Malayalis in Singapore showcase 200-plus artefact on community's heritage, culture

Malayalis in Singapore showcase 200-plus artefact on community's heritage, culture

Singapore, Nov 25 (PTI) An exhibition of more than 200 artefact on the heritage, culture and identity of the Malayali community in Singapore opened on Saturday. The exhibition explores the diasporic concept of home through the eyes of Malayalis, who trace their origin to Kerala.

The exhibition -- 'Ente Veedu, My Home: Malayalees in Singapore' -- is the first ever to focus exclusively on the community's heritage, culture and identity, said the Indian Heritage Centre, where the exhibition is being held. It will end on September 15, 2024.

Tracing the journey of the Malayalis -- from their ancestral roots in Kerala, migration to Singapore, and settlement and contributions to the nation -- the exhibition also reflects the community's evolving notions of home and identity.

Featuring more than 200 artefact -- some of which will be on public display for the first time -- from the National Collection, including institutions such as the National Library Board, National Museum of Singapore and the Singapore Press Holdings, as well as the Malayali community, the exhibition examines different aspects of the community's rich heritage.

Dr Anitha Devi Pillai, guest curator and senior lecturer in Applied Linguist at the National Institute of Education/Nanyang Technological University, said, 'Malayali culture is diverse, with a myriad of influences and constituent parts that contribute to its richness.' 'This is much like Singapore's own multi-culturalism. As a researcher, being able to see two decades of my research on the community come alive in an exhibition is a dream come true,' she said.

Pillai further said, 'This exhibition provides an opportunity to present the research as captivating stories for the world, where visitors are invited into the Malayali 'home' to get to the heart of Malayali heritage.' Indian Heritage Centre General Manager Maria Bhavani Dass said, 'In Malayalam, 'ente veedu' means 'my home'. By co-creating this exhibition with the community, we invite all to hear their stories and explore notions of home and identity from the Malayali community's perspective.' 'We hope that visitors to the exhibition will come away with a deeper appreciation of this rich and vibrant culture,' Dass added.

Originating from the south Indian state of Kerala, the Malayalis form the second largest sub-group within Singapore's Indian population.

The community itself is diverse and has been a melting pot of cultures and faiths -- comprising Hindus, Muslims, Syrian Christians, and Roman Catholics, among others -- for centuries.

In the 19th century, the Malayalis' search for better job opportunities outside of their homeland eventually led to them migrating to Singapore and playing a vital role in the country's development. Their contributions span diverse sectors such as health care, community and social services, politics, defence and law.

Indian Heritage Centre Assistant Curator Liviniyah P said, 'In this exhibition, we celebrate the invaluable contributions of the Malayali community to the rich tapestry of Singapore's history. It has been a joy working with the many individuals and groups of the Malayali community who helped put this exhibition together.' He further said, 'They have been extremely generous with their time and contributions and their steadfast dedication to preserving heritage paves the path for future generations to embrace and cherish this vibrant cultural legacy.' PTI GS SZM

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