Sunday, February 25, 2007

Chingay

Chingay is an annual parade that takes place during Chinese New Year in Singapore. The word "Chingay" was used as early as the 19th Century for various processions around the region of Southeast Asia that focused on the welcoming of Spring (Chinese New Year is also called The Spring Festival). It appears that Chingay parades were born in Penang, Malaysia, and spread throughout the region.

Singapore's annual parade is now held on Orchard Road during the Chinese New Year. During the 1970's and early 80's, when Chingay became a regular affair, the parade used to tour the residential neighborhoods. The parade was made an annual event in 1973 when firecrackers were banned during New Year celebrations (and any other time) in Singapore. Many Singaporeans grumbled about the institution of the ban, saying that it would dampen the Chinese New Year atmosphere. The government then began hosting Chingay, in an effort to keep the spirit of New Year lively and exciting.

Each year, the parade is a huge event. Acrobats, lion dancers, pugilists, and all sorts of performers and entertainers make their way down Orchard Road. Chingay is the only day of the year that Orchard Road will be closed to traffic, and the atmosphere on that day can be a real thrill to any who go and partake in the celebrations.

You can view photos of Chingay at their website.


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