Learn on the go. Check out our playlists for collections of short videos, and learning packages for articles, that will give you a slice of history and heritage.
A collection of short videos or selected podcasts, exploring culture and customs topics among Singapore’s ethnic groups.
Playlist: Chinese Customs and Culture
When Chinese immigrants first left their homelands for Singapore in the 1800s in search of jobs and new opportunities, they brought along with them their culture, traditions, and customs to aid in the transition to a new land. These traditions and customs eventually became the foundations of Singapore’s Chinese culture.
Over the decades, Chinese Singaporeans’ understandings and practice of Chinese culture and customs have evolved along with the cogs of modernisation. While certain practices have vanished with time, some are still practiced today.
Check out the videos below to learn more about various aspects of Singapore’s Chinese culture and customs.
The Many Misconceptions of Chinese Weddings – SOLVED | Real Talk by MOSG (4 mins)
Bling, a newly minted bride, speaks with Mrs Lee, a veteran in the traditional Chinese wedding gifts and goods scene, to find out more about the significance of the various wedding rituals she did on her big day.
Source: The Many Misconceptions of Chinese Weddings – SOLVED (2019, July 22). Real Talk by MOSG. Retrieved 2023, April 14.
Keeping Traditions Alive: We Are Family 保留传统习俗: 清明时节爱加温 | Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre – SCCC (5 mins)
Join two families during the Qingming festival and learn about the festival’s significance, how the rituals are performed, and efforts to keep this tradition going for the next generation.
Source: Keeping Traditions Alive: We Are Family 保留传统习俗： 清明时节爱加温 (2021, April 1). Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre – SCCC. Retrieved 2023, April 14.
Teochew Culture – Documentary | Sarah Choo (13 mins)
This short documentary on Teochew culture was commissioned for Ngee Ann Kongsi. It introduces viewers to uniquely Teochew cultural practices such as the coming-of-age ceremony, and covers how Teochew people observe marriage practices, birth rites as well as ancestral rituals.
Source: Teochew Culture – Documentary (2019, June 2). Sarah Choo. Retrieved 2023, April 14.
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Playlist: Malay Customs and Culture
Malays are the original settlers and the second largest ethnic group in Singapore. The Malays and their ancestors mostly arrived from peninsular Malaya, and from various parts of the Indonesian archipelago.
Majority of Malays are Muslims and they celebrate key festivals like Hari Raya Puasa and Hari Raya Haji.
Check out the videos below to learn more about various aspects of Singapore’s Malay culture and customs.
Malay weddings | by Singapore International Foundation (4 mins)
Introduces the customs and traditions of Malay weddings in Singapore.
Source: Malay weddings (2010, August 10). Malay weddings by Singapore International Foundation. Retrieved 2023, May 11.
Let's Learn About Ramadan and Hari Raya Puasa! | Malay Heritage Centre (21 mins)
Join the Malay dance group ATTRIANS Singapore in this video to learn more about the festival, traditional Malay outfits, common festival dishes and songs.
Source: Let's Learn About Ramadan and Hari Raya Puasa! (2020, April 29). Malay Heritage Centre. Retrieved 2023, May 11.
5 Different Style of Wearing the Samping | Malay Heritage Centre (4 mins)
A demonstration of the different ways of wearing samping, a traditional Malay costume that is like a short sarong worn after wearing Baju Kurung or Baju Melayu and covers from waist to the knees only.
Source: 5 Different Style of Wearing the Samping (2020, June 29). Malay Heritage Centre. Retrieved 2023, May 11.
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Playlist: Indian Culture and Customs
From Indian clothes, gold ornaments, traditional dishes, herbal medicines, arts, architecture to the etiquette of daily routines, you can observe symbols and significance of Indian beliefs and rituals in every aspect of an Indian’s life. The Indian community in Singapore has, till today, preserved many of these customs and cultural practices, which originated from diverse communities of the Indian subcontinent.
Check out the videos below to learn more about various aspects of Singapore’s Indian culture and customs.
Importance of RANGOLI | Traditional, Cultural, Scientific & Historical Significance | Diwali Rangoli | by Timeless Wisdom - Food & Lifestyle (5 mins)
This video highlights the traditional, cultural, historical significance of Rangoli and explains about its importance in Indian Vedic culture and its positive influence on the mind.
Source: Importance of RANGOLI | Traditional, Cultural, Scientific & Historical Significance | Diwali Rangoli (2020, September 19). Timeless Wisdom - Food & Lifestyle. Retrieved 2023, May 23.
Do you know? - Why do we light a lamp? | Importance Of Lamp | Interesting Facts About Lamp | by Rajshri Soul (2 mins)
This video highlights interesting facts about lighting a lamp, which is considered to be auspicious in various Hindu customs and traditions. It explores why this age-old Indian practice is believed to spread peace during important occasions.
Source: Do you know? - Why do we light a lamp? | Importance of Lamp | Interesting Facts About Lamp (2018, January 17). Rajshri Soul. Retrieved 2023, May 23.
Do you know? - Why do we do Namaste? | Interesting Facts & Importance About Namaste | by Rajshri Soul (3 mins)
This video explores Namaste, the formal and respectful way of Indian greeting. Many would have encountered this practice during meditation and yoga sessions, perhaps without understanding the significance behind the gesture. This video helps us to understand the reason for this way of greeting.
Source: Do you know? - Why do we do Namaste? | Interesting Facts & Importance About Namaste (2018, May 28). Rajshri Soul. Retrieved 2023, May 23.
Significance of Touching Feet in Hinduism | Indian Tradition | Science Behind Touching Feet In India | by Artha (2 mins)
Bowing down and falling at the feet of the elders is a commonsight at every wedding and other auspicious Indian rituals and festivals. This video sheds some light on the meaning behind this practice.
Source: Significance of Touching Feet in Hinduism | Indian Tradition | Science Behind Touching Feet in India (2017, October 29). Artha. Retrieved 2023, May 23.
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Playlist: Eurasian Culture and Customs
Eurasians are descendants of hundreds of years of intermarriage between the Europeans and Asians. Majority of Singapore’s Eurasians originated from the European colonisation of Asia which began during the 16th century. Most Eurasians in Singapore can trace the European part of their paternal ancestry to primarily the Portuguese, Dutch and British. The Asian component of their maternal ancestry is largely Chinese, Malays, Indians, Thai, Burmese and Indonesian.
Majority of Eurasians in Singapore have Portuguese-Malaccan ancestry, resulting in a strong Portuguese influence in local Eurasian culture.
Check out the videos below to learn more about various aspects of Singapore’s Eurasian culture and customs.
Community Association Series: Eurasian Association | by SG HeritageFest (8 mins)
An introduction to the Singapore Eurasian Association, highlighting its formation, unique aspects of the Eurasian culture, little known medicinal properties of spices used in traditional Eurasian home remedies, and how to cook Kristang stew.
Source: Community Association Series: Eurasian Association (2022, November 17). SG HeritageFest. Retrieved 2023, June 15.
I am Eurasian | Sheena Gow (10 mins)
This is a film entry for the Singapore Heritage Short Film Competition in 2015. Several Singapore Eurasians were interviewed in the film. They shared about the history of Eurasians in Singapore and their unique culture.
Source: I am Eurasian (2015, October 27). Sheena Gow. Retrieved 2023, June 15.
5 Kristang - Reviving a Forgotten Language | Andre D'Rozario | TEDxYouth@SJII (23 mins)
Andre D'rozario is of Portuguese and Dutch-Eurasian descent. Kristang is a language once spoken by the Eurasian communities in Malaysia and Singapore. Andrea shared about the language and Kodrah Kristang initiative that strives to revive the language.
Source: Kristang - Reviving a Forgotten Language (2019, July 4). Andre D'Rozario | TEDxYouth@SJII. Retrieved 2023, June 15.
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Chinese Customs and Culture
Chinese immigrants first arrived in Singapore from China in the 1800s in search of jobs and new opportunities. Besides a little money and the clothes on their backs, they also brought along with them the culture, traditions, and customs from their homelands to Singapore.
Chinese Singaporeans’ knowledge and practice of these culture and customs have evolved alongside Singapore’s modernisation over the decades. While certain practices have vanished with time, some are still in practice. These aspects of tangible and intangible Chinese heritage form a significant part of the Chinese identity in Singapore today.
Did you know...
- Many Chinese customs and rites were developed and first practiced by a largely agrarian society, which may explain why some may seem irrelevant in today’s modern society.
Check out this set of articles and books to gain a better understanding of Chinese customs and culture in Singapore.
Learn more about how and why we practice certain Chinese New Year customs in Singapore.
Source: Chinese New Year customs in Singapore(2018).Singapore Infopedia. Retrieved 2023, April 14.
Chinese wedding customs and traditions vary slightly according to dialect groups. This article provides a brief overview of the common customary rites that are practiced on the eve of the wedding and wedding day.
Source: Chinese weddings (2016).Singapore Infopedia. Retrieved 2023, April 14.
Qing Ming Jie is a festival that falls in early April. During the festival, people visit ancestors’ graves at cemeteries and columbaria with food and other offerings to mark this period of remembrance.
Source: Qing Ming Jie (All Souls’ Day)(2014). Singapore Infopedia. Retrieved 2023, April 14.
Chinese customs and festivals in Singapore
Singapore Federation of Chinese Clan Associations. (1989). Chinese customs and festivals in Singapore. Singapore: Singapore Federation of Chinese Clan Associations. (Call no.: RSING 390.08995105957 CHI)
This handbook was produced by the Singapore Federation of Chinese Clan Associations in 1989 in response to the declining interest in Chinese traditional practices among younger Singaporeans. It explains and describes the observation of eight major Chinese festivals, such as Chinese New Year and Mid-Autumn Festival, and covers the customs and rituals associated with births, weddings, and funerals. Written in English and Chinese text.
Through the bamboo window: Chinese life & culture in 1950s, Singapore & Malaya
Comber, Leon. (2009). Through the bamboo window: Chinese life & culture in 1950s, Singapore & Malaya. Singapore: Talisman and Singapore Heritage Society. (Call no.: RSING 390.08995105951 COM)
This book was originally written in the late 1950s and aims to provide simple, easy-to-read, accounts about Chinese life and customs in Singapore and Malaya. Topics include Chinese festivals celebrated in Malaya, Chinese superstitions in Malaya, Chinese ancestor worship in Malaya, and Chinese temples in Singapore.
Choi! Touchwood! A walk through Singapore's Chinatown: A journey in Chinese traditions, superstitions, myths and taboos
Liew, Jie Ni and Jesvin Yeo, eds. (2010). Choi! Touchwood! A walk through Singapore’s Chinatown: A journey in Chinese traditions, superstitions, myths and taboos. Singapore: Basheer Graphic Books. (Call no.: RSING 398.41089951 CHO)
A colourfully illustrated Chinatown guidebook littered with tips and trivia on Singapore Chinese customs, superstitions, and cultural beliefs.
Reviving Qixi: Singapore’s forgotten seven sisters festival
Wong, Lynn Yuqing and Lee Kok Leong. (2022). Reviving Qixi: Singapore’s forgotten seven sisters festival. Singapore: Renforest Publishing. (Call no.: RSING 394.2695957 WON)
The Qixi Festival, also known as the Cowherd and Weaving Maid Festival, was an important traditional Chinese festival for girls and women in Singapore. This book explores the origins of the festival, how it was introduced and practiced in Singapore, its eventual disappearance, and efforts to revive it today.
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Malay Customs and Culture
Malay Singaporeans are the second largest ethnic group in this multi-ethnic country. The Malays and their ancestors largely arrived from peninsular Malaya, and from various parts of the Indonesian archipelago.
The diversity within the Malay community enriches Singapore's heritage and culture. The cultures, traditions and practices that have passed down from generation to generation, have evolved with time to remain relevant and meaningful.
Did you know...
- Orang Laut (Malay for "sea people" or "people of the sea") used to play an important role in Malay political history. Over time, they were assimilated into the Malay culture, converted to Islam and became ethnically identified as Malay.
Check out this set of articles and books to gain a better understanding of Malay culture and customs in Singapore.
The Orang Laut were nomadic sea gypsies who occupied the maritime zone surrounding the Strait of Melaka. As skilled mariners, they used to play an important role in Malay political history.
Source: Orang Laut (2020)Singapore Infopedia. Retrieved 2023, May 11.
This article describes the stages involved in the festive, grand and celebratory Malay wedding, including the dos and don'ts.
Source: Malay Muslim Marriages (2014). Singapore Infopedia. Retrieved 2023, May 11.
Malay culture: customs and beliefs
Education Department, Ministry of Defence. (Comp.). (1993). Malay culture: customs and beliefs. Singapore: Education Department, Ministry of Defence. (Call No.: RCLOS 305.89928 MAL-[LYF])
With the aim of promoting the learning of the Malay language, the Education Department compiled this handy reference with some insight into the Malay cultural background.
Gateway to Malay culture
Asiapac Editorial. (2003). Gateway to Malay culture Singapore: Asiapac. (Call no.: RSING 305.89928 GAT)
Enjoying its 5th reprint in 2010, this book introduces the readers an overall look at the various aspects of the Malay culture. It covers topics such as their lifestyle, religious and cultural activities.
The Singapore ethnic mosaic: many cultures, one people
Mathew Mathews. (Ed.). (2017).. The Singapore ethnic mosaic: many cultures, one people. Singapore: World Scientific. (Call no.: RSING 305.80095957 SIN)
Chapter 4 by Suriani Suratman and Siti Hajar Esa titled Malay Community and Culture in Singapore, introduces the Malay customs and traditions. The chapter also mentions Javanese culture, Baweanese culture and traditions, Minangkabau culture and traditions, Bugis culture and Arab culture.
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Indian Customs and Culture
Aspects of Indian custom and culture have been preserved in many parts of Southeast Asia today. Some of these have evolved with time to cater to the ever-changing needs of our daily lives.
In Singapore too, we witness a trend of change and continuity in some of these traditional beliefs and practices. Those that are continued and preserved with time, though may seem symbolic in nature, are usually backed up by both spirituality and science.
Did you know...
- The name India was derived from the word ‘Sindhu’. Sindhu is the name of the Indus River, one of the longest rivers in the world that runs from southwestern Tibet to the Arabian Sea. Interestingly, the practice of neighbouring people in the Middle East of pronouncing the ‘s’ as 'h' ended up with the name ‘Hindu’ instead. The English term ‘India’ was borrowed from Greek, in which ‘India’ refers to the region beyond the Indus River. Therefore, the collective term ‘Indian’ was used by the British to refer to the descendants of people who originated from this region.
Check out this set of articles and books to gain a better understanding of the Indian culture and customs in Singapore.
The arrival of a new baby in any household, is an occasion for celebration. The Indian traditional ceremonies start before the baby is born and may continue for up to a year after the child’s birth. This article brings us through the various rituals and customs observed during this period of time.
Source: Indian birth rituals (2016)Singapore Infopedia. Retrieved 2023, May 23.
The art of paan or betel chewing dates back to the pre-Vedic Saivite Harappan empire. This article brings us through the origin of this practice and its usage among the Indian community in Singapore.
Source: Betel chewing (2017). Singapore Infopedia. Retrieved 2023, May 23.
An ABC of Indian culture: a personal padayatra of half a century into India
Peggy Holroyde. (2007). An ABC of Indian culture: a personal padayatra of half a century into India. Usmanpura, Ahmedabad, India: Mapinlit. (Call No.: R 954 HOL)
This book is an interpretation of 400 Indian concepts and practices derived from a personal exploration of Indian customs and culture over a period of 50 years.
Gateway to Indian culture
Chitra Soundar. (1994). Gateway to Indian culture Singapore: Asiapac. (Call no.: RSING 305.891411 CHI)
This book starts off with the origin of the Indian religious and social customs and tracks down its evolution into a spicy blend of traditions, religions and languages, derived from the diverse states of India.
Traditions: a complete book of Indian arts and crafts motifs, special reference to rangoli design
Neelam Verma. (2005). Traditions: a complete book of Indian arts and crafts motifs, special reference to rangoli design. Mumbai: English Edition Publishers and Distributors. (Call no.: RART 745.0954 VER)
This unique book brings to you a compilation of Rangoli designs based on traditional Indian motifs, symbolising significant cultural and religious significance.
South Indian Hindu festivals and traditions
Maithily Jagannathan. (2005). South Indian Hindu festivals and traditions New Delhi: Abhinav Publications. (Call no.: R 294.536 MAI)
This book on Hindu customs and traditions puts together everyday beliefs, practices, observances and etiquette of Indians. It explores the intricate links between these customs and legend, history, philosophy and folklores.
New place, old ways: essays on Indian society and culture in modern Singapore
Anthony R Walker. (1994). New place, old ways: essays on Indian society and culture in modern Singapore. Delhi: Hindustan Pub. Corp. (Call no.: RSING 305.894805957 NEW)
This book focuses on the ornate Hindu temples and shrines, public displays of Indian religiosity, diverse Indian traditions observed in Singapore.
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Eurasian Culture and Customs
According to the Singapore Census of Population 2020, there are about 18,000 Eurasians in Singapore. A mix of European and Asian ancestry, this small minority ethnic group is one of Singapore's earliest residents.
Majority of Singapore Eurasians have Portuguese-Malaccan ancestry, resulting in a strong Portuguese influence in their culture.
Did you know...
- The Singapore Recreation Club is founded by members of the Eurasian community in 1883. It began as a men's only sports club until 1955 when the club was opened to non-Eurasians.
Check out this set of articles and books to gain a better understanding of Eurasian culture and customs in Singapore.
Traces the history of the club where cricket was the main sport played at the club by Eurasian members.
Source: Singapore Recreation Club (2020)Singapore Infopedia. Retrieved 2023, June 15.
Introduces the Eurasian community, their occupations during colonial period, their associations, cultural practices, famous personalities, and the Eurasian enclaves during colonial period.
Source: Eurasian community (2014). Singapore Infopedia. Retrieved 2023, June 15.
Standing the test of time: celebrating 100 years of the Eurasian Association, Singapore
Eurasian Association (Singapore). (2022). Standing the test of time: celebrating 100 years of the Eurasian Association, Singapore. Singapore: Straits Times Press. (Call No.: RSING 305.80405957 STA)
The Eurasian Association, Singapore, serves as the custodian for Eurasian culture and heritage. Chapter 5, titled Keeping Heritage and Culture Alive, highlights the Eurasian dance, food and language.
Gateway to Eurasian culture
Asiapac Editorial. (2003). Gateway to Eurasian culture. Singapore: Asiapac. (Call no.: RSING 305.804 GAT)
This book introduces the Singapore Eurasian community, one of the minority ethnic groups, and their customs, culture and traditions.
Singapore Eurasians: memories, hopes and dreams
Myrna Braga-Blake, Ann Ebert-Oehlers, Alexius A. Pereira. (Eds.). (2017). Singapore Eurasians: memories, hopes and dreams. Singapore: World Scientific. (Call no.: RSING 305.80095957 SIN)
Chapter 10 by Evelyn Lelcester-Rodrigues titled Rites and Festivals: Customs and Practices of Yesteryear, introduces the Eurasian customs and traditions.
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