Recently I had the opportunity to take a sneak peek at the Chingay rehearsal.
Chingay, which means “The art of costume and masquerade” in Hokkien dialect, is a traditional Chinese New Year procession that began as a neighbourhood parade with Chinese elements in 1973. It has since evolved into a massive street and floats parade in Asia. The Chingay parade is famous for its resplendent mobile floats and breathtaking local and international performances, showcasing the rich, vibrant cultures from Singapore and the rest of the world.
The theme of Chingay 2013 is “Fire In Snow” and it aims to celebrate the strength of the Singaporean spirit. The parade will feature cold, harsh snow symbolising struggles and hardships,that are overcome by the indistinguishable fire which symbolise power, passion, dynamism and determination.
Highlights of Chingay Parade 2013:
Grand Opening - Lighting the Fires of Hope
With calming music creating a mood of serenity, performers lighted 1,000 used fire pots, to create the longest “Parade of a Thousand Fire”.
The opening of the parade features a major artistic showpiece entitled ‘Song of Righteousness’ from the Song Dynasty by renowned Singapore and China artistes. The scene of drama builds up with the entrance of 400 tai chi sword performers from 38 Community Centres and Resident Centres, as well as the Soka Association of Singapore, who put on a mesmerising choreographic display around the word “正气” (mandarin for ‘Righteousness’) which is lit up in flames.
Chingay 2013 presents the first-ever combined, largest live Chinese Opera performance, produced by three of the Singapore’s famous Hokkien, Cantonese and Teochew Opera Troupes. 300 members from the Teochew Drama Association, Singapore Bukit Panjang Hokkien Konghuay Opera Troupe and Queenstown CC Cantonese Group will be working together to deliver 3 performances.
Singapore, which is known widely for its ethnic diversity and cosmopolitan outlook as well as its unique fashion and fusing of eastern and western cultures, has inspired Chingay 2013 to incorporate contemporary pop culture to the traditional Chinese opera. This year, 900 People’s Association Youth Movement (PAYM) members will dress in western operatic costume and masks and take to the stage, showcasing western traditions around 3 mobile stages with the Chinese opera group, displaying a true fusion of style and culture.
Chinese New Year Contingent
This year, Chingay will see its largest ever Chinese Cultural Dance with 450 women of all ages dressed in feminine and elegant costumes. Other traditional Chinese performing items include dancing, LED-lit dragon made from recyclable cans and bottles and stilts walkers with pyrotechnics.
Hope Transcends Culture...
Spectators will be treated to a taste of Malay culture with the 370-person strong float entitled ‘Cinta Sejati’, meaning ‘an eternal love’.
They will also get a sample of Indian culture with “Raja Naga Jothi”; a float filled with gigantic fire snakes symbolise the beginning of a new cycle.
With Singapore’s expanding cultural groups, there will also be international performances by Japanese, French, Indonesian, Filipinos and Korean contingents. The Japanese Association Singapore has also come up with a simple float with drums performance and Japanese cultural dances.
Community Spirit In Action
Members from 15 Group Representation Constituencies (GRCs), Community Development Councils (CDCs), People’s Association (PA) Councils and community organisations will join forces to put on a stunning show of community spirit expressed through different interest groups. There will also be a parade showcasing the best of Singapore's cuisine with cooking stalls and 1,000 Zumba Enthusiasts from the Passion Zumba community to putting up a physical performance
Finale – Fire in Snow
Chingay’s “Fire in Snow” theme will showcase the world’s first and largest fire and snow parade. A touching scene unfolds as members of ‘Chair for a Cause’ will carry 2000 fire torches to relight the fire pots. A parade of floats will stand in the midst of this fiery fresco, and end the Chingay parade with two songs, ‘Love Comes Alive’ and ’Fire in Snow’
Chingay 2013 aims to celebrate the resilient spirit of Singaporeans. People from all walks of life will get the chance to contribute to the success of Chingay 2013. The public has already contributed to the Chingay 2013 by donating used pots and woks that are used for the ocean of fire. Chingay 2013 is definitely an insight to our festive traditions and will surely delight the hearts of many Singaporeans.
Chingay 2013 will take place on 22 & 23 February at the Pit Building. For more information, check out the official Chingay website.
By Chua Sii Inn, Diploma in Business Enterprise IT , Year 1