Singapore cultural group promotes lohei in Shanghai

Staff of Crystal Galleria, a shopping mall in downtown Shanghai, representatives from the Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre and local shoppers partaking in lohei on Feb 11, 2019.
Staff of Crystal Galleria, a shopping mall in downtown Shanghai, representatives from the Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre and local shoppers partaking in lohei on Feb 11, 2019.PHOTO: CRYSTAL GALLERIA AND SINGAPORE CHINESE CULTURAL CENTRE

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

The Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre (SCCC) marked the seventh day of the new year by serving multiple plates of yusheng on a long table inside the mall, for mall staff and shoppers to enjoy.

The SCCC also showcased its specially commissioned lohei-themed red packet illustration that came with an original song at a Chinese New Year event at Crystal Galleria on Monday (Feb 11).

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 New Year's eve to the 15th day of the first 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 composer-pianist Peng Chi Sheng, who composed The Lo Hei Song for the illustration," Mr Low added.

Mr Peng flew in from Singapore to perform The Lo Hei Song and other Singaporean and Chinese New Year numbers with two other Singaporean singers.

Growing up, he said, he thought lohei 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 New Year customs.

"Lohei is such a custom," said Ms Goh.

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

"We are also glad to have representatives from Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre to join us this year on the seventh day of Chinese New Year."