Tune into heritage

The Indian Heritage Centre in Campbell Lane will soon have new artefacts on display. More than a hundred community-donated or loaned items from Indian pioneers will be added to its existing collection. A selection will be featured across the centre's permanent galleries from next year. The museum has drawn 150,742 visitors from its opening in May, to the end of September. Melody Zaccheus takes a look at some of the highlights.

Left: Nagoya Harp. Right: Mridangam and Tambura..
Left: Nagoya Harp. Right: Mridangam and Tambura.. ST PHOTOS: ONG WEE JIN


This musical instrument belonged to the late Shri Retnam, a prominent musician who arrived in Singapore in 1929. He popularised its use in Indian classical music. Shri Retnam performed with Bhaskar's Academy of Dance and Radio Television Singapore during his career. The instrument was donated by his son Ghanavenothan Retnam (right), 53, a music director and music educator.


Twin sisters Chandrakala Kunaseelan, holding a double-headed drum called mridangam, and Shashikala Samugan Nathan, holding a long-necked plucked string instrument called tambura. The former is a housewife and the latter, an administrator. The 43-year-old granddaughters of the late percussionist M.V. Gurusamy donated his instruments to the Indian Heritage Centre. Their grandfather had performed and taught in Malaya in the 1930s and early 40s. He arrived in Singapore in 1942 and participated actively in the Indian classical music scene. He was also a member of the cultural contingent led by then Minister for Culture S. Rajaratnam, which performed in Sarawak, Brunei and Sabah in 1965.


These were presented to theatre artist Madanavelu Pillai in recognition of his performances and productions in Malaya and Singapore from the 1920s to 1960s. They were donated by his granddaughter Gayathri Roy.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 16, 2015, with the headline 'Tune into heritage'. Subscribe