On the afternoon of July 17, a group of members embarked on a nostalgic trip to rediscover traditional Peranakan Games.
The wonderful aroma of laksa, mee siam, bubor cha-cha & Nonya kueh greeted us as we arrived at Chilli Padi – the Nonya Family Restaurant. There was a good mix of members, young and old. Many were totally unfamiliar with the traditional game of chongkak, while some had vague recollections of playing the game in their childhood.
Chongkak was a popular game played in Peranakan, Malay and Indonesian households. It is a game for two players, who sit facing each other over a chongkak set filled with cowrie shells. Skill and strategy are required to gather as many cowrie shells as possible, to win the game.
We listened intently as the rules of play were explained and demonstrated. We also had fun coaxing our inert hands and feet into playing chatek, five-stones and kuti-kuti. After a few awkward attempts, some players emerged as ‘champions’ in the various games.
The afternoon ended on a happy note with a mini lucky draw. Instead of plastics and gadgetry, prizes were inspired by yesteryears — wooden noise-makers, toy pop-guns and spinning tops.
We often forget that simple games, especially when shared with good friends, provide a welcome respite from the daily grind. Let us strive to keep these simple Peranakan pleasures alive.
Note: An informative booklet Have Fun with Traditional Games published by Peoples’ Association may be found in the reference section of the National Library.