Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Singapore Chingay 2011

If there's one thing I regret not doing for the past few years, it is watching the beautiful and remarkable Chingay Parade!

It is the most celebrated parade of the year where people from all over the world, people from different culture and tradition all march together to celebrate, Chingay!

Chingay is a hokkien word for the "Art of Masquerade"!

This year was the grandest with 8,000 participants coming all the way from Europe to neighboring Asian countires!

I'm not going to miss you anymore Chingay! I'll definitely be there next year!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Rediscovering Singapore

Rediscovering Singapore during the Chinese New Year 2011 was the most amazing experience I have had in the past few years while working and living here. Perhaps, i'm a late bloomer. I don't know.

After 5 years, I actually went out and immersed myself in the Road Less Traveled Singapore during the Chinese New Year.

This is the time of year when Singaporeans will go on their much needed vacation either in Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Europe or in the States.

A bustling country reduced to silence. Roads are empty and Shops are closed.

And it is for this reason that people leave and have fun elsewhere. And just like the many, i too thinks the same way. But not this year. Not this this year. I want to see what is in store for me when everybody leaves and very few are left to celebrate and welcome the Lunar New Year.

My journey was a re-discovery of what Singapore is all about! A culture that is intact. A culture that has never left the hearts of the Singaporeans despite the growing numbers of foreign workers and foreign immigrants. Western influence though evident in the architecture that has surrounded the Central Business District (CBD) and the fashion amongst the people, has remained a very conservative country.

Singapore is a fusion of 3 major culture. Chinese, Malays and the Indians. Nowadays, it is the melting pot of people across the globe. Americans, Europeans, Australians, Filipinos, Bangladeshi, Indonesians and Malaysians.

Come and journey with me as we go and discover Singapore in 2011!

The entrance and exit to and from the River Hong Bao are adorned by the beautiful Chinese Lanterns in Red and Yellow/Gold. Red is a significant color for the Chinese as it symbolizes Good Fortune and Joy. Yellow on the other hand represents Neutrality and good Luck.

A western woman is adorned by the richness of the Chinese Temple and its culture
Red and yellow/gold are the most favorite color for the Chinese.
Red is defined as Fire and symbolizes good fortune and joy. While Yellow/Gold is defined as Earth and symbolizes neutrality and good luck.
Chinese New Year is the time where families and relatives get together. After the eve, I woke up to a very silent country. There were very few vehicles on the road and the hawker shops were closed. But that didn't stop me from going out. I went back to River Hong Bao that night hoping for another Fireworks display, only to be disappointed while in the taxi -  I learned that there won't be any fireworks anymore until August for the National Day! I wanted to scream at myself for being lazy not to get the details. Anyway, i still went to River Hong Bao.

And I realized the reason why there aren't much people outside the HDB flats, it is because they are all here, including babies...

This is the SWING ride! I hate it. I experienced this ride in Enchanted Kingdom, Philippines sometime back and i swear, I will never ride on this ever again. It's just too much for me to be rotated in a circular motion for 3 minutes.

People awaits the sprinkle of Gold dust and numbers by the God of Fortune. It is believed that when the numbers lands on you, it is given to you by the God of Fortune. And these numbers shall never be revealed to anyone, else your luck is blown away.
Believers celebrate the return of the Chinese God of Fortune on the 4th day of the Chinese New Year. 

While strolling on the River Hong Bao, i was surprised to see a lot of people around the "God of Fortune" with their Umbrellas Inverted, hand bags open, and arms reaching out. Curious on what was going on, i stayed on for a while and see for myself...

All of a sudden, people were all rushing to one side and i had no clue whatsoever on what was going on. I just clicked and clicked until i noticed the gold dust / glitters flying off from the hands of the "God of Fortune" and they were all trying to catch it. And still, i didn't understand the whole idea of catching the glitters....i was thinking that it might be a blessing if you get sprinkled by it. 

So I continued clicking - I was telling myself I have to get this shot for this is real and yet unorthodox. At the same time, i was positioning myself at an area where hopefully i can get it too! Maybe there's some luck with it. There was nothing to lose if i was going to do what they're doing anyway! Albeit, I felt it was very superstitious. Something you'll only experience in developing or religious countries, but definitely not in Singapore! But then again, I was wrong. Totally. It's amazing to realize that even in a very modern country, some traditions are still there and it's intact.

It only lasted for a few seconds, and it was gone. And just like the rest, I was also looking at what I've got. Until i saw bigger glitters in circles and saw a number! Only then did i realize that they were actually not after the gold glitters, but the gold numbers! Overwhelmed by what I got, I guess I got like 8 numbers in total, a family who was standing right behind me was telling me to go and buy TOTO or 4D ticket! It just may be my lucky night! 

To cut the story short, i head on to the lottery and marked my numbers on the paper! I would be a hypocrite if i'd say, i didn't hope it will be true. LOL! After all, life is about Hope and Faith! 

After all the betting - i didn't bet much ok. I spent around $5.00. I was thinking that if you are lucky, you're lucky. And if it was indeed my lucky night, i will strike the 4D no matter how little my bet was! LOL And just like the thousands of people there with the hopes of becoming instant millionaires, I join them in the drink to say, "Better luck next time!" It was after all, not my lucky night. But i had fun! Experiencing it was awesome - though I think winning the 4D could have been a better experience! LOL

A contrasting scenario of adults patiently anticipating for the God of Fortune to blow the lucky numbers while this young girl is blown away by the sheer happiness of simply being there!

Children joins in the belief and collect the "numbers" that the God of Fortune has given.
The numbers when it comes to you is believed to be your lucky number. And people who gets this will queue to the Singapore Pools which is located 5 minutes away to buy their tickets for toto or 4D...hoping this number will strike and make them millionaires!

I believe that I was destined to witness all the wonderful traditions that I have taken for granted in years. This is my first Lion Dance experience. Though I didn't knew much, more so knowing why there is a crab there. 

These are the most common instruments used in the Lion and the Tiger Dance. They have cymbals and drums to keep the Lion dancing!