MALACCA: Despite decked by modest commercial sponsorship, the three-day celebration to commemorate Festa San Pedro (Feast of St. Peter) at the Portuguese Settlement still savoured highlights and moments in glorious fashion.
The 1934-establish community village at Ujong Pasir was a hive of activities comprising live on stage traditional community music and dance presentations by in-house young talents, vocalists and bands, food, fun, souvenir and household merchandise fares over three nights (June 27-29).
The customary sacred and religious aspects, comprising a thanksgiving Eucharistic Celebration at the settlement’s Our Lady of Immaculate Conception Chapel, a late evening procession bearing the statue of St. Peter and the blessing of the gaily decorated fishing boats were in store in the late evening of June 29.
According to Micheal Singho, the president of the Malacca Portuguese-Eurasian Association (MPEA) the annual festivities upholds St. Peter, who is described as the patron saint of fishermen. Its significance dates back to the time when fishing and shrimp harvesting together with related industries like the making of nets, boats and repairs, the setting up evening fresh fish markets stalls were main livelihood means of community residents at the settlement, Kampongs Praya Lane and Tengah off Banda Hilir between the 1930 and the mid-1960s.
He said: “This festival became part and parcel of our lives because our ancestors were fishermen in the good old days. We, the present generation have a duty to see the feast day and related festivities kept alive and cherished. The festivities directly or indirectly, bring relief to retired fishermen and those still involved in the trade which currently number around 80, both in part and full-time capacities.
It is also a time for them to forget their regular grind and toil and to re-live the glory days of their ancestors.”
The thanksgiving Eucharistic Celebration, procession and blessing of the decorated fishing boats, demonstrate requests for God’s grace for bountiful catches for those who depend on the sea for their livelihood and to guide them through the “storms of life” whether at sea or on land, noted 76-year-old Gregory De Roche a senior settlement resident and semi-retired fisherman.
Like Festa San Juan (Feast of St. John the Baptist) celebrated with much gusto and reverence at the settlement on June 23, Festa San Pedro are both listed on the state’s tourism calendar by the Tourism Ministry, noted Singho.
Overall, the festivities witnessed some 2,000 settlement residents young and old joined hands with local and outstation visitors and tourists converging to catch glimpses of solemn and religious rituals and ceremonies, catching up on authentic home cooked Portuguese-Eurasian cuisine and foodstuff and traditional, cultural events and activities all awash with piety, pomp, colour, variety and gaiety.