First Kristang festival to celebrate heritage language

Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for National Security Teo Chee Hean met the O Maliao Maliao Dance Troupe at the 1st Kristang Language Festival Gala Dinner at Hotel Fort Canning on May 20, 2017.
Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for National Security Teo Chee Hean met the O Maliao Maliao Dance Troupe at the 1st Kristang Language Festival Gala Dinner at Hotel Fort Canning on May 20, 2017.PHOTO: MCI

SINGAPORE - Kristang may be a dying language, but its few remaining speakers are not letting it go without a fight.

Saturday (May 20) marked the start of Singapore's first Kristang language festival, which aims to celebrate the heritage language spoken by the Portuguese-Eurasian community.

The two-day festival features Kristang language classes for beginners, talks on the language's past and future, and even a Kristang poetry competition.

Its organisers - known as Kodrah Kristang, or Awaken, Kristang - held a gala dinner at Hotel Fort Canning on Saturday night featuring Portuguese-Eurasian cuisine and traditional branyo dances.

Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, who spoke at the dinner, lauded the team for their efforts to preserve their heritage. These include a Kristang board game, online dictionary, and efforts to create modern Kristang words.

"Such ground-up initiatives are welcomed as they reflect the renewed interest among Singaporeans in our culture and heritage," said Mr Teo, who is also Coordinating Minister for National Security.

"Sometimes, we find that matters of race, religion and nationalism have come to the fore and they are being used in a variety of circumstances by people to divide, and to accentuate differences between different groups of people," Mr Teo added. "In Singapore, we have been able to resist these developments and ensure that we come closer together, and celebrate what we have in common."