Friday, August 7, 2009

Walking Proud, Being Loud


Parade of Peranakans strikes a colourful chord with festival goers

Decked in colourful Sarong Kebayas and armed with smiles on their faces, 22 Miss World finalists paraded down the Singapore River to the sound of drums on the 17th of July 2009.

This was in relation to the Singapore Food Festival and the parade was the first of its kind since the festival’s start in 1994.

The ladies were accompanied by the Samba Masala group from the Singapore Management University (SMU) who provided the sounds as they strolled by.

The parade started at the Singapore River promenade outside The Central, where all 22colourfully dressed ladies paraded down to the Read Bridge, where the Clarke Quay food street with 30 food stalls were set up.

With emphasis placed on the Peranakan culture for this year’s Food Festival, one would be treated to a myriad of cuisine at the food street.

There, the parade came to a temporary halt as the guest of honour Mr Sam Tan, Member of Parliament, pounded traditional spices with pestle and mortar to officiate the festival.

The parade performers soon made their way towards the Clarke Quay atrium, where a stage was erected for the opening ceremony of the Food Festival.

A series of Peranakan related activities soon followed, starting with a fashion show featuring the 22 Miss World Contestants who were decked out in traditional Peranakan attire.

As they took to the stage flaunting the Sarong Kebayas, locally renowned Peranakan actor, G.T. Lye, talked the crowd through the different variations of Peranakan fashion.

With so much colour and flare, the usual bustle of Clarke Quay’s patrons came to a standstill; even curious shop assistants stopped in their tracks to watch the unique display.

“Its very nice, very colourful and informative,” said Mr Kamal, who worked at an Indian restaurant around the atrium and had stopped to watch.

However, the highlight of the ceremony had to be the Peranakan choir, where a group of 20 Nyonyas and Babas took to the stage in a crescendo of local Peranakan songs.

With their melodic voices echoing the Clarke Quay with tracks of reminiscence, it is no wonder that foreigners like Mr Marty Millar is filled with nothing but praise for them.

“Pride in your country is very important and that cultures can meet and be one, that’s something to be proud of,” he said.

Mdm Shirley Tay, who was part of the Peranakan choir, feels just that.

“Anything for our culture, we just love our culture,” she said, after her performance on stage.

“Whether its food or our clothes or singing, we just love it.”

The Singapore Food Festival is on from 17th July to 26th July 2009 at various locations around the island in a celebration of local culture, flare and of course, food.


Article and Pictures by Kenneth Ang