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MODERN DAY RELEVANCE OF PERANAKAN CULTURE

Is Peranakan Culture therefore relevant to this modern world and in this day and age? Of course it is !! It is more relevant now than it ever was as it is in decline. Therefore as young Peranakans we need to ensure that what little is left of our unique and beautiful culture is preserved for many more generations to come. Well you may say that it is too late or that times change and that we cant fight the tide of assimilation into mainstream Chinese society, but nothing is ever too late if something is done. All it takes is effort and a little interest to get things going. Here's a list of what you can do to get more involved in Peranakan Culture:

Talk to your elders - If the elders in your family are still around, pay them a visit, talk to them, ask them about the old culture, what they did, what they cooked, and the sort of practices they did then

Compile a Family Diary - You could also complie notes on old forgotten recipes your grandma used to make and get them down or start a family historical account like when your ancestors came to Singapore, where they were from, what they did, where they lived, etc.

Compile a Family Photo Album - You could also compile a Photo album. Get all your old family photos of your grand parents and great grand parents and put them in an album. Write notes on the particular event and what they did that was Peranakan in any given way.

Record your Family History - You could also ask your elders to tell you about their life story and how Peranakan culture was like in the 1930's, record their anecdotes and youll be able to play it back for your children and grand children to hear.

Be Proactive - Learn more about your culture, surf the net on Peranakan related items, go to the library, buy Peranakan related books, or start using the kebaya and learn how to cook those mouth watering dishes in your spare time. You could even learn a few words of Baba Malay from your aunts and uncles if you really want, just ask them I'm sure theyll oblige!! Dont just sit there, do something !!

Practice a Bit of the Past - Try to incorporate Peranakan culture into your family activities, you could watch a Peranakan play together, take out the dusty nonya antiques you inherited and admire them for a change, have a Peranakan reception with a modern tea ceremony complete with old family porcelain, use the kebaya or batik shirt on special occasions such as Chinese New Year, Brithdays and Christmas or just go to the Peranakan Museum at Armenian Street for a tour to learn more about your culture. Bring your cousins and fellow Peranakan friends along too while youre at it !!

Join the Peranakan Association - The Peranakan Association is active in promoting Peranakan Culture nad organises Peranakan related activities and functions such as annual dinners, Peranakan Conventions, Youth Meetings, Outings, Chinese New Year Gatherings and the like. You could even meet fellow young Peranakans in these events. Below are some examples of how Peranakan Material Culture can be incorporated into a modern day, westernised context . The below examples show you that Peranakan Material Culture need not be relegated to thepast but can be used for the present :

The picture on the left shows you how Church services could even incorporate certain elements of Peranakan Culture into Christianity. The above picture was taken for the Peranakan Chinese New Year Mass over at Holy Family Church in Katong. Even if you arent Catholic but are Protestant or Charasmatic, you could also have a similar table done up with candles on either side to welcome in the New Year just the Peranakans of days of yore did. Just put a flower on the table and have a sarung draped in front of it with a plate of oranges and you have your own Peranakan Chinese New Year display !! If you really feel spiritual on any a Christmas day you also could have a cross in the centre of the table as well.

You can even rent Peranakan Wedding accesories like the ones above now !! A shop called Bebe's Niche in Katong rents such costumes for a fee and you can even have your wedding photo taken with that special person or with family and freinds !! Cool huh? You could even have a semi wedding procession as well if you so wish.

This is what one couple did for their wedding day, they got all the old family heirlooms out of the cupboard, used them for a Peranakan tea ceremony and revived a lot of the old traditions such as kneeling or sohjar to one's elders and having the first ceremonial meal together. If you want you could follow the above layout as it was the same layout used by the Peranakans of old for the first ceremonial meal of a wedding. Just place a sarung over the table, get a pair of candlesticks and place it on either side, get 4 nonya bowls and a teapot out, fill it up with chinese tea, have 2 oranges in a bowl on either end, 2 spoons, and 2 bowls for the meal and 2 tea cups for the tea and hey presto you have a modern day Peranakan Tea Ceremony. You can get those red Peranakan wedding baskets on the bottom left now from any flower shop, they sell replicas from China now!! You dont need to wait for a wedding, you could even have this when its Chinese New Year or Christmas, just get your parents to replace the bride & groom and serve them Chinese tea or English Tea for a change.

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You could get your hands on Nonya beadwork and try to learn some Peranakan culture and Baba Malay from fellow Peranakans in the class. They cost around S$250 for a few lessons. Thats what i call killing three birds with one stone. Just look at the classifieds or get the info of shops that actually hold such classes and hey presto youre got yourself a much awaited nonya shoe of your own. Beautiful arent they and they were just made a few months ago!!

Buy a kebaya (for girls) or Batik Shirt (for guys) from any Peranakan antique shop that fits you or get yourself a tailored to order kebaya at one of the tailorshops, and by the timw you know it youre got your own ready to wear kebaya, get grandma's sarung out of the closet, buy a cheap copper belt and a set of 3 brooches or kerosangs to fasten it and you have a sarung kebaya to call your very own !! And guys go get a batik shirt from geylang serai and put it on next time you go Chinese New Year visiting.

Oh yes and dont forget to get your hands dirty and try to cook some of those delicous mouth watering nonya kuehs and nonya food that youve always desired!! The list is endless !! You could also have a Peranakan themed tea party if you want and get your friends over for some authentic nonya desserts and kuehs from Begawan Solo. Now thats good for a change huh? Hey have some frapuccino from Starbucks with those kuehs. Now thats a thought huh. So go on what are you waiting for? Get in touch with your Peranakan roots, it isnt too late to learn more and become more Peranakan. In fact its way cool !!

Happy Exploring and I do hope that you have learned much more than you ever could through this website. So dont say that peranakan culture isnt relevant in today's society, as youve seen it can be cool and funky as well !! Cheers and all the best in your Peranakan endeavours!!

These are just a few of the suggestions that will help you appreciate and help inculcate a feeling of connection with your heritage for for many more years to come. You could also try to read more about Peranakan culture in your free time, buy some related books on Peranakan culture, look out for Peranakan publications and watch Peranakan Wayang shows on a regular basis. A good way will be to join Peranakan online clubs and message boards where you can get to know other young Peranakans with similar interests. You can find these forums below.

The Photo above shows you Peranakan houses in Emerald Hill Road. You can also visit such places to have a look and experience the ambience of what living in an old Peranakan area was like. Good areas to check out will be Balir Plain beside the Singapore General Hospital, Cairnhill, Tanjong Pagar, Telok Ayer, Katong, Joo Chiat and Geyalng. Such walking tours will help you get in touch with your culture. A good place to start will be Emerald Hill Road as its just beside Centrepoint !! You could also look at the pubs at Mohammad Sultan, they used to be Peranakan homes as well !! So start a walking tour now, get to know about the areas where Peranakans of yesteryear lived and enjoy yourselves !!

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