Juru hosts cultural programme

VIBRANT beats of the kompang, Chinese season drum and tabla brought life to the usually quiet Perkampungan Juru in Bukit Mertajam recently. 

The unique fusion of the three musical instruments set the perfect mood as about 3,000 people from all walks of life flocked to the area’s community hall for a special inter-cultural programme. 

Organised by the Penang Culture, Arts and Heritage Department and Juru Local Action Culture and Tourism Working Committee, the event was aimed at showcasing the rich culture, customs and practices of the Malay, Chinese and Indian communities. 

Bukit Tengah assemblyman Ng Siew Lai, who opened the event, was accompanied to the venue by a kompang group which jammed with an Indian nadaswaram troupe soon after. 

The procession grew even louder when prancing lions and Chingay flag-bearers danced to the infectious beats of the season drums. 

Blessing ceremony: Prof Nonini sprinkling 'merenjis mempelai' during the Malay traditional wedding ceremony.

Inside the hall, visitors were treated to made-in-Juru products such as batik paintings, pewter ornaments, cross-stitch material, coconut shell souvenirs and paper art. Visitors also had the opportunity to play congkak and seashell draughts as well as savour some homemade bak chang (rice dumpling) and bubur cha cha (a local dessert). 

The highlight of the event was the holding of mock wedding ceremonies of the Malay, Chinese and Indian communities. 

Three daises were set up on the stage area to depict the cultural identities of the communities. 

The Wawasan Kampung Siam Kompang group led the Malay bridal couple, played by friends Mohd Firdaus Yusof, 18, and Siti Munah Munirah Rasajon, 17, onstage as they belted out three wedding numbers. 

This was followed by the merenjis (blessing of the couple) ceremony by guests. 

Next came the Chinese bridal couple, played by friends Yap Teik Koon, 31, and Syrene Kuan Seeng Leeng, 19, who also took part in a traditional tea drinking ceremony. 

The entourage was preceded by a children’s bridal couple, played by Yeap Zhi Gin, six, who was carried in a palanquin, and Teoh Zi Kang, seven, who walked alongside a group of little warriors. 

The Hindu wedding couple played by husband and wife team – P. Arumugam, 36, and V. Vanithamani, 26, – was on cloud nine as the Loganathan Nadaswaram musical troupe and 40 little children led them to the stage. 

The couple had an actual wedding ceremony performed, complete with the tying of the thaali (wedding string) as they had not organised one since they were registered in 1999. 

Cultural treat: The crowd at a special inter-cultural programme in Juru, Bukit Mertajam, witnessing a mock traditional Chinese wedding.

Besides this, there were also silat, wushu and silambam demonstrations, cultural dances, a batik fashion show and a children’s fashion parade. 

American tourist Prof Dr Donald M. Nonini, 60, said it was culturally enriching to watch some of the traditional practices of the three races showcased under one roof. 

Tadika Kemas Bagan Nyior teacher Puziyah Din said it was her first time witnessing Chinese and Indian wedding ceremonies, adding that she took snapshots to show her pupils. 

Company production manager Lee Seng Keat, 40, said he took video shots of the three weddings to educate his children so that they would have a better understanding of the different cultures. 

Clerk K. Manichselvan, 60, said one of the common practices shared by the three races was the tradition of elders blessing the bridal couple soon after their wedding ceremony.

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