You’re expecting me to talk about food, aren’t you? Yes, that is one of the many reasons (let me count the ways…), but I also love Singapore because I’m forever stumbling upon interesting events/sights. Thanks in part to Singapore’s multicultural population, it seems like there’s always a festival of some sort going on.
This past weekend I was heading from a durian tasting (more about that tomorrow!) to my friend Clayton’s birthday, when I walked by a Lion Dance competition. Basically, two people put on a lion costume (one person’s legs are the lion’s front legs and the other person’s legs are the lion’s back legs) and jump around on narrow poles. The poles vary in height, but the shortest ones appear to be at least six feet tall. There are also a lot of smaller movements involving the lion’s head, eyes, and ears. And these movements seem to be coordinated to live percussion beats from the team members onstage. I have no idea how it’s judged (I imagine falling off is bad), as I only watched one competitor.
I took some video; the quality is not amazing, but at least I figured out that instead of trying to see between the four rows of people in front of me, I could climb a nearby staircase for a better view. I only uploaded about 45 seconds, but the entire performance lasted about ten minutes. (They just kept going…and going…and going. Energizer should get a new mascot.)
Also last week, I stumbled upon the celebration of Pongal, the Hindu Harvest Festival, in Little India. Much like Hari Raya Haji, I think most of the excitement happens in temples and in homes, although I was fortunate enough to find a tent with some cows and goats. And not just any cows and goats – cows and goats wearing pretty flower garlands.
Going further back in time, I attended a dragon boat festival shortly after I arrived in Singapore. I’ll be writing more about dragon boating later, as I may be joining a team and the season starts this Saturday. (I’ve been planning on joining since before I moved here, but am now wondering if I actually have the time and dedication to stick with it.) Regardless, here’s a picture. I’m basically including this because of the building in the background.
I’ve been wondering what this building is since the day I arrived, when I noticed its similarity to a UFO. The mystery was finally solved by my friend Alek – it’s the Supreme Court building. This immediately made me wonder if the members of the Supreme Court here wear long robes, preferably with hoods. (To which Alek replied that it’s actually the Supreme Court of Jupiter, not Singapore.) Anyway, this building by itself is another reason I love Singapore. And I haven’t even mentioned the building that looks like a durian…
Finally, this weekend I’m going to watch the procession associated with Thaipusam, which celebrates the birthday of the Hindu deity Subramaniam. To show their faith, some devotees pierce their cheeks, tongue, face or other body parts with long, sharp objects. They also wear a kavadi, a cage-like structure decorated with peacock feathers and pictures of Hindu deities that can weigh up to thirty pounds. After the participants have been pierced and loaded down, they walk about 4km from one temple to another. This should hopefully produce some interesting pictures….stay tuned!