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Lemon and chillies are hung outside a shopfront, believed to help ward off ‘evil forces’ and bring good luck. The study of such
practices is part of a research project on multicultural myths and taboos in Singapore, conducted by a project team led by
Associate Professor Jesvin Puay-Hwa Yeo (NTU).
Image courtesy of Jesvin Puay-Hwa Yeo.

Different communities have different taboos when it comes to attracting good luck and/or repelling bad luck. For example, the Chinese do not use the broom on the first day of Chinese New Year for fear of sweeping away good luck. The Malays do not like their heads touched and the Indians like to add an extra dollar to an entire sum of gift money (for example, $101 or $51) for luck.

These are some of the practices studied by Jesvin Puay-Hwa Yeo, Associate Professor from the Nanyang Technological University (NTU), and her team in a project on myths and taboos amongst Singaporean Malays, Indians and Chinese.

The project, which explores the underlying factors behind Singapore’s multicultural and hybrid myths, is supported by NHB’s Heritage Research Grant. For their project, the team will make oral recordings of interviews in historic ethnic enclaves.