- 2009/03/02 Portuguese celebrate water festival of Intrudo

It has not been raining in Malacca for a long spell but residents and visitors to the Portuguese Settlement at Ujong Pasir were soaked to the skin recently when the community celebrated its annual traditional water festival of Intrudo.

The event saw a dousing time at the village with pails of water and even garden hoses used to wet fellow residents, visitors and passers-by, who were caught out on the villages main street.

The Intrudo or "introduction" or "coming before" in the local Cristao language (a 16th century Portuguese dialect still spoken at the settlement) is celebrated on the Sunday preceding Ash Wednesday on February 25.

This traditional event, before the start of Lent under the Roman Catholic season of fasting and penance leading to Easter Sunday on April 12, traced its roots to the coming of the Portuguese in 1511 and its 130-year rule over Malacca.

Image: Young ones, teenagers and adults having a real water splashing time.
Young ones, teenagers and adults having a real water splashing time.

While the children and teenagers were 'armed' with water pistols of all shapes and sizes, the adults relied on water hoses, pails of water with ice cubes as "weapons'. Some even used water-filled balloons to get the drenching done.

Even those who stayed within their respective home compounds watching the "water blessings" were not spared of being doused.

According to Regedor (settlement headman) Peter Gomes visitors and tourists from Singapore sportingly joined in the fun.

He also noted that outsiders and the uninitiated who were 'hit' in the 'cross fire' were given a drink of wine after the unexpected 'water experience'.

"This is done to indicate that the splashing were done for fun and nothing more," he added.

Image: Tourist caught in the 'water cross fire'
Tourist caught in the 'water cross fire'.

Peter said that the ritual was once held by families as a community event but has since grown into a tourists attraction over the last few years.

"We still view it as a traditional event linked to our religion but visitors and tourists are welcome to witness it provided they are willing to get wet," he quipped.

The event was held after the Sunday Eucharistic Celebration at the community hall presided by Rev. Fr. Moses Lui.

The day's programme also included a fancy dress football match at the settlement ground between bachelors and married couples in the evening.

A branyo (similar to ronggeng) session and a live band performance and songs by locals talents took the stage at the Portuguese Square in the late evening with proceedings winding up at midnight.

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