Kamis, 16 Oktober 2008

Can a nation’s history be both fact and fiction?

Singapore was first mentioned in 1365 in the Javanese ‘Nagarakretagama’ as ‘Temasek’ or Sea Town. A third-century Chinese account described Singapore as “Pu-luo-chung’ or island at the tip of a peninsula. But, it was from the 14th century, following a Sumatran prince mistaking a tiger for a lion, that the Sankrit term ‘Singapura’ or Lion city gained currency. It was Sir Stamford Raffles, a 19th century British civil servant, who founded Singapore in 1819. An official of the East India Company; Raffles combed the Straits of Malacca for a small trading station to counter the Dutch influence in the area. The tiny fishing village of Singapore was perfect because it was at the crossroads of the East and West.
Raffles did not just discover Singapore. He literally laid the city’s foundations. After establishing a trading post, he planned to build a business quarter on one side of the Singapore River. But, because it was low-lying, he ordered a small hill to be excavated to fill up the area. Today, that land is the core of the city and the heart of Shenton Way, Singapore’s answer to Wall Street.
Can a melting pot have its own distinct flavor?
Singapore retains its special multiracial quality acquired from its early days when Arabs Chinese, Europeans, Indians, and Straits-born Chinese (or Peranakan) came to live side by side with the indigenous Malays. Today, the population approaching the four million mark has forged a single national identity, so much so that you are likely to hear someone regard himself as a Singaporean first before Chinese, Malay, Indian, and Eurasian. The testimony to this is the island itself where the layers of the three main races complement and supplement each other. From enclaves such as Chinatown, Geylang Serai, and Little India to the Asian Civilizations Museum to any public hawker centre where one can find any of the culinary delights of the respective races, the mood is warm, friendly and harmonious.
Being in Singapore the so much to see and do
1. Festival of the Hungry Ghosts (22 Aug to 20 Sept)
Various venues
According to Taoists belief, the gates of hell are thrown open during the seventh month of the Chinese Lunar Year, and spirits are allowed to wander the earth for the whole month. To appease these homeless spirits, sumptuous banquets and Chinese operas are held. On addition, candles and joss-sticks are lit in a row in front of some Chinese homes and ‘hell currency’ notes are burnt as offerings. Outdoor concerts and colorful ‘wayangs’ (Chinese street operas) can be seen on street corners in Chinatown and other venues throughout the island.
2. Singapore River Fiesta (1 to 15 Aug)
Singapore River
Adding to the color and festivity of the National Day celebrations is the Singapore River Fiesta with an exciting calendar of events lasting two weeks. There’s dancing with the Read Bridge Marathon Party, Red & White Party and Golden Bridge Party, fireworks and music with the Singapore Symphony Orchestra and a Rivers of the World Carnival. And if you’re in the mood for some competition, join in the Birthday Cake Contest and the Great Singapore Duck Race. Special promotions are also offered by the shops and restaurants along the Singapore River.
3. The Singapore Carnival (30 Aug)
East Coast Park
A day of bustling activities at this carnival starts with the Great Singapore Workout. There are also pockets of performances and parades as well as events such as canoe races, sports stations, displays of air defense systems, photography exhibitions and health fairs. Admission is free those wanting to participate in the Great Singapore Workout should contact the Singapore Carnival Organizing Committee at phone: 34052662
4. Singapore International Film Festival (Apr/May)
Capitol cinema / various Golden Village Cinemas
The film festival showcases award-winning and critically-acclaimed film with no less than 150 features and short films from 35 countries.
5. Singapore Festival of Art (May / Jun)
Various venues
Witness cutting-edge performances alongside a bonus fringe festival. Highlights include modern dance, Japanese Kabuki, Shakespearean plays and mime shows.
6. Singapore Food Festival (1 to 31)
Savour delectable servings of coal, international and New Asia-Singapore cuisine whipped up in hawks centers and gourmet restaurants. Join in special events such as the Gourmet Safari.
7. Thaipusam (10 Feb. 99)
Chettiar Temple
This festival is awesome display of mind over matter as entranced devotees walk a three-kilometer route with the enormous kavadis (portable-shrines) pierced to their bodies by spikes and skewers.

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