Cuisine in Melaka


Chinese designs incorporated in mosques
MyKampung 2012-02-28 18:50

Members of Friends of Melaka Museums posing for group photo at the end of their visit. Front row second from left is Haji Shaukani Abbas, with Iesnordin on the extreme right. Photo courtesy by Sin Chew Daily
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Translated by WINNIE CHOOI
Sin Chew Daily

MELAKA — The structure of Kampung Kling Mosque in Melaka built in the 18th century boasts of various characteristics of the Chinese, Hindu, Sumatran and Malay cultures.

The Chinese character of double happiness carvings and a rostrum are obvious evidences of close connection with the Chinese architecture during the olden days,” explained the person-in-charge at the southern region Department of Museums Iesnordin Hj. Malan, during the Melaka Cultural Heritage Tour in July organised by Friends of Melaka Museum.

Also responsible for the mosque’s reconstruction in 1999, Iesnordin attended the activities held on 13 July 1999 that saw the participation of people from various ethnic groups such as Chinese, Muslims, Hindus, Nyonyas, Chettis, and French residing in Malaysia.

After refurbishment

“Tiles carvings on the roof of the mosque is identical to the ones in Cheng Hoon Temple but were concealed with white spray after the refurbishment,” said Iesnordin.

The mosque was built on a square site supported by four symmetrical arches made of “kayu berlian” in the prayer hall. Coral made flower-shaped bunga kesidang ornaments adorned the roof while Dutch tiles were used as roof tiles.

Kampung Kling Mosque was originally built in wood in 1748 and later reconstructed in bricks in 1872. It was subsequently refurbished in 1908 using Dutch roof tiles with a pagoda-like minaret like in Kampung Hulu Mosque. The latest conservation works were carried out in 1999.

“Most people were curious why there were two mosques built within the same area. From what I understand they could belong to different ethnics communities. The Kampung Kling Mosque was named this way because it was erected by Indian Muslims.

“Secondly, Kampung Hulu Mosque was supposed to be demolished by the colonial government and be replaced with a new one but the plan was later cancelled,” said Iesnordin.

Muslim living

A key speaker in Islamic living, retired teacher Hajjah Nasri Abbas said she remained adhered to the Islamic faith even after she came into contact with people of different religions during her studies in the United States.

“Among the five rules set by the mosque, one is to attend the Hajj pilgrimage at least once in a lifetime. The children or relatives could be the representatives if a Muslim is incapable of carrying out the duty,” said Abbas.

In order to form a good rapport between Muslims and non-Muslims, some non-Muslims would tend to greet Muslims by saying “Assalamuailam.” However, Abbas said this is not appropriate as it means “may peace be with you” in Quran.

Abbas added that Muslims pray five times a day just like talking to Allah over the phone. The length of prayers for each session is different. Shorter prayers are practised in the pre-dawn at 5.51a.m. as well as in the evening at 4.30p.m.

Abbas pointed out further that Muslims are encouraged to pray more than five times a day. The prayers could be carried out at home or in praying rooms (surau). However, Muslim men must visit the mosque every Friday to pray with the public. No short pants or undergarments are allowed inside the mosque.

“As for Muslim women, prayers are normally carried out in their private rooms at home. Women should not be seen too often inside the mosque to avoid unnecessary distractions to the men. Due to this reason, females should put on their exclusive prayers costume concealing their whole bodies except face and hands.

“In Afghanistan, females have to cover their face and eyes as well and are not allowed to pray during their menstrual periods, ” said Abbas.

New members welcome

Newly appointed Chairman of Friends of Melaka Museums, Haji Shaukani Abbas said the association is a non-government organisation set up long ago. The monthly Melaka Cultural Heritage Tour has so far been organised three times after he took over as chairman.

The organisation offers a lot of perks such as free entrance to museums, discounted prices for museum-related products and access to museum library for reading and research purposes.

The objective is to provide local people with an opportunity and platform to participate, promote and protect our cultural heritage, and strengthen the relationship between the communities with the museums through leisure activities.

Members of the public are welcome to join as members. Membership fees and contact details are as follows:

Individual membership: RM10 per annum
Children: RM2 per annum
Foreign membership: RM10 per annum
Lifetime membership: RM100
Enrolment fees: RM5

Please call 012-612 0618 or 06-282 6526/06-281 1289 for details.

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Cuisine in Melaka


Untiring commitment for Cantonese opera
MyKampung  2011-08-05 12:49

Performing for the first time in Malacca’s Cheng Hoon Teng Temple, Qian Qiu Le Cantonese opera troupe members are giving the audience a stunning performance. Photo courtesy: Sin Chew Daily
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Translated by Chan Li Lin
Sin Chew Daily

MALACCA, July 17 – Applying heavy make-up before unleashing their full potential. Settling into respective roles before skillfully and freely expressing their emotions in a world of fantasy. These pretty much sum up the career and lives of Cantonese opera performers.

For the artists, it doesn’t matter whether 10 years, 20 years or 30 years of their lives have been spent performing on stage. Their untiring commitment and passion for the art are what it counts. Unless the members of audience have grown tired of their faces and performances, they will not change the course of their career.

Are Cantonese opera actors concerned that the number of their audience is declining? According to them, even if there are only three spectators, they will still happily put on a good show.

This is the charm of opera. Those who are interested in it will remain so for the rest of their lives. They will not easily grow tired of it.

The so-called “tuk tuk qiang” opera was at its pinnacle in Malaysia between the 40’s and 70’s. In the eyes of youngsters nowadays, however, it is nothing more than “antique”, or a show dedicated to God.

Qian Qiu Le Cantonese opera troupe started performing on July 16

For the current generation, there is not much difference between Cantonese opera and Taiwanese opera.

In recent years, Cheng Hoon Teng Temple has been making arrangements for Cantonese and Taiwanese opera troupes to perform in its premise. The shows manage to bring back memories for the older generation, as well as spark the interest in the art form among the new generation.

In view of this, Qian Qiu Le Cantonese opera troupe was, for the first time, invited to perform at Cheng Hoon Teng Temple from July 16-19. The cast included performers from Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia.

He Bo: Response from audience is the best reward

According to He Bo, a Cantonese opera actor from Hong Kong, he could still play the role of a 20 year-old although he was almost 60. He enjoyed settling into different characters and performed on stage after applying make-up.

“The ability to take on different roles is the biggest joy of performing and I’ll remain happy even after the shows have come to an end. Having so many scripts to memorize, I certainly will not contract Alzheimer’s disease too,” he said.

For He, the experience of being part of Cantonese opera was invaluable. He loved the shows and the response from his audience is the best reward for him.

Previously working as an officer in the Hong Kong Identification Services Bureau, He joint the Cantonese opera troupe when he was 40 years old. 20 years had since passed and he still enjoys tackling various roles, including those of a male, female, ugly man, crazy man and young scholar. Embracing his work and passion with professionalism, he sports a big smile whenever he talks about Cantonese opera.

He had previously performed in Malaysia but it was the first time he put up a show in Cheng Hoon Teng Temple. The beautiful stage with carvings has deeply impressed him.

Intense competitition in Hong Kong

He said, Cantonese opera troupes are facing stiff competition in Hong Kong and there is no shortage of demand for this kind of performance. In Singapore, it remains popular while in Malaysia, the shows are commonly found in Ipoh and Kuala Lumpur.

“The invitation has gifted us another opportunity to perform. The size of the dressing room is not an issue,” he said.

Actors have no age limit

Zhang Qian-hui, the leader of Qian Qiu Le Cantonese opera troupe started to get involved in Cantonese opera when he was 13 years old. In the beginning, he only took the roles of “extra” but managed to get increasingly important roles later and subsequently took over as the leader of the troupe.

He said, there is no age limit for opera actors, as they can be part of the shows for as long as they want. If the spectators have grown tired of the performers, they can switch roles or even work behind the scene.

“Though the life on stage is not easy, there shouldn’t be any problem if you have the interest,” Zhang said, adding that he hoped his troupe could have a nationwide tour in Malaysia to promote the art of Cantonese opera. No matter how remote the places are, the troupe would still perform there as what it valued the most were audience acceptance and interest in it.

Show will last for more than three hours

Zhang said, the show will last for over three hours with a 10-minute interval, when actors could change their costumes and apply make-up.

He said, male actors needed 20-30 minutes to apply make-up while female performers needed some 45 minutes.

He hoped that the troupe could give a wonderful performance in Malacca, which was gazetted as a world heritage site.

Anticipating crowd with the same passion

Xu Pei-shan, an experienced opera artist who performs in Singapore and Malaysia said, she performed in Malacca more than a decade ago. The show received overwhelming response but she was not sure if her upcoming show was going to generate the same effect.

Having previously performed in Batu Gajah, Ipoh, she also performs in Singapore on a regular basis. On the shows in Singapore, she said they managed to attract the interest of senior citizens, middle-aged group, as well as youths. By performing in Cheng Hoon Teng Temple this time, she hoped the troupe could give a wonderful show and spark the interest in Cantonese opera.

Costumes are “prized possession”

Xu loves being part of the opera shows. In the two decades of her acting career, she, along with each and every other performer, had given their best efforts no matter how many spectators had showed up to watch them perform. This is the fighting spirit of the artists.

When travelling, the performers would take good care of their prized possession – their costumes, which were custom-made in Hong Kong or China. They were bright in colours and seamlessly made.

When asked if it was difficult to remember the script, she said she had memorized it before going on stage. Besides, she had struck a chord with her fellow artists and co-operated well with them.

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