The dying Peranakan culture

Singapore, Malacca and Penang have an amazing thing in common. That is the culturally vibrant community called The Chinese Peranakans. This community which is also known by the name of Baba community or the Straits Chinese community has a heritage dating back to the sixteenth century. ‘Peranakans’ implies ‘locally born or native’ and this term is applicable to anyone born in this part of the region. Along with the Chinese Peranakans there are also ‘Peranakan Jawi’, they are the people born in Arabs, ‘Peranakan Yahudi’ born in Jews and Ceti Peranakan, people born in Southern India whose mother tongue is Malay.

The Lifestyle of Perakanans

During the World War II and the Japanese Occupation (1942-1945), the Peranakan community had to face widespread destruction especially in Malay and Singapore. The war caused such irreparable damages to these communities that a large number of the populace fell into poverty and debt engulfed them. They had to sell off their landed properties in Malaya and Singapore to sustain their livelihood.

The future of Peranakan language and culture is at jeopardy at the present times. There are many threats to the Peranakan culture as rapid urbanization, modernization and westernization along with the mingling of non-Peranakan with the Peranakan through inter-marriage has continued to add as a threat to the subsistence of Peranakan culture. The Peranakan populace in Singapore and Malaysia is decreasing hastily. The young Peranakan populaces are ignorant of their rich culture. The sad part is that such a beautiful and rich culture is disappearing fast and we only hope we should not face such day when only reminiscence of the culture remain with us.


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