A number of years ago, an Indian friend was elected to head Sri Mariamman Temple which is located at South Bridge Road/Pagoda Street. He observed that although the Temple had been in Chinatown since its foundation , there was very little interaction between members of the Temple and the Chinatown community. He asked me for any suggestion on what the Temple could do with the Chinatown community to promote better relationship and harmony. I recommended that the Temple hosts a Chinese New Year Reunion Dinner for the Chinatown community yearly, particularly for those in the following groups:
– China/Malaysian Chinese workers in Singapore who are unable to return home to have family reunion dinner with the families;
– Singapore Chinese who are homeless or estranged from their families.
It may be difficult/inconvenient for some Singapore Chinese families to host their friends while they were having their own family reunion dinner on the eve of Chinese New Year. The Temple which has not many activities around the time of Chinese New Year would be well placed to host their Chinatown friends and neighbours.
Those who had the opportunity to attend the Temple’s Chinese New Year Reunion Dinners deeply appreciated the warmth and hand of friendship offered to them by their Indian/Hindu friends. The importance and significance of the Chinese New Year family reunion dinner cannot be over-emphasised. For those who are unable to enjoy reunion dinner with their families for a variety of reasons, the reunion hosted by their Indian/Hindu friends is an excellent substitute. The recipients will long cherish this gesture as it is akin to receiving charcoal in a snow field. Getting some warmth when they needed it most.