The Chingay Parade is an annual street parade held in Singapore. The largely Chinese parade became a multi-cultural one from 1977 when Malay and Indian groups started joining in the performances, which was to mark a major precedent in the overall flavour of the parade into one which has become largely multi-cultural in character.
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Steeped in tradition
Having served as a grassroots leader for 2 years, I had the privilege of being able to see for myself first-hand the organisation of the parade. The parade itself comprises of performances of cultural significance, giving the example of frequently worshipped deities and their helpers. Moreover, being multi-cultural, all the significant symbols and traditions of the various races and religion goes on display.
Loads of work go into preparing for a chingay parade. Give for example, the rehearsals leading up to the actual event. On wednesday nights, a group of youngsters, adults and senior citizens performing in the Muslim contigent were hard at work practicing in the CC. Moreover, there is a rush by the organising commitee to ensure that logistical needs, such as costumes are not neglected.
There is much bonding between participants, and this is evident through the friendships formed across race, religion and age group!
One setback however, is that unlike a chingay parade in Malaysia, no firecrackers are allowed for the Singaporean one. This puts a damper on things as the explosions and crackling of the firecrackers would most have lent a more gaudy atmosphere to the event.
I love the way the fireworks light up the sky.
To all those who have yet to see fireworks up close, I'm telling you that Chingay is the one place where you can experience fireworks just above your heads - it is almost as if the beautiful sparks are just ahead, waiting for you to grab hold of them. I stood in the water, after the ending performance with my iPhone in my hand. I was knee deep in water from the Chingay floor and I was holding my iPhone that was wrapped in a zip-lock bag hoping to capture a decent shot of the beauty in front of me. My memory of my encounter with my fireworks are as fresh as yesterday's dinner.
In one of the most exciting, colourful, and beautiful display occasions of Singapore, it is a must-go event. I had been a performer for the Chingay Parade 2 years ago and the memory remains an artistic inspiration for me. There is so much to watch, see, experience, and enjoy at this parade - there is more to the lights and the sounds, there is more than the costumes and the movements - behind that all the glamorous front is countless of hours of hard work and dedication. That is something to be respected and something worth watching.
I can never explain in words how Chingay changed me - but if I had the chance, I would want to just go for Chingay again and experience the atmosphere one more time. Maybe this time, not as a performer but as part of the audience. There isn't a limit as to how one can experience such artistic beauty, and that in itself is a beautiful thing.
Singapore in a performance
I have always enjoyed Chingay, especially so when I was younger. I remember being enthralled by the exceedingly colourful floats that seemed to literally float past the screen and the performances and costumes would take me to new places with just my imagination.
Until now, Chingay is still a yearly performance that I look forward to. But as I grow up, I learn to enjoy and appreciate the beautiful blend of culture evident in the performances that is so Signature of Singapore. The performances seem to me to be a statement of pride of our culture and of our nation, as though we are shouting out to the world "Look! Look how beautiful this melting pot is!"
I could not recall when they started selling tickets for Chingay Parade. I remembered when I was a young boy, I had the experience of going very early to sit by the road side to wait for the parade to pass by my place. During that time, the parade was free but the performance was nowhere near the standards of today.
I was just thinking whether such traditional event should be commercialized. I always had the impressions that the performers in the parade were volunteers just like those for National Day. I do understand the costs of organizing such an event would be very high but couldn't the organizer looked for sponsors just like National Day. If such commercialization continues, may be some years later, we would be paying for tickets for National Day parade.
Chingay has a wide array of performance every year!
Boasting a huge amount of performers, Chingay is certainly a yearly event that couldn't be easily wavered. I recalled that time when I first laid my eyes on it's gigantic floats. It was breathtaking! I gasped in astonishment, impressed upon the sight that greeted me. Furthermore, all of it are locally made products. I can't resist the urge to unleash a thunderous wave of applause for these amazing heap of plastic and metals.
My cousin was a regular performer for Chingay. She participated for approximately four or five years. They had so many rehearsals that meeting her became equivalent to setting up a session that involved the Prime Minister who owned a severely packed schedule. However, all these rehearsals proved to be fruitful. I witnessed the performance flowing at ease, void of confusion and complications!
I also recalled rushing to my television set to witness this epic yearly event. My eyes were fixated by the stream of performers stringing into the runway like stage. They dance about with custom-made uniforms. They swung their drumsticks in the air and brought them down on the tarpaulin drums in unison. All these are done whilst striding forward, allowing a constant flow for the Chingay stream.
Needs more recognition
Having a friend who regularly participates in these parades, I have become a frequent watcher of the Chingay Parade. Initially, it seemed a little dubious and weird to me. I had no idea what it was about, but after talking to my friend and reading up about it, it all started to make sense.
I like how the parade is multi-cultural, as it helps to show the effort Singapore puts into making this island a happy multi-racial and multi-religious place. I think acts such as these should be witnessed by more people, as I feel that the Chingay Parade is highly underrated among Singaporeans, and I wouldn't be surprised if some doesn't even know such a thing exists.
Hopefully, in the near future, more Singaporeans would take time off from their busy schedules to participate in or just to watch multi-cultural events such as this.
Doesn't translate well on television
I’ve never attended a Chingay parade in person, but I’ve many times watched it on television. Or should I say, attempted to watch it on television. I don’t think I’ve ever sat through a Chingay parade broadcasted on television on my own volition except that one occasion where I preferred watching the parade over answering the millionth question from my relatives about academics.
That said, I have numerous friends and relatives who have attended the Chingay Parade or were performing. The feedback on the parade was overwhelmingly positive, save for the practice hours for the performers, and they said it was a wonderful experience. As a casual observer who has no personal loyalty to the Chingay Parade, I confess that I fail to see the allure of such a parade.
Once in a lifetime
I joined Chingay Parade in 2010 and I really enjoyed myself. Above all the practices (which weren't very tiring), and above all the new friends I made, it was great to experience the making of such a huge event.
We had rehearsals with the beautiful floats, we toured the neighbourhoods and I danced on top of the float. We were gorgeous lotus fairies and I loved all the costumes and makeup. Before the show, we met so many people from all over the world, so many different costumes and concepts.
My little eyes were opened and I was really impressed with the running of such a large scale event. Overall, I think Chingay Parade is a huge success where everyone enjoys himself.
However, to me, once is quite enough. I'll probably only join it again in the future, next time.
Needs to be revitalized!
Chingay Parade used to be good. The theme changes constantly and everything at the parade were just so different and joyous and colourful! One year there were men from some remote tribes stomping through, the next there were dances and so on. The performances brought in from all over the world would always be something to look forward to.
However, over the years it seems to have toned down and became commercialised. Now I see school students and local Singaporeans performing generic dances to generic hits. Whatever happened to all those varieties of cultural performances that gave previous events an international feel?
Gets better every year.
I was at the Chingay Parade this year, which was held at the F1 Pit Building. This year's parade was different, as the entire parade was held on an artificial river! throughout the entire time, all the floats and performers were ankle-deep in water and it was choreographed beautifully!
I would go as far as to say that it's way better than the NDP itself! The twirling dragons, colourful floats and especially the blends between all the races and religions in Singapore were showcased beautifully.
I'm waiting in anticipation of next year's Chingay, wondering how they can improve after a spectacle like this. But I know they will, it's been proven.