Keeping the water splashing festival of ‘Intrudo’ alive

Children, youths and adults residing at the Portuguese Settlement enthusiastically observed the water splashing and drenching festival of Intrudo with much gusto on March 2, a tradition kept by the community on the Sunday preceding Ash Wednesday.

Mar 14, 2014

By Percy D’Cruz
Children, youths and adults residing at the Portuguese Settlement enthusiastically observed the water splashing and drenching festival of Intrudo with much gusto on March 2, a tradition kept by the community on the Sunday preceding Ash Wednesday.

Intrudo means ‘introduction’ or ‘coming before’ in Cristao, an old Portuguese dialect which is still fluently spoken mainly by the settlement community elders. The water festival has been kept alive since the establishment of the settlement in 1930. In recent years it has been listed as a state tourism event.

Despite a drought prevailing in the state since last December, the Portuguese-Eurasian residents had a grand water splashing and drenching time. Visitors and the uninitiated calling at the settlement during the three-hour festival starting at 9.00am following the Sunday Eucharistic Celebration at the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, were invariably caught in the ‘watery crossfire.’ Then they were given a glass of wine by residents for taking the community’s traditional proceedings in the true spirit of the occasion.

According to settlement elder Manuel Sta Maria, besides Malacca, the water festival is also observed in places like Macau, Goa, Papua New Guinea and Flores where a sizeable Portuguese-Eurasian community members reside.

He also remarked that the Portugal-originated festival marks the beginning of one’s self-mortification, prayer, fasting, penance and abstinence of merriment and personal gratification during the Lent season, leading up to Holy Week and Easter Sunday.

“The significance of splashing and drenching one another is to portray the importance of water to the community. As we were a seafaring people, the sea or water played an important role in our lives. Hence, the tradition reminds us of the time when fishing and its related industries like selling fish, manufacture of fish-based food products and delicacies and the making of nets and boats were the prime livelihood of our forefathers,” he noted.

Later in the afternoon, another practice connected with the water festival got underway. Senior women set up temporary stalls to sell home-made tea time delicacies like pang susees (mini meat and potato filled buns) and putugal’(tapioca muffins). The late evening witnessed a fancy dress football match played at the settlement field while the night’s programme saw the staging of the traditional Branyo Rudia (a ronggeng style song and dance routine) plus musical entertainment performed by the settlement’s
bands, musicians and vocalists.

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