Sayang Semakin Matang ( Sayang Matang for short ) explores the alternative history in which every 12-year-old Singaporean undergoes a coming-of-age ceremony. Five fictional artifacts each tell the story of the rite behind it.
The age of adolescence is very vulnerable as it shapes the way one sees one's identity later on as an adult. The ceremony is meant to celebrate adolescents and allow them to make a proper transition from childhood to adulthood.
Set in the 1970s, Sayang Matang reflects a time when Singapore was striving for its own independence with the support of neighboring communities. Just as Singapore had a day to declare its independence, the adolescents also have a day to declare theirs.
On the adolescent's 12th birthday, the family buys a bakul cinta (meaning basket of love), which contains all the utensils needed for the ceremony. The bakul cinta consists of 2 parts - the upper and the lower. The upper level contains 4 smaller rattan baskets where the individual tools for the various rites are kept. This upper level is later reused to hold the items for the redemption rite. The lower level contains a collapsible lantern for the preparation rite.
The household hangs a coming-of-age lantern as an announcement to the community that their child is growing into adulthood. The white colour of the lantern symbolises the passing of childhood and the transition into a new stage of life.
The mother and the child complete a rangoli together. The meaning of rangoli is to invite happiness and wealth into the family. By creating the rangoli together, it becomes a rite that signifies the child taking on the mantle to look after the family.
At a betrothal ceremony, gifts and goodies are presented to the bride's family along with the dowry to bring the bride into the groom's family. In this, the child presents a gift to their parents as a sign of redemption for their own independence and also as a thank you for their support through the years of growing up.
The parents bless the child by giving them an angbao, to signify support. In contrast to the traditionally used red or green angbao, blue is used here because it corresponds to a very different tradition and is meant to represent growth. The words LOVE, HAPPINESS, PROSPERITY and PROGRESS are from the national pledge with the added word "LOVE". It is meant to highlight the importance of love and grace amidst the pursuit of success.
The family, along with the newly installed young adult throws a big feast to celebrate the occasion and invites family, friends, and neighbours in the community. The saucer is used to hold sour, sweet, bitter, and spicy sauces to represent the ups and downs the family will go through together with the young adult.