor has walked out of their house without a full stomach. Each meal cooked was always for more than their family members.

    Jami and his wife always had a helping nature in their blood. Whenever someone was in distress, it was Jami and his wife who always went for their assistance. They did this without being invited. I remember going to their house when my wife was very sick. They immediately arranged a room in their house for us to stay for two days, and they cooked good food and looked after my wife. We were released with a packet of cooked food once my wife had fully recovered.

    I can only say that Bahaullah has brough so many believers in the early days for some specific purposes. And Jami and his wife too were brought into the Cause for more than one purpose. And they had lived a true Bahai life. I have never seen any couple of this kind. The community of the Greatest Name needs more and more of this kind of believers to make this community and the world a heavenly place.

    Thank you Manisegaran for this detailed story

    M. Shanmugam

  30. Dear Mr. Manisegaran,

    While reading the story of Mr. Jami Maniam I felt so happy, and it is a heart-touching story. I cannot express in words the feeling that came over me. The photographs added weight and value to the story.

    I am sure that Jami was one of the chosen ones by Baha’u’llah. He sacrificed his entire life in the service of Baha’u’llah. The story tells that Jami was one of the gems who constantly served the Cause of Baha’u’llah, as a steadfast and active believer from the early days of the Faith in Malaysia.

    I shall always be thankful and grateful to the Baha’i Recollections Historical Blog that has never failed in bringing lots of beautiful and wonderful stories of those who had truly served and dedicated their entire lives in the service of the Cause of Baha’u’llah. These are the stories that connect the present and coming generations with the early believers who had laid the foundation for the Cause. They certainly inspire the believers to serve the Cause of Baha’u’llah. On this note I am not only speaking for me, perhaps I am echoing the sentiments of one and all.

    Jaya Raju Thota
    Greater Visakhapatnam
    Andhra Pradesh

  31. Dear Mr Manisegaran,

    I am very happy that you had written about Mr Jami Maniam. I read the story and was moved to tears. I knew him as one of the active believers. But after reading the story I came to know so many things about him. My respect for him has grown much higher after reading the story.

    There are two families I can never forget. One is that or Mr Narasiah in the town of Tanjong Malim and the other is that of Mr Jami. We felt sad when Mr Narasiah went on a transfer to a far off place in the south. But Jami and his wife kept visiting us to deepen and strengthen us in the Faith.

    Jami used to visit us often in the late 1970s to deepen us, and we used to gather in the home of Mr Narasiah. Jami’s love for the Faith came first. In everything he did, the Faith was foremost in his mind. I could not believe, that even in choosing the registration plate for his car he went for BAB 1844. He was simply immersed in the Faith.

    Jami always gave strong encouragement for the believers to serve and serve and serve. He kept telling us that we have to use all our energy for the Faith. Money, he said was important, but money alone was not important. He used to say all we gather in this world cannot be taken to the next world- name and wealth. Only the rewards of our services will be taken to the next world. When I attended his funeral, these words kept ringing in my years. We miss him very much.

    Rajoo Veeramuthu
    Tanjong Malim

  32. Dear Mr Manisegaran,
    Thank you for writing about Jami Maniam or Jami as he was fondly known. He was an important person in my spiritual life. He was the one who gave the Faith to my late brother Rama Naidu, and through him all his family members of my brother are Bahais serving the Faith in their own good ways.

    Jami also gave the Faith to Mr. G. Appala Naidu. I accepted the Faith through Mr. G. Appala Naidu when I was in the Ladang Geddes Estate.

    After accepting the Faith I kept a distance from Jami because of the respect I had developed for him. He was to me like a brother, a friend, a spiritual teacher, and a guide. Each time he saw me he had nothing to discuss except the urgency to serve the Cause. He was quite pushy in that sense- pushy for a perfectly acceptable reason. Jami used to encourage me to read Baha’i books and undertake teaching trips. He also urged me to teach and train my children according to the Baha’i teachings from the time they were young, which I did. In that sense I am indebted to him in many ways.

    Jami is not only remembered and admired by me, but by many believers on whom he had strong impact and influence.

    Here at last we have his life and services recorded for posterity to admire and emulate. Thanks to Manisegaran.

    Subba Rao

  33. Manisegaran

    I used to see Jami Maniam coming to the National Bahai Centre in Kuala Lumpur in the 1970s with a wonderful smiling face. He spoke very little, perhaps busy with his business. But I just saw the real Jami through your pen. Admirably great he had been. I wonder if the first generation of Baha’is in Malaysia had been a special breed, a gem of souls that displayed their God given capacity very well- well enough to attract the hearts of the future generations.

    Thank you

    T. Subbaya
    Sri Lanka

  34. I recall with great fondness the many occasions when we visited Uncle Jami Maniam and his family in Kajang. Our families were tight knit as both the adults and the children were close to each other. Possibly due to the similar age groups. Every single visit was full of laughs and great food. We looked forward to visiting them every single school holidays. It was just fun. Period.

    While our families were distant relatives, more importantly however, it was Uncle Jami who taught my Dad, Mr Ramanaidu, the Faith. The story was that Uncle Jami would come to visit my Dad and persuade him to join him on his motorbike and go to Baha’i gatherings. My Dad on the other hand, being an avid footballer, preferred to go play football. However, due to the persistence and the fact that Uncle Jami will come just before my Dad could get his boots on, he had no choice but to follow. Uncle Jami’s patience and passion and love for the Faith soon passed on to my Dad. My Dad shared once that he was amazed at how knowledgeable Uncle Jami was. My Dad was impressed at Uncle Jami being able to answer all the questions raised about the Faith, including those about other religions, he always had an answer.

    Uncle Jami and my Dad were best friends. I recall them sitting and having tea and talking about how they had no money, yet they would just find ways and means to go to conferences and on teaching trips. They were both born in the same year and came from similar backgrounds and shared similar challenges, especially the displeasure of their family that they had accepted a new religion. Together they made a great team, teaching the Faith. Uncle Jami and my Dad share the same date of passing, different year, but same date. It was on the 27 November.

    Once again, we will as a family, be eternally grateful to Uncle Jami for bringing Baha’u’llah to us. What more could we ask of a person? We will forever be indebted. Thank you Uncle Jami.

    Leroy Ramanaidu

  35. The Malaysian Bahai community has truly produced great stalwarts by the tons. One by one I am getting to know the full background of some of the best heroes and heroines of the Faith through this blog. Most of them seem to be unsung servants of the Cause, whose full stories had never been published before.

    Thank you Mr. Mani for bringing to light the story of Mr. Jami Maniam, another true stalwart who was also one of the Standard-Bearers from the Ten Year Crusade period. His story is that of infusing the love of Bahaullah to hundreds to walk the path of service. I can never forget that he was very much instrumental in bring the Odisha Bahais of Bahau area to the Cause of God. I guess in the Batu Bersawah Division around 50 had accepted the Faith.

    When I was around 10 years old, Jami used to come to the Batu Bersawah Division of the Jeram Padang Estate in his scooter.

    He met the Bahais, conducting deepening classes and joined them in the Nineteen Day Feasts. I was eagerly asking about his profession from other believers and was told that he was the Public Works Department Manager in Rompin town. In those days th framed pictures of Abdul Baha and Greatest Name was distributed and I first saw them in my Uncle Govind Chondro ‘ s house.

    In 1967, Jami Sir and Mr. Kanagaratnam had started a children’s classes and I was one of the participants. When Kanagaratnam left, Mr. Provangar, one more Orissa believer used to teach us. Jami too conducted the classes. Sometimes visitors to came to our estate. I remember once Jami brought Mr. Leong Tat Chee and his wife to our children class. We were so happy, snacks were served followed by storytelling, songs and snapping photos. All these really instilled in us a new inspiration and zeal. Recalling those events seem to be memorable and unique experiences

    In 1972, I was doing my form 4 in the secondary school. Jami came to the Batu Bersawah Division and saw me and said to look for youths looking for jobs. He took around 6 youths to Kuala Lumpur to join the Peter’s Type Writing company which Jami was managing on behalf of Raymond Peter who was away pioneering in Sri Lanka. Two of them were outstanding workers.

    In 1984, I came for a short visit to Malaysia from India with Mr. Manisegaran who had undertaken one month travel teaching to Tamilnadu .Mr. Jami was the one who received us in the Subang International Airport.

    I saw this great man once again in 1993, just returning back from India for good with my family. Then, he and Mr. Steven Chan sent me to North Labis Estate, to take up the job of a conductor Jami and Steven also visited me there. These two were really caring persons, an inherent quality in them prioritizing the welfare of others.

    I was unable to attend his funeral as we were on pilgrimage.

    I am supplicating to the Almighty God to grant Jami a lofty station in the Realm of God.
    Thank you

    Puncak Alam
    Kuala Selangor

  36. I had known Jami as a believer to whom the Faith came first. He lived for the Faith and by the Faith.

    Even though the late Jami and my family are distance relations, I only knew him when I first met him in the house of the late Rama Naidu in Bahau in 1971. Thereafter I met him many times during Baha’i gatherings and family get-together.

    When Mr. Ramanaidu moved to Bidor town in the state of Perak, he asked me to join him from Johor Bahru where I was residing to assist him in aboriginal teaching activities called the Asli-teaching. One evening sometime in 1975, Jami was returning to his home in Kuala Lumpur after a couple of days of repairing typewriters for Railway Department in the northern region. We had a very jovial conversion while having evening tea over family matters and also about the Faith.

    During our conversion, I mention to him that I need a typewriter to type minutes and other activities for both the Asli community and local activities. He immediately held my hand and took me to his car. He unloaded a Remington brand secondhand typewriter and gave it to me and requested me to make full use of it for the Bahai activities. I made use of this typewriter for many years typing minutes and letters for the National Asli Committee, Local Spiritual Assembly and also other regional committees.

    We used to visit him while he was in Kajang. It is difficult to accept that he is no more around. His hospitality, love, and jolliness still remain fresh in my memory.

    Mari Yariah

  37. Mr. Manisegaran

    What a befitting and inspirational story of one of the early believers of the Faith. From the acceptance of the Faith Mr. Jami Maniam labored tirelessly for the promotion of the beloved Cause of Baha’u’llah. I personally felt moved and inspired after reading the story of Mr. Jami Maniam. There is so much to learn from the early heroes of the Faith in Malaysia, and their great sacrifice and absolute dedication to our beloved Faith.

    Nemat Sabapathy

  38. I remember Mr. Jami Maniam as one who was very committed to whatever work assigned to him. Each time I went to the Yankee Leong Bahai Institute in Balakong, he was there, always doing something to improve the place. In the community of Kajang where he resided, he was seen as the strongest pillar not only in the community, but also on the Local Spiritual Assembly. He only slowed down when his own health deteriorated. But during the time when he was physically fit, Jami was always on the move within the community and outside the community as well. He gave all the encouragement to anyone coming forward to serve the Cause, and also gave admonitions to anyone who deviated from the straight path. I shall miss him forever

    G. Karthi

  39. Dear Mr.Mani,
    A novel-worthy account on the late uncle Jami and his colorful life as a Baha’i. It is refreshing to note that you were able to articulate the various aspects of uncle Jami’s life from his triumphs to his challenges. I for one am comforted after reading this account because it gives the reader, relatable realities of life as a Baha’I and the way uncle Jami navigated them.

    Our lives are in fact a summation of experiences over the years and many of these experiences are made up of paths that we cross with various people. Some of these people inspire us with the way they led their lives and to a large extent play a role in shaping and reinforcing principals we live by as we also navigate our lives.

    So many moving and inspiring scenarios detailed in this fine recollection and the various friends who have commented in the way they did only reaffirms, what truly matters in the end are not our material possession or how highly educated we are but rather how anchored we were to Baha’u’llah and by pivoting to the power of the Covenant, live a life of service that impacts the lives of many as seen here from the comments.

    I witnessed growing up, many things articulated in this fine recollection from his famous BAB 1844 car registration plate to his steel resolve in being firm and strict with the Faith, the sense of responsibility, discipline and as a non-compromising defender of the Faith, a characteristic very similar to my own parents whom were some of his closest companions.

    Much have been said about uncle Jami and so I would like to share only one particular experience I had with uncle Jami that till this day I endeavor to practice. Over the years during the time the Yan Kee Leong Baha’I Institute was in full operation in Balakong, the friends nationwide enjoyed the convenience and comfort of that Institute where children, youth and adult believers attended the countless conferences, youth camps, conventions, etc.

    Many if not all, are not familiar that from the time the property was built, the minute details of maintenance and repairs were overseen by uncle Jami. When I was a college student in Kuala Lumpur, I spent my weekends in Kajang and one of my activities was to follow uncle Jami to Balakong to carry out various physically challenging work. In the early days, Balakong had its own generator and it was no easy feat providing electricity to the building. This generator several times injured him as it had to be manually started by winding a very heavy metal wrench. If we recall, the generator was also located down a steep slope where our water supply was also located. Often the water pump would fail and an extremely heavy pump up to 50kg had to be carried all the way down that slippery steep slope to get water pumped and then the pump has to be carried all the way up again.

    I learned how to use a grass cutter from uncle Jami and we would cut the grass of the entire green hilly slopes which groomed the building. There were just so many other works that needed to be carried out where uncle Jami would single-handedly carry out. He was the type of man who always did the work himself to have the satisfaction that work was carried out well and on time because everything that related to the faith must be done perfectly. I grew up watching my parents serving the Faith in this same manner and I am grateful that leaving home, coming to the big city to further my studies, that attitude to serve the Faith in that manner continued in my life through uncle Jami’s service to the Faith.

    Uncle Jami was a physically strong man to be able to carry such heavy work single-handedly and that same strength was shown in his conviction to the Faith. He faced many challenges in his life but none of those challenges he allowed to ever come between him and his service to the Faith. Only a soul enamored with the love for Baha’u’llah can be capable of such a life to be truly detached from the pitfalls of life in order to serve the Faith continually and consistently. It is truly a gift and a blessing to be able to grow up witnessing and learning courage and tenacity tampered with deeply rooted love for the Faith that anchors us to Baha’u’llah. I honour this man and I am truly grateful for all the wisdom he imparted to me.

    Naren Narasiah
    Shah Alam

  40. Dear Mr. Manisegaran

    This is the first time I am commenting in your popular blog, although I am a regular reader of the postings in your blog to get inspired. I am commenting because you have written about Mr Jami Maniam whom I could never forget. Jami was my mentor and spiritual father.

    I came to know Jami very early in the seventies, when I was a student in the secondary school. One day he visited my home place in the Batu Bersawah Division of Jeram Padang Estate near Bahau town. He came riding a Lambratta scooter and introduce himself. He then conversed with a few of us. When leaving he said that he would come again the following week. So I arranged about 20 friends and my relatives to meet him in his next visit. We met around 7pm. This time he brought with him some books, pamphlets and some photos and started to talk about the Bahai Faith. He was so friendly a person while telling about the Faith. We were very happy to listen to him and all of us enrolled into this new religion. He then singled me out and asked me to organize the 19- Day Feast meetings, which I did every month. Then came a time when I left Batu Bersawah Division for working outstation.

    After a couple of years, I came back to my home as one of my sisters had just passed away. I was at home Mr. Jami came to visit my parents. After that Mr. Jami told my parents that he was taking me with him to Kuala Lumpur. The following day he came and took me and a few others to Kuala Lumpur to work for the Peter’s Type Writing Company, which he managed while Mr. Raymond Peter and his wife were away to Ceylon for pioneering.

    I can never forget the days I spent in that company. I was very happy to be with Jami as he gave me shelter and job that was well paid. He was a good man, a good boss with a big heart. He was always conscious that he was a Bahai in whatever he did. I worked with him for some 3 years. Then I left the company when he too left the company upon the return of Raymond Peter from Ceylon.

    Next I met Jami again at Kajang town in 1975 where he had started his own Typewriting Company under his daughter Zarina’s name.

    I was very close to him till his last days and always visited him and his family at his house at Kajang. He was my guru, teacher and my mentor and many of those who accepted the Faith through him or worked under him owe so much to him. He is that human gem who is responsible for what I am today. He is a great man who had brought many Orissa believers to the Faith. A true believer indeed. When he passed away I was there to pay my last respects for him. I recollected all the good things he had carried out for the Cause.

    God bless his soul in all the Kingdoms of God.

    Thank you
    Bahano H.Naiko
    Kuala Lumpur

  41. Dear Manisegaran,
    I read the story of late Jami Maniam.
    Thank you for the timely release of these Wonderful n inspiring history told of their selfless service to Baha’u’llah ~ to me personally is very uplifting and they all these heroes living around us without us knowing if not for your records. Thank you again, Sir.

    Lim Pun Huat
    Sri Aman

  42. Uncle Jami is related to me through his wife, Mrs Jami known to all as Aunty Jami and to the family lovingly as Aunty Papa, who is the younger sister of my father, G. Appala Naidu. We were a total of eight cousin’s, four from each side of the family, closely knitted since we were born. I still reminisce my childhood days where we used to spend almost every weekends and all of our school holidays together at Uncle Jami‘s house in Kajang. Together with the band of eight cousins were joined by late Uncle Rama Naidu’s and Uncle Narasiah’s children. The seventeen of us were around the same age and we used to have such great fun. Amidst all this fun there were strict rules to be obeyed, Bahá’í rules, saying prayers together every morning and night, memorising the Hidden Words and prayers, deepening sessions and fun quizzes to challenge our knowledge in the history of the Faith.

    Uncle Jami was a strict and disciplined man, a man of few words, but when it came to the Faith, you could see his passion and love from the way he spoke. I have never been in his presence where he has not mentioned the Faith. There were times as a young youth, I used to follow my cousins to assist Uncle at his typewriter business. Every customer who entered his shop, he would mention the Faith. He had his way about it, never too pushy or insensitive, but always managed to teach the Faith. I’ve also had the opportunity to follow Uncle and Aunty during their home visits in Kajang. I used to see a pattern, Uncle would sit in the living room and gathered around him would be the male members of the household whilst Aunty very naturally would make her way to the kitchen where the women usually flocked. Separately yet together they would talk about the Faith. When it was time to leave the home, I could see the joy and love radiating from the friends and hear them excitedly inviting Uncle and Aunty to visit them again.

    I will never forget the grand Naw Ruz celebrations they used to hold yearly in their home. It will start from breakfast and end with dinner. Friends from all walks of life, never seeing any differences were welcomed to their home to enjoy the feast and fellowship. Everyone who came knew about the Faith through Uncle and Aunty.

    Their generous hospitality and genuine love didn’t just stop there they also took particular concern in both the material and spiritual wellbeing of the youths who came to Kajang either to travel teach or study or just passing through. Everyone were fed and well taken care even to the extent of doing their laundry. Both my Uncle and Aunty were examples of this Words by Baha’u’llah “Let deeds not words, be your adorning”.

    I like to thank dear Uncle Mani for this eloquent account of Uncle Jami’s outstanding and unwearied service to our beloved Faith. Through your work, I have managed to glean the early history of Uncle’s involvement in the Faith and how from the moment he accepted Baha’u’llah, he was like an unstoppable wildfire till the end of his life.

    Nazrin Naidu
    Kuala Lumpur

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