The love 'freeze' in Orchard Road

Striking the "love" pose to celebrate World Marriage Day are Ms Joyce Mehar and her husband of 19 years, Mr Ronald Khoo, as well as their children, 16-year-old Jeremy and four-year-old Ropheka.
Striking the "love" pose to celebrate World Marriage Day are Ms Joyce Mehar and her husband of 19 years, Mr Ronald Khoo, as well as their children, 16-year-old Jeremy and four-year-old Ropheka. PHOTO: COURTESY OF JOYCE MEHAR

J loves R.

For five minutes, a boy and a girl held these letters as they sat on a picnic mat in the heart of Orchard Road yesterday as onlookers gawked.

But it was no cheesy declaration of affection between lovebirds.

The 16-year-old boy, Jeremy, and four-year-old girl, Ropheka, are siblings who were there with their parents.

"We decided to strike this pose as the kids have the same initials as our names and, symbolically, we wanted to draw them into the love that we share as husband and wife," said Ms Joyce Mehar, 44, a housewife who has been married to accountant Ronald Khoo for 19 years.

The family was among 260 people who "froze", or held a pose for five minutes, at 6pm yesterday in front of Ngee Ann City shopping mall to celebrate World Marriage Day. It is observed on the second Sunday of February every year and, this year, it fell on Valentine's Day.

Said Mr Alphonsus Gregory, coordinator of the non-profit organisation Worldwide Marriage Encounter (Singapore) which put together the flash mob with the support of other family life groups: "With the rising divorce rates and challenges facing marriage and family today, we wanted to send a visible message that there are happy marriages that last a long time in Singapore."

Many other countries have also been celebrating World Marriage Day. The United States, for instance, held church ceremonies in different states for couples to renew their vows.

"Strong families are founded on strong marriages. Despite the economic challenges and other stresses, these couples took the time to build on their marriages that, in turn, stabilise family life," added Mr Gregory. The organisation runs programmes for married couples.

Yesterday, both newlyweds and couples who tied the knot decades ago came up with creative poses to express their love, such as forming a heart shape with outstretched arms. All of them held signs showing the number of years they had been happily married.

Passers-by puzzled at the scene soon found out what was happening from placards that read: "Please do not be alarmed. Just happily married couples having fun."

One participant, beautician Nancy Lim, 76, who has been married for 54 years, said she lives by a few golden rules to ensure wedded bliss.

"Don't argue or shout at each other when the children are around and if there is any misunderstanding, talk and resolve it before you go to bed," advised Madam Lim.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 15, 2016, with the headline 'The love 'freeze' in Orchard Road'. Print Edition | Subscribe