One of the Chinese New Year celebrations in Singapore is the Chingay Parade. It occurs two nights in a row, and involves many different groups of people. Apparently it is very large; all the media networks were there including CNN and many other local media groups.
One thing I thought was pretty funny was the fact that the parade started with the loud roar typical of Harley Davidson bikers because a group of about 20 bikers followed by women in large bunny hats (it is the year of the rabbit) were the first to come out. This was flowed shortly after by Darth Vader and his Storm Troopers. See? Everyone loves motorcycles and Star Wars; it’s universal.
It is the year of the Rabbit, so you could see various balloons and dolls to that effect. There was also a large red dragon that looked like a dragon used in a traditional dragon dance. This was later joined by lion dancers. These are particularly interesting, as their movements really do look like a dog or some sort of animal as it shakes it head at you. I have seen a couple of lion dances now, and they interact with the audience very well. They throw oranges (symbolic of wealth and good fortune) at the crowd, or hand them to the crowd directly out of their mouths. Then they come up to you and nudge you expecting to be petted. As a side note, oranges are the main gift during this time. I have been given multiple oranges at various events, and even by my taxi driver in Malaysia in order to celebrate the New Year.
The parade had a theme of “we are one”, and many of the floats were manned by people from various Community Development Centers (CDC’s) around Singapore. There was even one float made by the local Mexican group. The floats ranged from large and elaborate to a group of young kids doing a kind of dance. There was a group that did traditional Indian belly dancing, and the participants varied in age (16 to 61 as a rough guess).
You can clearly see the emphasis being placed on youth in Singapore. I imagine most of the population is fairly young, and the largest group in the parade was the Youth’s Association. I believe the parade had 8,000 participants, and 2,000 of them were in this group. They were wearing pinks shirts, and there was pink for as far as the eye could see in both directions as they went past. This was the last group to go by and was followed by a statement from the prime minister and a large firework show.
In my Government and Politics of Singapore class we just talked about how the early Singapore government was faced with building a sense of national pride and uniting the varying groups to be found on the island. There is much diversity to be found here; there is a Chinatown, Little India (more on that later), a large Malay population, and then other folks from all over the world who have come to Singapore for business interactions. Judging from the various CDC’s and vastly different cultures represented in the parade, I guess they must of alleviated this issue. Here are some more pics from the event: