6,000 flock to see Singapore first Punjabi Mela in 1961

A BLAST FORM THE PAST: Singapore Khalsa Association, under leadership of its then president Choor Singh, organised a massive cultural and social event in 1961


| History | Singapore | 19 Aug 2017 | Asia Samachar |

On this day in 1961, more than 6,000 Sikhs gathered in Singapore for the first Asian ‘Punjabi Mela’ organised by the Singapore Khalsa Association (SKA). It would have been an amazing sight to see Sikhs from Singapore, and probably from neighbouring Malaya, as well, gathering in such huge numbers.

“MORE than 6,000 people thronged the May North and South School in Jalan Kebun Limau last week to see the first South East Asian “Punjabi Mela” (open air culture show and fun fair). The show was organised by the cultural and social section of the Singapore Khalsa Association. It was opened by its president, Mr Choor Singh,” according to a report in the Singapore Free Press (22 August 1961) entitled ‘6,000 flock to see first “Punjabi Mela”‘.

“Many exciting items were presented, including a colourful Punjabi folk dance and the “Ghatka,” the Punjabi art of self-defence. A spokeman for the organising committee said it was a great success, and they hoped to make it an annual event,” the report added.

SKA, established on 8 May 1931, is still at work for the community and had finished organised a major cultural and sporting event for Vaisakhi in April.

The association was the brainchild of a few schoolboys of Raffles Institution during the mid-1920’s. In the absence of a Sikh organisation for sports and culture, these sports enthusiasts took it upon themselves, with the backing of several adults, to establish Khalsa Association, according to information at the SKA website.

In the 1960’s, SKA got its cultural aspect when a group of Sikh youths, enthusiastic in organising cultural activities, affiliated themselves with the association. Amongst the activities conducted were talks emphasising Sikh religion, culture and education, the information added.

The Singapore Free Press, Singapore’s second English-language newspaper after Singapore Chronicle, was published for the first time on 1 October 1835 until 1869. In was revived in 1884. In 1946, it was bought over by The Straits Times and merged with The Malay Mail in 1962.


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