NYONYAS clad in colourful hand-embroidered kebaya and sarong let their hair down and danced to joget and dondang sayang tunes at the 10th Anniversary Dinner and Joget Party.
The Babas and Nyonyas are famous for their heritage, culture, food as well as their elegant kebaya traditional wear.
Their kebaya is famously known for its intricate motifs such as the phoenix, cherry blossoms, goldfish, peacock and various types of flowers.
The event was organised by the Persatuan Peranakan Baba Nyonya Kuala Lumpur & Selangor (PPBNKLS) and held at the Royal Lake Club at Lake Gardens, Kuala Lumpur.
Besides the Melaka and Penang Peranakan community, the country also has the Kelantan and Terengganu Peranakans, said PPBNKLS president Cedric Tan.
“We all have Chinese names so it is hard to differentiate us from just our names. However, we speak Malay most of the time at home and when we meet another Peranakan. Besides Chinese and Malay, there is also the English and Dutch influence in our culture,” said Tan, who grew up in Tengkera, Melaka.
He added some practices that no longer existed in China were relevant in the lives of the Peranakan in Malaysia.
“We hang four types of medicinal leaves called daun Nyah at the entrance of our houses. We also stick glutinous rice balls on our doors as our way of informing outsiders that everyone in our home is alive and well,” said Tan who has fond memories growing up with his Nyonya paternal grandmother.
“She makes the best Nyonya tarts and her special ingredient was pork lard,” said Tan.
At the anniversary celebration, the association paid tribute to the late Tun Endon Mahmood who promoted the Nyonya kebaya internationally.
The association thanked Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry for its numerous activities and for sponsoring the 26th International Baba Nyonya Convention in Kuala Lumpur.
Currently, the association is renting an office space to store its records and artefacts, but hoped the Ministry would provide a suitable building or land to be converted into a Peranakan Museum as well as an office, activity and resource centre.
Eight of the association’s initiators were acknowledged that night — the late Doris Chee, the late Lee Cheng Yan, Patricia Teh, Normin Shah, Chua Leng Kee, Ee Hock Chuan, Chua Eng Chyre and Betty Chua.
The association is looking forward to printing its first Nyonya cookbook, carrying out more outreach programmes with both public and private universities and staging the first Wayang Peranakan.
Doris Chee’s daughter, Vivienne Lee recollected her childhood in a tribute speech.
“Nyonya mothers expect good manners and instilled it in their children and my mother was no exception.
“Our mothers were also perfectionists and always took the opportunity to incorporate our heritage into our lives,” said Lee who descends from 10 generations of Nyonyas and six generations of Babas.
The event was also attended by the Undersecretary Policy Division (Culture) of Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry Dr Tan Awang Besar.