Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Taboo's In Baba Nyonya culture

Now i going to touch a bit about baba nyonya ... OK what is the defination of baba nyonya ?
The word "Peranakan" is also commonly used to describe Indonesian Chinese back in those days In both Malaysia and Indonesia local languages, "Peranakan” means descendant. "Baba" refers to the male descendants and "Nyonya" the female.

This is the general information that i found In most the resource but i m quiet interested in finding what is the TABOO of baba nyonya, it make me curious that why until now they still follow this kind of liture ?there are many taboo in different kind of situation in baba nyonya culture. Let say about !

Taboos in Baba Nyonya Marriages

there were a few of taboo In marriage that need to be follow, example :

* Pregnant women are prohibited to touch the items (gift, stuffs, wedding beds etc) or join in the preparations for the marriage ceremony. They are also strongly prohibited from entering the wedding chamber!

* Ever fearful of demons on her wedding day, over her wedding gown the Nyonya bride wore a Phoenix collar - an embroidered multilayered neck band with long tassels and ribbons dangling down the back from which small reflecting mirrors hung, facing away from the bride to protect her against evil spirits.

* If you have just given birth and have not celebrated the baby’s full moon, the mother and baby are not allowed to join in the marriage celebration or should I say they are not allowed to step in the front door of the groom and bride to be’s house! Even the family members staying in the same house are not welcomed as they are also deemed as “not cleansed“ yet until the baby’s “Full Moon“ celebration.

* Family members who are still mourning the passing away of their family member are also not allowed to join the Peranakan Marriage ceremony as it was deemed very inauspicious to the marriage couple.

* It is a major offences to the peranakan family during the olden days if the guests are wearing a whole black attire or white attire while joining the marriage ceremony as these attire are strictly mend for “sorrow occasion“ or funeral attir

here were some information that i found out about baba nyonya taboo in marriage ..

*At the full lunar month muar-guay ceremony, that is, thirty days after the birth of the child Nyonyas would hold a ceremony whereby nasi kunyit (steamed glutinous tumeric rice), chicken curry and red bean cakes in the shape of tortoises ( ang-koo) together with either ang-t'oe or ang-ee and two red hard-boiled chicken eggs would be offered to the ancestors and the rest distributed to relatives and close friends. This tradition, no doubt influenced to a certain extent by the local Malays in the use of nasi kunyit and curry ayam is still being practised by the Hokkiens today. The muar-guay ceremony also marks the end of the pantang (taboo or abstinence period for the baby's mother) as was also practised by the Malay women after child delivery. The Malays refered to nasi kunyit as pulot kuning or nasi kuning and they used it lavishly at thanksgiving ceremonies (kenduris ).


*Children were often encouraged to stay up late on Chinese New Year eve to usher in the new year and also to promote longevity for the elders and one's parents.

* Ti kuih with lots of love and dedication. So not forgetting, when making this delightful Kuih, there are some taboos or “pantang“ words that need to be observed.You simply have to be mindful of what to say and not asking anything related to cooking.

Why the baba nyonya need to using ti kiuh to chow kong - kitchen of the god

their all believe that Chow Kong made his yearly journey up to heaven to report the happenings, good or bad to the Heavenly God. A bad report by the Kitchen God means a family will suffer from bad luck during the year to come.
So to prevent the Kitchen God from reporting anything bad about the family, we served him with the ever sweet and sticky Kuih Bakul. It is so sticky; he won’t be able to speak fast.

It sound like bribing the god !! haha !!!

*their all belief that spotless clean house and decorated with Chinese New Year decorations. This is to ensure that good fortune will be abundance for the coming year.Believes that the God of Fortune will only visit houses that are clean and tidy!

*the Peranakan do not simply place oranges and pineapples on the altar but tie and decorate the fruits with serrated-patterned red paper before offering it to the gods.

*“sohjah” our elderly as a form of paying respect to them= giving ang pau time !!
During the sohjah , Older ones will say “Pande-pande surat” (be intelligent), “cepat-cepat kahwin” (get married faster) or “cepat-cepat beranak” (Faster give birth to baby) while the younger ones would reply by saying, “panjang-panjang umur” (may you have long life).

*While sweeping the floor, care must be taken to avoid touching anyone with the broom for it was considered bad luck or suay. The offender should say pai and the whole incident would be forgotten. Usually, during the first three days of the Chinese New Year, no sweeping was done for fear that good luck would be swept away.

MORE Taboo in baba nyonya

1. Time was an important factor to the Nyonya. Certain religious rites must he performed within the appointed time or hour otherwise chiong might occur. Time for prayers, time to fetch the bride accompanied by its numerous rituals and time for the hearse to start moving and time for burial were predetermined by the priest performing the funeral rites.

2.If given a knife or any sharp instrument by a friend, or relative, a small red packet (ang pau) must be given in return as a gesture of goodwill so that their friendship might not be severed by the knife. Similarly if given a plant, the gift should be reciprocated by an ang pau.. Good luck or wealth was also attached to the Adenium flower or foo koo hua.

3 .If visitors entered by the front door, they must depart by the same door, otherwise the host's daughter might end up a spinster!

4.At death, all mirrors and other reflecting surfaces were covered or concealed while all household deities were covered with red paper. Superstition and fear had it that the ghost of the deceased might catch the soul of the living relative to accompany it to the underworld

5.Pat kua boards or octagonal mirrors surrounded by the eight trig rams for extra protection were hung above main door-ways. It was believed that evil spirits, approaching with intent to harm, would see themselves reflected in all their hideousness, got so frightened by their own reflection that they scooted off without causing any mischief. This old-fashioned practice prevails to this day.

6.Many a superstitious Nyonya would refuse to have a group photograph taken of her and two others for fear that the one in the centre would be the first to die. It is said that one grandma, upon seeing her grandchild placed in the centre in a group photo, not only gave the child's parents a lecture but unhesitatingly removed the child with a snip of her scissors

7.While the Nyonya generally favoured things in identical pairs such as lanterns, oil lamps, candle stands, vases etc. the mention of the number 4 (see) which has the same sound as ‘death’ is discretely avoided.

8.It was taboo for children to point at the full moon, for which the feared punishment was a cut around the ear by the Moon Goddess

9.Positioning oneself at the corner of the dining table was considered taboo, it was as if a sharp knife was pointed at the person seated there.

10.Cutting one's finger nails, toe nails or hair at night was considered taboo; it seemed that ghosts would pick them up and haunt the owner.

11.Being believers in hong sui (geomancy) the Nyonya believed that in death the best possible site for a grave would be one that chay snuah kn’ua hai (sitting on a hill, viewing the sea). It was believed that living family members and future generations to come would enjoy prosperity and long life if their ancestors occupied such a propitious site.

12.It was considered inappropriate to give a piece of salt fish kiam hoo (which could be a reference to a corpse) to a friend or relative though it would be all right as a cooked dish

Still got alot of information about the taboo of baba and nyonya so the conclusion is all the taboo i found out is mostly In chinese culture i will share more information about the taboo of baba nyonya if you are interested too !!