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Chingay Parade 2016

Ever attended a Masquerade Carnival ? Chingay Parade is held every year in Singapore during the Lunar New Year season which is celebrated over 15 days.  The first Chingay parade in Singapore was held in 1973 as a result of ban on fire crackers, a year earlier due to fire hazards.  People felt that banning fire crackers dampened the mood of the new year celebrations.  Bursting fire crackers is an important aspect of celebration as it symbolizes driving away evil spirits.  In 1973 (the year of Ox), the then Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, who was also the chairman of the People’s Association, addressed this issue and organised a street parade featuring signature floats, acrobatic shows, stilt walkers, lion and dragon dances and many more.  As the year passed, the parade grew more and more magnanimous and grand.  Chingay is celebrated for two days in Singapore.  This year, they celebrated Chingay on 19th and 20th of February.  The event was held at F1 Pit Building where the formula 1 race takes place every year.  I attended the event on 20th of this month.  The event was jam packed with the crowd.  All seats were booked. Pre-Parade started at 7 pm. The event started at 8 pm. I quickly  rushed to the Bedok Mall to collect my Sistic tickets at the information center.  The agents sitting at the counter took ages to print it.  I was in queue waiting for the tickets, 20 people ahead of me.  My turn came after 1 hour missing the pre-parade show.  I grabbed my tickets and headed towards the Pit Building.  We received goody bag from the volunteers which had leaflets, pom poms, candies, raincoats and torches.  The leaflets describes on the acts which were going to be performed.  The previous day Chingay parade was soaked in rain.  The atmosphere was electrifying. As the event was about to start the crowd was asked to take their pom poms and torches and wave to cheer the performers.

Chingay Crowd

Chingay Event Starts

Chingay word is equivalent to mandarin “zhuang yi” which means art of costume and masquerade.  The entire event of two hours are divided into segments.  Every year chingay has a theme.  This year the theme was “Lights of Legacy”.  All the performances, costumes and floats will be in adherence to this theme.  The event started with the first float decorated as Brighter Singapore joined by the President of Singapore Tony Tan and his wife. They waved their hands and addressed the crowd. A day earlier, Chingay was inaugurated by the prime minister of Singapore.

Brighter Singapore Float

Tony Tan-President of Singapore

The float was accompanied by stilt walkers generating fiery sparks during their parade. Few of them looked like aliens reminding me of district 9 invading the city !

Chingay Act 1

The event was distributed into five segments with multiple acts in each.  Each of the segment has a theme.

Segment 1: Voyage SG 100 

The segment opens to the crowd with 800 youths dressed in lighted costumes with oars in their hands.  The float depicted of Singapore’s step to 100 years.  It also symbolized  today’s youths , tomorrow’s future guided by wisdom of founding fathers’.

SG100 Act 1-1

SG100 Act 1

Segment 2: Because We Are Different, We are One

The first act was to welcome the New Year by auspicious LED Dragons and Straw Fire Dragons.  A 66 metre flying dragon swayed across the crowds.  It was a visual treat to watch !

LED Dragons Act_

Dragons Act 1-2

Dance of Dragons

Dragons Act 1-1

The next act was performed by 250 big sisters.

 Big Sisters Act 1-1

Big Sisters Act 1

This was followed by Malay dance representing the mighty bridge of heritage “Perkasa Titian Warisan”.

Indonesian Act

The last act truly depicted the theme of the segment “Because we are different, we are one”.  The float was decorated symbolizing statues of different race and culture.  The float was followed by dancers of all the communities living in Singapore. True to the multicultural ethos, all of Singapore’s religions and races were represented in the parade.

Different But One Act 1-1

Each of the floats depicted different communities and their cultural dances.  I captured few snaps of Indian Community dancing on a famous Bollywood song.

Bollywood Float Act 1-1

Bollywood Float Act 1-2

Monkey King was given a special preference and he had his own float to flaunt with as its the year of monkey!

Monkey King

Segment 3: Friendship All Over The World

Each of the acts in this segment represented dances and costumes from the neighbouring lands and across the sea depicting friendly ties with Singapore.  It was a great medley of Japanese, South Korean, Russian and Indonesian dances.

Russian Act 1

Korean Act 1-1

Korean Act_Ship Float Act 1-2Russian Act 2Chingay

This was followed by Circus Acts and LED bicycles.

LED Cycles

Performers Act 2

Performers Act 1

Segment 4: A United and Vibrant Community

This segment had acts featuring different dance styles waltz, dances by Eurasian community, flamencos, Indian classical dance, belly dance. There were also martial arts segments like Taiko, Taichi, Aikido, Hip Hop, Taekwondo, Pole dancing, Ballet, Zumba and so on.  The most hilarious one was Pole dancing as the dancers were really struggling to make it to the top !

Pole dancers

Classical Indian Dance

Dance & Martial Arts 2Dance & Martial Arts 1

The best part was no matter what the age group, everyone seemed to be willingly participating and enjoying themselves.

This was followed by Senior Citizens Academy Float

Senior Academy

Segment 5: Lights of Legacy, Brighter Singapore

The last and finale act of Chingay to summarize the event.  The laser lights were made dim to have a pitch dark effect on the ground.  The float was lit with neon lights.  Performers with led lights costume held lanterns and danced to the tune of brighter Singapore song.   The tall dragon floated on top of the audience and joined the crowd to watch the spectacular sight of the finale night.

Final Act 2

Final Act 1

Final Act 3

I saved my favorite float to the last.  It symbolizes the journey of dreams of Singapore.  A beautiful ship filled with unlimited dreams was ready for its voyage to explore its destiny in the coming years.

Ship Float Act 1-1

Copyright ©2016, Lakshmi Nair . This article may not be reproduced in its entirety without permission. A link to this URL, instead, would be appreciated.

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