Of Ketupat, Town Crying and Scones
Students from the Little Arts Academy and members of the British Commission learnt about one another’s cultures in an afternoon of fun activities.
“The fasting we do before Hari Raya is a spiritual detox.” It was snappy explanations like these by Little Arts Academy student Fadillah that made her presentation about how Hari Raya is celebrated interesting and insightful, even for the Singaporeans listening who thought they already knew about the Muslim festival.
Fadillah’s audience were members of the British Club and the British High Commission, who were there for a cultural exchange as part of SIF’s Little by Little programme in partnership with Little Arts Academy on 31 August 2013. They had given their own presentation on British culture. To liven things up, Fadillah invited two British guests to enact the traditional Hari Raya exchange of forgiveness and blessings. They were then given a demonstration on how to weave ketupat (a woven palm leaf casing for rice dumplings). It turned out to be more challenging than even Fadillah and the other student assistants expected, and both the Singaporean students and the British participants were left with a newfound respect for those who have mastered ketupat-weaving skills.
The students were also treated to a surprise visit by a town crier, who entered clanging a bell and shouting “Hear ye, hear ye!” He told the students all about the Medieval English practice of town criers going from town to town to proclaim the news, “before there were any newspapers or television or Internet.” The kids then had a go at writing their own town crier announcements and shouting them out.
Finally, they had a taste of British culture with a scone-making workshop, conducted by Alberto Torres, Chef to the British High Commissioner. Under Chef Torres’ watchful eye, the students measured, sifted and mixed. Some of them had never tasted or heard of scones before, so when they took a bite out of the fluffy biscuits, hot from the oven and slathered with clotted cream and strawberry jam, it was a perfect introduction.
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