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By Kim Ban Cheo

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This red bunting was made of thin cotton material and the two ends, which were decorated with sequins, lace or baubles, reached almost to the floor on either side of the door. The midportions of these free-hanging drapes were gathered into artistically tied bows, which when fluffed out, formed two bunga teratehs or lotus flowers. This method of tying the chye kee was the Baba style of doing so. When the bunting was in place, the family lanterns or ji-seh teng would be put up. These lanterns were made in Singapore and were different in size, shape and design from the type that are hung in front of Chinese temples.

It was the custom, in those days, for the guests who arrived early to mingle outside the house where the dinner was to be held, since it was considered a sign of greed to sit at a table before dinner was ready to be served. The serunee band, played its part by signalling to the guests when dinner was about to be served. The band would play three times. When it played for the third time, the guests knew that it was proper to take their seats. During the dinner, the serunee band would also play each time a new course was served and since the menu was generally the same for most dinners, passers-by knew, by listening to the melody being played and counting the sequence, what food was being served.

This method of invitation was called hantar sireh. Sang Ih Day also marked the beginning of preparations in earnest. This was the day when the floor was scrubbed, new curtains were hung and the red bunting or chye kee was appended over the main door of the house. This red bunting was made of thin cotton material and the two ends, which were decorated with sequins, lace or baubles, reached almost to the floor on either side of the door. The midportions of these free-hanging drapes were gathered into artistically tied bows, which when fluffed out, formed two bunga teratehs or lotus flowers.

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