The festive periods of Singapore are the best time to visit the place what with the electrifying festive atmosphere combined with the visual feast of color, pomp and celebrity adds quite a dash to your vacations.
Hungry Ghost Festival: Also known as the “Getai Fever”, this festival is celebrated by the Chinese in Singapore to pay respect to the dead. In fact, according to them, during this month the gates of hell are opened and the dead are free to roam the earth at their own will. On this day, believers burn incense and present prayer offerings along with fruits such as Mandarin Oranges or roasted suckling pig made especially for the occasion. You can also go and catch some entertaining and boisterous live wayang and getai performances performed for entertaining the spirits. Ranging from crazy bawdy stand up comedy to Chinese song and dance numbers, to sensuous acrobatic pole dancing, you are welcome to watch the show. So visit Singapore during this festival and check out these adventurous and entertaining ways through which the Chinese entertain their spirits.
Thaipusam: A highly symbolic Hindu festival, Thaipusam is a highly revered annual procession made by the Tamil Hindu community of Singapore. Celebrated in the honor of Lord Murugan, the festival is held during the full moon day of the 10th Tamil month, called Thai, that falls around mid January each year. Bringing a colorful visual spectacle for all to witness, the procession is full of dazzling Indian drum rhythms and Hindu chants that brings the traffic of the city to a standstill. The devotees participating in the procession start preparing for the same about a month earlier when they have to live a life of abstinence and vegetarianism. Accompanied by friends and family, this sacred ritual of Thaipusam in Singapore is a true act of faith.
Dragon Boat Festival: This 2000 year old festival celebrated is held on the fifth day of the fifth month of the lunar calendar to commemorate the death of Qu Yuan, a famous Chinese poet who drowned himself to protest against political corruption. According to a legend, the fishing boats raced to rescue him but to no avail. So, in order to distract the fishes from feasting on his body, people threw bah chang, a type of glutinous rice and meat dumplings wrapped within bamboo leaves. Today, bring your whole family to Bedok Reservoir to catch the top dragon boating crews from all over the world competing for the top honors at the annual Singapore Dragon Boat Racing Competition. Cheer for these beautifully decorated boats that splash around on water bringing lots of thrill, action and spills that makes for an ideal day of wholesome family fun and entertainment.
Hari Raya Haji: Also known as the “Festival of Sacrifice”, Hari Raya Haji is a three day festival celebrated by Muslims all over the world with a lot of zeal and enthusiasm. Celebrated to mark the end of the annual holy Mecca pilgrimage of Hajj, the festival commemorates Prophet Mohammad’s willingness to sacrifice his son in the name of god. On this day, volunteers gather together in mosques to offer prayers and reflect on sermons that are read aloud. After these customary prayers, sacrifices are made of goat, sheep and cows. The meat is then packed and distributed among the less fortunate Muslim families. After all these customary practices, devotees then head out to meet and greet their friends and family for lunch and merrymaking.
Mid Autumn Festival: Also known as the ‘Mooncake Festival’, the mid- autumn festival is celebrated in annually in August or September. Commemorating the selfless act of Chang’e, the wife of a merciless ruler, the festival is also fondly known as the Lantern Festival or the August Moon Festival due to festivities surrounding the same. Capture the timeless spirit of the festival by visiting Chinatown which is the hub of Chinese diaspora. There are giant lantern displays as well as various mini stalls selling beautiful paper lanterns in all shapes and sizes. Or the foodies, there are the delicious mooncakes available in various flavors ranging from traditional ones like lotus and egg yolk to exotic ones like chocolate, ice cream and coffee. Do not miss the performances by the art troupes that depict the story behind the festival in the form of dances, opera or puppetry.
Vesak Day: Commemorating the birth, enlightenment and death of Lord Buddha, Vesak Day is the most significant day in the Buddhist calendar. All over the world, Buddhists spend this day with immense joy, peace and reflection. In Singapore, this day falls in the month of May, on the 15th day of the fourth month of Chinese Lunar Calendar. Buddhists around the world celebrate the day by congregating together in their temples before the hoisting of Buddhist flag and hymn singing afterwards. Simple offerings are made of candles, flowers and joss sticks to the spiritual leader Buddha. It is said the good deeds performed on this day are multiplied many times over. These include mass blood donations at hospitals, releasing caged birds and animals, vegetarianism, and various other deeds. The best place to mark and observe this day in Singapore is by visiting the majestic Lian Shan Shuang Lin Temple which is Asia’s second largest and Singapore’s oldest Buddhist Temple.
Chinese New Year: Considered to be one of the most anticipated occasions of the year, Chinese New Year is celebrated by Singaporeans from all walks of life with great zeal and enthusiasm. People wear new clothes and clean their houses to make way for good luck and happiness. They also make new year visits to friends and family. In addition to all these customary rituals, There are stunning street light ups, night markets, lion dancers, fire eaters and female dance troupes that provide you with an unforgettable street entertainment. However, the centerpiece of all the festivities is the Chingay Parade. It is a great carnival like parade with dazzling floats, magicians, fire eaters, sizzling dance acts and other thrilling spectacles. Come, immerse yourself in the Chinese festivities and understand the Chinese culture better.
National Day: Take a dip into the patriotic zeal of Singaporeans on its National Day when the nation is awash in a sea of white and red colors with speakers blaring popular nationalist songs. However, the spectacle that remains indelible from your mind is the National Parade, if you are lucky enough to get the tickets. More than a parade, it is an unforgettable retelling of Singapore’s history through stunts and cinematic performances. You can also take part in the famous Kallang Roar, a wave like movement among the fans that enlightens up any occasion. However, if you want to celebrate far from the crowds, take a romantic night out on the Marina Bridge where you can watch the fireworks from a distance while drinking champagne with your partner.