updated 12 May 2014, 05:41
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Mon, Jan 17, 2011
Special Projects Unit, The Sunday Times
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Teaching the kids traditional values
by Esther Au Yong

They didn't celebrate CNY in a big way until their son Joshua turned two.

Fitness instructor Maverick Saravanamuthu, 42, says: "Even after we got married, CNY felt like any other holiday until Joshua came to two-years-old and was at the age of reasoning. We had to cultivate moral values in him and CNY is a fantastic festival to teach him to respect his elders, the importance of family, and filial piety."

Mr Saravanamuthu, an Indian-Christian, has been married to his Chinese wife Sharon Quek for seven years. They have two sons - Joshua is now 5, and Isaac, 3.

The couple follow CNY traditions such as buying new clothes during CNY to teach their children about respect and gratitude.

"The boys' grandfather insist on paying for the boys' new clothes every year. We take this opportunity to instil in the boys the importance of their relationship with their grandparents who dote on them.

Joshua and Isaac are taught and made to understand that the new clothes were bought by their grandfather and asked to thank him for them," Mr Saravanamuthu says.

"The boys are also drilled for a week before the first day of CNY to offer Mandarin oranges to their grandparents with two hands and to greet them by saying 'Gong Xi Fa Cai'.

"As for hongbao, Sharon does the distribution. The boys are reminded to be thankful and to show humility when receiving the red packets."

Ms Quek, a polytechnic lecturer, adds: "The boys become more sensitive to the differences in culture and learn to accept others' traditions.

"They also look past the colour of the skin and race. Both cultures have their set of good values that can be taught to our children, and both sets of values complement each other."

For Mr Saravanamuthu, "it was neither difficult nor challenging celebrating CNY because his wife made it all feel so seamless in the first two years", he says.

"She helped me a great deal by mentally preparing me for the reunion dinner, the actual day and the day of visitations. The mental preparation went a long way in helping me to feel comfortable with the CNY celebrations.

"And, Sharon's extended family is also welcoming and made me feel accepted," he recalls.

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