Monday, April 30, 2007

Chinatown is expecting another event!

This afternoon as I drove into South Bridge Road, dragons greeted me. With an eye on the road and an eye on the dragon, I was trying to recall what could this be. Chinese New Year is still months away. What could be happening?

There is only one possibility. And we will wait as it unfolds itself in the heart of Chinatown.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Ah, and the next generation is here ...

We know that the neighbourhood has somewhat settled when we see that the next generation's offsprings have been sent to grandpa and grandma. It is the children that gel the neighbourhood. In my first 12 years in the neighbourhood, there were only cursory smiles and nod of the head at the lift landing or inside the lift. But when the first kid arrived, it was not just smile but questions about the kid, how big he has grown .. and suddenly, the vertical (as in a flat) kampung (village) became like a horizontal kampung.

When my kids were young, my neighbour's house became the playground. The kids knew that they would have something nicer there. After all the field afar is always greener. (^^) My young daughter learnt quickly that if she said something smells nice, she would be rewarded with something to eat.

Pretty soon, my kids grew up and somewhat became shy of budging into the next door. Meanwhile the "korkor" and "jiejie" next door started getting married. For a moment of time, the noises were from our house.

And then, with the arrival of "spring", the kids next door started to bring back their offsprings for grandpa and grandma to take care. Wow, and the number grew from one to two to three. It was and still is a happy extended family again. It was time for us to comment how the kids grow so fast. We see the babies grew day by day, as how they saw our kids grow. Suddenly, the "korkor" and "jiejie" on this side became shy from the attention showered on them by the little kids next door.

Ah, these days, it would be quite difficult to see bamboo loads of tiny clothes. With the use-and-throw diapers, one no longer sees the cloth diapers that every mother-to-be has to learn to fold before the baby arrives. So, were the folding of absorbable paper (one has to rub the paper with two hands to make them soft for the soft bottoms of the baby) diapers before the cloth ones are tied over.

Replacement levels have not been met, but at least there is progress. (^^)

Hopefully, if the flat still stays, we might get to see yet another load of offsprings. (^^)

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Malayalees celebrate their New Year in Chinatown

Thanks to an old neighbour, who was our babysitter for my daughter, now her god-mum, friend, I got to learn about the Malayalees celebrating their New Year with the Vishunite 2007 at the Kreta Ayer People's Theatre on 21 Apr 2007.

Mention Kreta Ayer People's Theatre and chances are it will be showing Cantonese Opera, and other Chinese shows. But this night, another ancient tradition and art has taken over. To many Singaporeans, they might still not really know about the Malayalees, just as other Singaporeans trying to know the Hokkiens and Cantonese.

Borrowing the notes from the Vishukkani 2007, the Singapore Malayalee Hindu Samajam
Publication, in the article on Vishu, Reshma Rajesh wrote that, "Vishu is a unique Hindu festival celebrated by the people of Kerala. Vishu is the first day of the Malayalam month of "Medam", which falls in the month of April. Vishu is considered to be the New Year for the people of Kerala."

The first thing that the people of Kerala see on this special day is the "Vishukani" which is for prosperity and good luck all year through. In temples also the Vishukanni will be arranged. Some people refer to see the vishu kanni in temples. According to the Hindu tradition, the Vishukani will have a lamp lighted in front of Lord Krishna, gold, money, fruits, a clean white cloth called "Kasava Mundu", rice grains, yellow flowers known as Konna (Cassia fistula), jackfruit, a mirror, betel leaves, coconut halved and yellow cucumber.

Young members of the family are given gifts and "kaineetam" that is a small amount of money which is supposed to bring prosperity all year through

Dressed in their best, many Malayalees congregated at the Kreta Ayer People's Theatre for the show, performed by amateurs as well as professional dancers. Artistes from India were also invited to perform in the show. Tradition runs strong and deep in this community in Singapore!

Alas for me, because of prior engagement, I had to miss the show, but from looking at the artistes - children to professionals - I know I will miss an interesting event and a chance to get to know the community better. Next year perhaps. (^^) Still, it was great to drop by, ate the Vegetarian Wadeh (fantastic), coffee (somehow tasted different and better) and bought two Ladu, which I was told once I eat it, I will be coming for more. I will try it later.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

The Origin

With kind permission and thanks to James and his friend, here is a very nice picture of the bullockcart, and with the water on it, presto, it is the bullockcartwater, probably sounding more correct in Malay - Kreta Ayer or Chinese - Niu Che Shui.

Could anyone recognise or identify where this picture was taken? Would be great to take a picture of the same place (no chance of a bullockcart though) today, if it is still around.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Nan Yin at Tian Hock Keng 天福宫

It's Guan Yin's birthday today (2M19) and Hokkien Huay Kuan with Siong Leng Nan Yin group staged a Nan Yin concert in front of the Hokkien Huay Kuan building with the Tian Hock Keng opened for worship.

By 8pm, almost all the seats were filled up and some spare chairs were being placed.

For this concert, the troupe spared no efforts in getting the performers to dress in Tang Dynasty dresses - wow, they looked good, especially on the ladies!

The first song was in dedication to Guan Yin, singing praise of Guan Yin and telling about the three importants dates of celebration in honour of Guan Yin, 2M19, 6M19 and 9M19 (in lunar calendar, month-date)

This night was a night of the younger generation. The older members only performed on the first song dedicated to Guan Yin. The younger ones took over from there with the songs, ensemble and even one with a dance, all very beautifully cheorographed.

Thanks to Kevin Ang, he has produced an English edition pamphlet explaining about Nan Yin and Tian Hock Keng. I hope to be able to get his copy in pdf so that you could also download to read. In the next performance, perhaps, a similar copy in different languages could be made available in the internet.

An ancient song and music, an ancient language - the origin of Tang and the Hokkiens - have been preserved and today, thanks to the dedication of the Siong Leng Musical Association, we get to enjoy what our grandparents have been enjoying in the early years in Singapore.

Thanks to Kent of SOH,

See you there on 6M19? 1st August 2007. Bookmark in your diary!