A taste of Singapore lo hei for shoppers at Shanghai mall

Shoppers and staff of Crystal Galleria, a mall in downtown Shanghai, joining the Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre (SCCC) delegation in tossing yusheng - or lo hei - yesterday, the seventh day of the Chinese New Year. The custom of eating raw fish is
Shoppers and staff of Crystal Galleria, a mall in downtown Shanghai, joining the Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre (SCCC) delegation in tossing yusheng - or lo hei - yesterday, the seventh day of the Chinese New Year. The custom of eating raw fish is believed to have originated in Guangdong in the 19th century, according to SCCC chief executive Low Sze Wee.ST PHOTO: CHONG KOH PING

A Singapore cultural organisation has brought the country's distinctive Chinese New Year practice of tossing raw fish or lo hei to a shopping mall in downtown Shanghai.

The Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre (SCCC) marked the seventh day of the new year by serving yusheng on a long table inside the mall, for the shopping centre's employees and shoppers to enjoy.

The SCCC also showcased its specially commissioned lo hei-themed red packet illustration that came with an original song at yesterday's Chinese New Year event at Crystal Galleria.

Traditionally, Singaporeans celebrated renri, or everyone's birthday, by tossing raw fish for good luck. It is now an activity practised throughout the festive period from the eve of the new year to the 15th day of the first Chinese lunar month.

"The custom of eating raw fish is believed to have originated in Guangdong in the 19th century," said SCCC chief executive Low Sze Wee in a statement.

"Local Cantonese chefs in Singapore in the 1960s then made it into a popular new year dish by including different ingredients and practices.

"This special Singapore custom is now making its way back to China, through this showcase of our local artistes, namely Ah Guo who created the red packet illustration, and pianist Peng Chi Sheng, who composed The Lo Hei Song for the illustration," Mr Low added.

 

Mr Peng performed The Lo Hei Song and other Singaporean and Chinese New Year numbers with two other Singaporean singers.

Growing up, he said, he thought lo hei was a Chinese tradition practised by ethnic Chinese everywhere.

"I didn't know that it doesn't exist in China or other places like Taiwan and Hong Kong," said Mr Peng.

The song is meant to help promote this tradition by teaching those unfamiliar with it the auspicious well-wishes to shout while tossing the raw fish salad.

Ms Khim Goh, regional director of asset management at Phoenix Property Investors, a private equity fund in Hong Kong which owns Crystal Galleria, said the focus of the festive celebrations at the mall is on some of the slowly diminishing or forgotten Chinese New Year customs.

"Lo hei is one such custom," said Ms Goh. "We are also glad to have representatives from Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre to join us this year on the seventh day of the Chinese New Year."

This is the third year that the mall has organised a lo hei event to introduce the practice to its patrons in Shanghai.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 12, 2019, with the headline 'A taste of Singapore lo hei for shoppers at Shanghai mall'. Print Edition | Subscribe