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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.