The loud banging sounds of drums and the lighting of firecrackers scare away Nian, the Chinese legendary monster who is a problem during the Spring Festival or Chinese New Year. Although firecrackers have been prohibited in Singapore since 1972, they are still possible to join the festive mood at Chinatown’s Chinese New Year bazaar.
The area surrounding Chinatown has long been known as the best spot in Singapore for Chinese New Year shopping. A bazaar is erected in the cluster of Pagoda Street, Sago Street, Smith Street, Temple Street, and Trengganu Street each year in the month leading up to the Chinese New Year. This year’s event, which lasts for three days and two nights, will have more than 500 stalls selling a variety of goods, traditional decorations, barbecued sweetmeats, potted plants, and calligraphy prints.
Chinatown has long been recognized as Singapore’s Chinese settlement, dating back to the Raffles Town Plan of 1822. Since then, it has remained a Chinese cultural sanctuary. Chinatown, despite being less functional today due to a large number of Chinese people in Singapore, has a strong historical significance. The shophouses in the conservation zone still retain Chinese cultural features, and the locations of worship are a testament to its early settlers’ importance as a settlement hub.
Because of the many immigrants that arrived in Singapore, Telok Ayer was a landing site, and many of the oldest religious monuments can still be found on this part of Telok Ayer and Chinatown today.
- Thian Hock Keng Temple – the oldest Hokkien temple in Singapore, dedicated to Matsu, Goddess of the Sea, Queen of Heaven and Patron of Sailors.
- Fuk Tak Chi Museum – was one of the oldest former temple in Singapore which has turned into a museum.
- Nagore Dargah Indian Muslim Shrine – is a shrine in Singapore built by Muslims from southern India between 1828 and 1830, and was originally known as Shahul Hamid Dargha.
- Masjid Jamae/Chulia Mosque – is one of the earliest mosques in Singapore, and is located on South Bridge Road in the Chinatown district within the Central Area.
Despite its designation as a Chinese community, the various religious structures in Chinatown reflect Singapore’s multi-cultural and multi-religious society. Mosque Street may have taken its name from Masjid Jamae, which could explain the similarity in names. That is the charm of Singapore’s Chinatown – the mix of monuments and holy sites from a variety of cultures and religions.
The experienced will know that the finest bargains are reserved for the night before Chinese New Year, as throngs of shoppers flood the bazaar to do their holiday shopping. Last-minute discounts are common among vendors who wish to clear their shelves with the throngs that descend on the town for the Chinese New Year countdown. As one of the most important Chinese holidays in Singapore, perhaps there is no better location to celebrate Chinese New Year than Chinatown.
The Chinatown Chinese New Year 2013 celebrations came to a resounding close with a bright, colourful, and enjoyable conclusion, an unforgettable evening for all. Looking for outdoor lightings for your home? Check out Steinel Singapore’s Outdoor lights and motion sensor lights.