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Location: Singapore, Singapore

A "recycled teenager" learning to blog.

Feb 28, 2012

Ways Done in the Past - Chinese Wayang

Chinese Wayang at George Street, Singapore c 1975.
What is the difference of a Singapore Memory enthusiast and a person in viewing the same photo above with a casual, uninterested passing glance without batting an eyelid?
To many seasoned and experienced Memory Corps members trained to study the photo with their minds' eyes like reading a topographical map to describe with details, this photo brings back to the moments of memories transported five decades ago at the scene of the Chinese wayang at Bukit Ho Swee where it actually happened...same, same but different!

Chinese "wayang" (translated as "opera" in Malay) was common in Singapore and the ways done in the past a century ago.

In the early kampong days before TV, hi-fi sound systems, video tape recorders or computers are found in almost every home for entertainment, the village children were looking forward anxiously to watch the Chinese wayang. It was like a carnival time for the kampong folks.

Like the young children in the photo watching the rehearsal in the hot afternoon.

It looks like a comedy scene on the stage which made the children laugh. The joy and the fun was natural, not a re-enacted synthetic scene of a TV drama directed from scripts. Most of the children were there for the games, goodies and toy stalls to enjoy the fun.

Brisk business for ice-cream on a hot day...

The game and toy stall at the Chinese wayang show in the 1970s.

According to the photo credit of National Archives of Singapore on this blog topic, the Chinese wayang performers were in Singapore in the 1890s.

Chinese wayang stage in 1890.
Chinese wayang performers in the 1890s.

A wayang stage at Lim Chu Kang kampong in 1978.

 A wayang stage at the wharf of Clarke Quay in 1978.

The residents "chop" (reserved) the best seats with chairs, stools and boxes before the wayang started.

Chit-chat before the show started.

Ice-cream vendors at the wayang stage.

Packed crowd to watch the Chinese wayang performance at the edge of the stage.

Below the stage, it became a playground for children running around the place.

The project on "The Chinese Stage" by students of Jurong Primary School at ThinkQuest to learn more.

The Backstage Scene

Dinner time for the performers.

The performers playing cards for recreation after showtime ended.

Dressing-up for the performers

Ways done for advertising on the Chinese wayang stages.

Chinese Wayang Show-Time

The traditional art of Chinese Wayang has survived over a century in multi-culture Singapore for generations.

The Chinese Opera Performance Night at Changi Simei Community Centre Multipurpose Hall on 23 March, 2010. Please click 'Slide Show' to view here .


Feb 26, 2012

Ways Done in the Past - Wedding Reception

Chinese wedding reception c 1934.

I attended my former colleague, Peter Yeo Sian Teck's daughter Michelle Yeo's wedding reception at the Paramount Hotel Restaurant on 25 February, 2012 at 1.00 pm.

Peter Yeo (aka Yoko or brother Yeo in Hokkien) is my colleague and friend for over 30 years. I met many of my former colleagues and friends at the wedding lunch. So many to talk and reminisce our fond nostalgic memories of our office days over a decade ago. How little time to catchup with old buddies to enjoy our meetup.

I am happy to know Yoko's completion of his duty and responsibility for his daughter Michelle's marriage to Leonard. "Job Done" Brother, like our schooldays scouts!

Marriage is another form of "national service" in Singapore.

The occasion of the wedding reception strikes me to ask myself the traditional ways done in the past in Singapore for weddings and marriage ceremonies in multi-ethnic and multi-religious Singaporeans in the early days.

Although I did not attend many wedding receptions after my daughter's marriage, I think the modern day wedding receptions have evolved over the decades.

Lets take a look at some photos selected discriminately, to post and share with everyone on this blog with credit and acknowlegement with appreciation of National Archives of Singapore (NAS) as shown "For online reference - viewing only" watermark.

Since the end of the Japanese Occupation seventy years ago, Singaporeans are fortunately to be married peacefully through the Registry of Marriage following the customary marriage of their respective ethnic or religion groups in Singapore.

The registration of Muslim Marriages was legislated back in the 1880s under the various Mohammedan Marriage Ordinances.

The Hindu Marriage Act was established in 1955 as part of the Hindu Code Bills

It doesn't matter whether a traditional ceremony or reception were held for families and guests.

My parents were married without any formal registration or ceremony in the 1940s during the Japanese Occupation. They are not illegally married though. My mother told me that she had a photo with my father at a photo studio in Chin Chew Street and once pointed to me where that studio was located.

However, I never had a chance to see that memorable photo taken by my parents. It would be a treasured memoranda to save it as a "thumbdrive of my life".

The shared memories on the ways done in the past are posted on this blog here.

Chinese wedding reception c 1956. "Yam Seng...."

Wedding reception tea party c 1950

Wedding reception tea party c 1950.

Wedding in the Past

Vintage car buff and collectors, name these wedding car!!!

A group photo of bride and bridegroom with family and guests during a wedding reception in 1940.

Triple wedding for three brother at Mandarin Hotel in 1973.

Chinese wedding reception at Mandarin Hotel ballroom in 1980.

Famous Singaporean Weddings

Mr Lim Nee Soon with his elder son Lim Chong Kuo's wedding with Tan Lai Ho, daughter of Mr Tan Kah Kee at "Garden Club" Tanah Merah, Singapore on 22 September, 1923.

Wedding of Lim Chong Pang, second son of Lim Nee Soon with Lee Poh Neo, daughter of Lee Choon Guan c 1922.

Former Chief Minister of Singapore David Marshall married Jean Grey, 34, a University of Malaya lecturer in the State Marriage Registry on 5 April, 1961.

Mr and Mrs Lee Kuan Yew's wedding reception at Raffles Hotel on 30 September, 1950. Mr Lee is the eldest son of Mr and Mrs Lee Chin Koon, and the bride is the third daughter of Mr and Mrs Kwa Siew Tee. Both are Barristers and members of the old Straits Chinese families.

Mr and Mrs Lee Kuan Yew at a reception held at Raffles Hotel on 30 September, 1950.

Mr and Mrs Lee Kuan Yew at a reception held at Raffles Hotel on 30 September, 1950.

Mass Wedding in Singapore

First Mass Wedding organised by Hokkien Huay Kuan on 30 September, 1956.

The brides waiting for the first mass wedding ceremony in the Hokkien Huay Kuan, Singapore.

First mass wedding ceremony in the Hokkien Huay Kuan, Singapore.

First mass wedding ceremony in the Hokkien Huay Kuan, Singapore.

First mass wedding ceremony in the Hokkien Huay Kuan, Singapore.

First mass wedding ceremony in the Hokkien Huay Kuan, Singapore.

First mass wedding ceremony in the Hokkien Huay Kuan, Singapore.

First mass wedding ceremony in the Hokkien Huay Kuan, Singapore.

Mayfair Association 11th mass wedding in 1940.

Singapore Khek community mass wedding in 1953.

Miss Lam Man Fun, speaks on behalf of the brides at mass wedding held on 22 March, 1956 at the Khek Community Guild.

Singapore Khek community mass wedding in 1953.

Mass wedding organised by Chinese Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) at Victoria Memorial Hall on 15 September, 1951.

As Singapore is a multi-ethnic society and Singaporeans have been married for a century or more in Singapore, with their great, great grandchildren Singaporeans living here now, what do they know the ways done in the past for these marriages and wedding ceremonies?

My father was an immigrant from China and my mother was born here in Singapore.

As I mentioned in my previous blogs about my parents, there were very little about them. No Singapore memories to share about in the Singapore Memory Project. Nothing to bother about or to be curious enough to ask them about how to know one another, how they meet one another for the first time, their "love stories" and so on.

The children in the past were not so "kay poh" or curious. We were taught only "to be seen, not to be heard", to respect our elders and not to ask impolite or stupid questions like how our grandparents fall in love, where they went for "pak tor", match-making marriage by parents and so on. Thus their personal life details were confidential and their children were not allowed to ask them. These questions are taboo.

Muslim Wedding

A Malay bride reading the "Quran" on Wedding Day. c 1930.

Malay wedding reception c 1930.

Hindu Wedding

Hindu wedding c 1961.

Hindu wedding at Shree Lakshminarayan c 1990.

Other Wedding Ceremonies in Singapore

Peranakan Wedding c 1908.

Jewish wedding c 1954.

Eurasian wedding c 1940.

"Just Wed" car-boot banner tied with noisy cans when the car was driven c 1950.

Sports Club wedding ceremony c 1947.

There are lots of wedding memories from every Singaporeans from our ancestors. Please share these Singapore memories on irememberSG on Facebook.