As the Chinese New Year festive season draws near, I was pondering how this year would turn out. Some of us would be busy with spring cleaning the home, storing up yummy goodies, preparing new Singapore dollar notes and a host of other things. How much of these have immersed into our lives would depend on the influence of our parent’s or ancestor’s heritage on us.
Besides the traditions or the way which we do things that have been passed down through the generations, would there be those which are more intrinsic or intangible? For the Chinese, could it be the traditional cultural values that influence the psyche of the Chinese people namely harmony, benevolence, righteousness, courtesy, wisdom, honesty, loyalty, and filial piety?
There are those of us whose Indian tradition includes respecting their elders, helping the needy, speaking the truth and welcoming guests and treating them nicely.
I went to check out Peranakan and this was what I got. Peranakan heritage is a tale of adaptation. The term ‘Peranakan’ means ‘locally born’ in Malay, and refers to the descendants of foreign traders who married local women in Southeast Asia centuries ago.
Singapore’s Peranakan community is mostly Peranakan Chinese, descendants of Chinese traders who settled in the busy ports of Penang and Singapore in the 19th century. For many of us, my guess is their foods like laksa and kueh which have attracted us most.
Turning to the Christian heritage, the Psalmist tells us:
105 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
111 Your testimonies are my heritage forever, for they are the joy of my heart.
112 I incline my heart to perform your statutes forever, to the end. (Psalms 119: 105, 111-112)
The HCSB and NRSV translate to decrees instead of testimonies, so I believe the Lord’s decrees, testimonies, statutes, and words are the ones which would stand the test of time in the quest of our heritage.
As for Bethesda Chapel’s heritage, what is it? Is it the way we partake our holy communion? Or because it exists in our fellowships? Or is it in our sharing of the Gospel? I believe our BC distinctives and heritage would be very much determined by how you, your children and your grandchildren define it.
Ps Frankie Koh