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Meet our Communities: The Peranakans of Joo Chiat

The Peranakans are undoubtedly one of SE Asia's most colourful and distinctive communities, which in Singapore consists mainly of a mix of the two rich cultures emanating from the marriage of early Chinese traders with Malay women.

The last few years have seen a huge resurgence of interest in, and identification with, Peranakan - also known as the Straits Chinese - history and heritage.

Their love of colour, patterns and sheer drama is evidenced in their material culture, whether it be their architecture, clothing or even every day cooking items (Peranakan cuisine is a delicious blend of Malay & Chinese and a very important part of their lives).

Not surprisingly, many have excelled in the areas of the arts, as well as having been successful in running businesses.

But who are they and how did this blend of Asian backgrounds coalesce into this vibrant community?

Join us for a walk through one of the most distinctive Peranakan enclaves in Singapore, Joo Chiat. Here we will meet some of their characters and explore their legacy, including the unique pre-war architecture, colourful two-storey shophouses and terrace houses with their ornate facades, intricate motifs and ceramic tiles.

Religion has always played a central role in the Peranakan culture; in earlier days, this was in the shape of Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism - & often a blend of all 3! We will visit one of these 3-in-1 places of worship to see handcrafted, decorated paper objects, commissioned for the departed to enjoy in the spirit world as part of the rituals surrounding ancestor worship with its emphasis on filial piety.

We will also discover Christianity’s impact on the Peranakans in the form of the 1930s Bethesda Church, recently designated as a conservation building, and one of only two Christian churches offering Peranakan church services here.

And let's not forget that delicious food! We'll "graze" on popiahs, visit the famous Red House bakery on our walk and end at the equally famous Glory restaurant, where you can also stay on for an optional lunch.