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Charting A Course Through Bugis Culture In Singapore: Malay CultureFest 2017


The Malay Heritage Centre kicked off its annual Malay CultureFest on 13th October with a bang. Opening the festival was a spectacle of stylised dance, ethnic drums and martial arts tracing the roots of the sub-ethnic community from Bugis – from the myth of their creation, to the people’s departure from their homeland after the Makassar War in the 1600s. Titled Aga Kareba, the performance was a visual treat for all at the festive launch, even featuring select performers originating from South Sulawesi.


The two-week long festival shines a spotlight on the unique culture of Bugis heritage and history this year through 24 performances, talks, workshops and movie screenings. For the first time, the festival also navigates beyond the centre’s compound with several guided trails to explore sites related to the history of the Bugis community in Singapore, such as the former Temenggong’s palace at Telok Blangah, and former Bugis urban dwellings in Kampong Gelam.

The Community Curators’ Tour: Sirri na Pesse: Navigating Bugis Identities in Singapore runs on Saturday, 28th October 2017 at 6.00pm at the MHC Gallery 1 & 2, Admission is free with pre-registration on Peatix 

The Kampong Gelam Bugis Trail runs on Saturday, 28th October 2017 at 4.30pm at the Malay Heritage Centre. Tickets available from Peatix


Also not to be missed is the festival’s closing performance by the Malay Heritage Centre’s artist incubation group, Hatch Theatrics. Titled Malam Puteri-Puteri Malang or Night of the Forlorn Princesses, this special one-night performance only features a collaboration with Effendy Ibrahim and will tell the stories of women in the Malay Peninsular.

Malam Puteri-Puteri Malang plays on Saturday, 28 October 2017 at 7pm and 8.30pm in English and Malay. Admission is free with pre-registration from Peatix 


In conjunction with the festival is also the opening of the new exhibition Sirri na Pesse at the Malay Heritage Centre, offering Singaporeans a glimpse into the lives of the smaller Malay sub-ethnic Bugis community.

Titled after the Bugis community values of Honour (Sirri) and Pride (Pesse), the exhibition showcases rare artefacts dating back to the Malay world during the 18th centuries in partnership with the Singapore Bugis community. In total, the exhibition features more than 40 artefacts, including family heirlooms on loan from the Bugis community in Singapore.

Said Guest-of-Honour Mr Baey Yam Keng, Parliamentary Secretary of Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth at the opening celebrations: “Together, the exhibits showcase the tangible and intangible aspects of the rich history and heritage of the Bugis community. They also reflect the community’s connections to the rest of the Malay Archipelago, ad explores the Bugis identity in the context of modern Singapore.”

The Sirri na Pesse exhibition runs from now till 24 June 2018 at the Malay Heritage Centre. Admission is free. 

By Sarah Ling for

Photo Credit: Malay Heritage Centre

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