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Move Into Your New House The Singaporean Way

At last, the renovation contractor tells you that your BTO flat or private apartment is ready. Your stuffs are readily packed, and the both of you are feeling super excited to move into your new house right?

As a cosmopolitan city, we are exposed to multi-cultural (East and West) influences on a day-to-day basis. But on the inside, most of us still retain our traditions and beliefs. Coupled these with ‘Kiasu-ism’ (not wanting to lose out), it’s not surprising rituals are commonly performed before moving into our new homes.

Huat Arh!

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Photo Credit by eonline.com

The Singaporean Chinese, especially, are very particular about rituals when it comes to moving into a new place. For most, rolling a pineapple into the house is a must do. You see, the Hokkien pronunciation for a pineapple is “Ong Lai” and that’s the homonym for “Welcoming Prosperity”.

So when you roll the pineapple, you’re telling the metaphysical forces to bless your new house with an abundance of prosperity, wealth and bundles of joy!

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Photo Credit by javewutaoismplace.blogspot.sg

Now if you’re Taoist, you will want to do the Earth Deity (谢土 for move-in day) ritual. For this, you’ll need:

  • 1 x banana
  • 5 x oranges
  • 1 x huat-kueh (steamed Chinese rice flour cake)
  • 1 set of 地主金 + 5 sticks incense + 1 pair candles
  • A metal bin for burning joss paper (a used one from your old home is fine)

Prepare the items at the door or at the bay window of the living room and stick the candles on the huat-kueh.

The male owner will light the incense and say, “天地开泰,今天良辰吉日,弟子诚心祈求五方五土地主,福主, 及龙神速到此保佑合家平安,流年大吉,贵人得助,消灾降福来……”

Then stick the incense on the huat-kueh. Observe the incense, when it is reduced to 2/3 its length, burn the joss paper at the door.

Hong Chwee (Feng Shui)

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For ardent fans of Feng Shui, they believe the act of moving into a new home is considered a key event in life. It symbolises the start of a new life and a new cycle.

Now I’m no geomancer, so what I did was to ring up someone I know who actually knows what she’s talking about. I spoke with Geno Ong, who runs a QiGong center (www.TIQCenter.com) and is well schooled in metaphysics.

According to Geno, what you want to do first… is to “cleanse the space”. Cleansing the space gets rid of stagnant and negative energies that may have accumulated in certain areas within the house.

Different cultures and beliefs would approach this “energy cleansing” in a different way. But generally these are the steps:

1. Sprinkle all corners of the house with uncooked rice grains.
2. Put pomelo leaves in all the rooms.
3. Sprinkle liberally in the unit with holy water.
4. Then depending on what religion you are, offer prayers and/or incense.

Items for the Ritual

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On the actual day of moving into your new house, the following rituals are practiced by most local Chinese. You will need to prepare the following:

  • 2 pineapples.
  • A rice bin filled with rice at least 3/4 full. If you don’t have a new bin, using an old one is fine.
  • In the rice bin, place an Ang-Pow (Red Packet) of $8.
  • Make a “welcome basket”. In this basket, there should be a packet of salt, a bottle of soy sauce, a bottle of cooking oil, a packet of sugar, some canned food, a piece of huat-kueh (steamed Chinese rice flour cake) and a packet of tang-yuan (glutinous rice balls).
  • A new clay charcoal stove.
  • Some charcoal and a fire starter.

With all these prepared, you’re ready for the moving in ceremony!

Performing the Move-In Ceremony

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Photo Credit by chinese.kpopstarz.com

  1. Get everyone to dress up in nice and clean clothing.
  2. Ask the male owner of the house to light up the stove at the door, and make sure the charcoal is set alight and burning brightly!
  3. Open the main door.
  4. Get the man of the house to carry the rice bin and step over the charcoal stove, reciting auspicious phrases en route into the house. He will be the first to enter.
  5. Once inside the house, he will open all the doors and windows.
  6. The female owner will be next to cross over the charcoal stove, carrying with her the ‘welcome basket’ of groceries. She is also the one who rolls the pineapple in the house, and shout “财源滚滚来” for good measure!
  7. Once inside, she should start to:
    a. Light the kitchen stove.
    b. Boil a kettle of water.
    c. Start cooking the tang-yuan for the family to eat.
  8. Children will be next to enter the house, also stepping over the charcoal stove. When everyone is in, leave the charcoal stove at the door.
  9. The man should then retrieve the pineapples and, depending on your religion, start rituals. Taoists would offer prayers to the Tu Di Gong (土地公).
  10. When all that is done, retrieve the charcoal stove, bring it to the kitchen and let the flames extinguish naturally. Once the flames are out, you can keep the stove in either the kitchen or the storeroom.

And voila, you’ve moved in!

Things You Should Not Do

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Remember, this is an important day and you’ll want to get things going on a good start, so here are a couple of no-no’s.

Do not repair anything, hit any nail, drill any hole, or screw anything (well…*ahem* never mind) on the move-in day. Yes… that also means no Ikea furniture should be fixed up on that day.

And of course, don’t quarrel on that day. If you could, invite some “有福之人” (that’s a Chinese way of describing wealthy or important individuals) to your house. Babies and pet dogs make good guests too!

So, may your new house be blessed with lots of good luck and “Huat Ar!”.

Benjamin is an enthusiast of good advertising, deep thinking, labour issues and chocolate. He is also a private student of law with the University of London.