spunktitud3

Musings on Travel, Fashion & Fun

Experiencing Fire in Snow at Chingay 2013

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Chingay 2013

Chingay 2013 – Fire in Snow

Having watched Chingay (妆艺大游行 ) countless times on television, I was pretty curious about seeing the street parade in person. Being there and having the opportunity  to walk alongside the performers during the grand rehearsal was entirely a new and exhilarating experience.

Chingay was a common sight in colonial times in the form of large religious processions held by the different Chinese dialect groups to honour their deities (the earliest recorded was in 1840 to welcome the arrival of the deity Ma Zhu Po the protector of seafarers from China). The word ‘Chingay’ came from the phonetic form of the Hokkien character to describe “the art of costume and masquerade”.

Singapore’s first ‘official’ Chingay was held on 4 February 1973 with 2,000 participants from the People’s Association and the Singapore National Pugilistic Federation to celebrate the Chinese New Year. The procession made its way from Victoria School in Jalan Besar to Outram Park, led by a large statue of a bull to signify the Year of the Ox. Chingay has since grown into Asia’s grandest street parade featuring spectacular acts, stunning costumes and decorated mobile floats. This year saw 10,000 performers from different races, ages, backgrounds and 120 different organisations performing to the theme of “Fire in Snow” (雪中火) for a ‘live’ audience of 160,000 and 1.5 million television viewers.

Chingay 2013

Bright sparks of Fire in Snow
Chingay’s 2013 theme celebrates the resilience of Singaporeans in the face of life’s challenges with ‘Fire’ as a symbol of bravery and determination amidst the many challenges represented by ‘Snow’. 1,000 resilient Singaporeans including the physically challenge, sick, care-givers, youths, senior citizens and new citizens participated in the street parade. Seen here are Mr Nah Juay Hng, Chairman of the Chingay Parade Exco (extreme left) with Taiwanese celebrities Peng Qia Qia (澎恰恰), Hong Rong Hong (洪荣宏), Yang Lie (杨烈) and Billy Wang (东方比利) and 20 resilient Singaporeans.

chingay 2013

The parade opened with a majestic ‘Song of Righteousness’ (正气歌) with 3,000 performers lighting up firepots, transforming the 360-metre parade route at F1 Pit Building into a breathtaking ocean of fire. It was pretty amazing to see the action happening at ground level and running together with the performers to take photos. Awwwwesome!

Chingay 2013

450 tai chi sword performers from 38 Community Centres and Resident Centres as well as the Singapore Soka Association put on a dramatic choreographic display around the flickering words “正气”, accompanied by a live performance of the “Song of Righteousness” while master calligrapher Mr Tan Khim Ser demonstrated his calligraphy strokes in tandem with the music. There was also a mass display of 10,000 calligraphy pieces contributed by 5,000 students and the public.

chingay 2013

Herione with a mean glint. I worry for the hubby if he ever dares to criticize her cooking.

Chingay 2013

This reminded me of He-Man when he raises up his sword to transform into a superhero – “By the power of Grayskull…I have the power!”

chingay 2013

Strike a pose

Chingay 2013

The 3 sprightly Chingay hosts Gurmit Singh, Lin You Yi, and Guo Liang

Chingay 2013

450 young female dancers from Singapore and China putting up the biggest Chinese cultural dance in Chingay history. It was great to see them enjoying themselves.

Chingay 2013

I am amazed how the smile never left their faces. Maybe that’s why they are feel-good fairies.

Chingay 2013

I tried to masquerade as one of the fairies…more mist please!

Chingay 2013

A smile so sweet, even the butterflies came

Chingay 2013

Schoolchildren reciting a poem

Chingay 2013

I got a backache looking at this pose. It’s hard being a fairy.

Chingay 2013

Traditional Chinese opera meets contemporary pop as 900 members of the People’s Association Youth Movement dance in operatic costumes and masks that express Western traditions to hip hop music.

Chingay 2013

Inspired by the Chinese dramatic art of ‘face-changing 变脸‘, the kids transition from Western Opera to Oriental Opera costumes in a split second. I should get the contact of the costume designer…this would come in so handy when I have multiple events in one night, heh.

Chingay 2013

Eco-dragon
This 450-metre long LED dragon is special is more than one way – it is made up of recycled water bottles.

Chingay 2013

Did you know the origins of Chingay in Singapore?
The procession came about in response to the commencement of the Dangerous Fireworks Act on 1 August 1972 which prohibited the possession and discharging of firecrackers due to deaths and injuries from fatal explosions. It was hoped that the gaiety of the Chingay would lessen the dampened festive spirit in the absence firecrackers. Seeing and hearing the firecrackers upclose was definitely a first for me, and caught me totally by surprised that I jumped out of my skin!

Chingay 2013

International troupes from Japan, France, Indonesia, Philippines and Korea were also invited to perform at Chingay. My favourite was this pyrotechnics-spewing centipede dance troupe from Guangzhou. We have seen many lion and dragon dances, but this is one of the rare occasions when I saw a centipede dance.

Chingay 2013

The men behind the Centipede Dance
It was no easy feat making this gigantic arthropod come alive, requiring much coordination and teamwork.

Chingay 2013

Juggling the Giant Flag 耍大旗, a Chinese tradition, was a common sight in the early Chingay processions. In the absence of twinkling LEDs and fiery pyrotechnics, this was considered pretty amazing stuff.

Chingay 2013

Flying Phoenixes as part of the ethnic contingent

Chingay 2013

Malay dance

Chingay 2013

Hmmmm…lantern-bearing fairies?

Chingay 2013

Golden stilt-walkers

Chingay 2013

He looked so macho

Chingay 2013

Pyrotechnics came into play

Chingay 2013

300 members from the Teochew Drama Association (潮剧联谊社), Singapore Bukit Panjang Hokkien Konghuay Opera Troupe (新加坡武吉班让福建公会芗剧团) and Queenstown CC Cantonese Group (女皇镇粤剧团) came together to present the nation’s largest ‘live’ Chinese opera show.

Chingay 2013

Opera performers on the float

Chingay 2013

This furry fire performer got me drooling…

Chingay 2013

Think I drooled so much, it began to rain…

Chingay 2013

Even Yang’s Lady Generals had to hold umbrellas to fend off the harsh rain

Chingay 2013

The Japanese contingent had a ‘waterful’ performance. Nice to see the big smiles still on their faces. Kudos to the Japanese.

Chingay 2013

Japanese float looking good enough to eat

Chingay 2013

Raja Naga Jothi
Indian float filled with gigantic fire snakes symbolise the beginning of a new cycle

Chingay 2013

‘Cinta Sejati’ or ‘An eternal love’
The Malay community was represented by a float styled like a grand castle complete with white horses worthy of Prince Charming. Too bad it didn’t come with a retractable shelter like a convertible.

Chingay 2013

The rain continued to pelt down mercilessly, but it wasn’t enough to dampen the performers’ spirits

Chingay 2013

Merry making in the rain
The rain got so heavy at this point, the rehearsal was called off. Awww shucks, I was just having so much fun. And true to Murphy’s law, the rain stopped there and then. Duh.

Chingay 2013

I looked like a drenched chicken, but I couldn’t pass up the photo opportunity with Mr Yam Ah Mee! He happened to walk past in his raincoat, and all of us (especially the aunties) screamed and went up to take photos. He was super-accommodating and personable, consider me now a fan! And went away pretty happy. :)

It was a very memorable night of many firsts – first time at Chingay, first time photographing a street parade, first time experiencing firecrackers, first time seeing a centipede dance, and first time seeing Mr Yam Ah Mee in person. But it will definitely not be the last Chingay for me :)

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Author: spunktitud3

A little post by a fun-loving spunky gal in love with the quirky, the artsy and anything which inspires new creations. Read about her adventures on: spunktitud3.wordpress.com

2 thoughts on “Experiencing Fire in Snow at Chingay 2013

  1. Looks like you had an amazing time – great photos!

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