Living in Singapore, one never knows what kind of celebration is awaiting behind the next corner. The country celebrates many of the christian, Hindu, Muslim, Malay, Chinese etc holidays, trying to do the impossible of pleasing everyone. Being a country of such cultural diversity, there is really no other option here though, rather than trying to give something to everyone. If every ethnic group would insist on keeping all their cultural holidays, the country would be at a constant stand-still.
Besides the official public holidays, of which each ethnic group has been credited 2 most important ones annually, people of course celebrate other important cultural milestones or sacred times on their own.
I live close to Little India where the importance of up-keeping own culture and traditions can be seen throughout the year. I’ve always admired Indians for their strong cultural identity and interest for staying through to their roots. Indians seem proud, and in a very positive way aware of who they are, integrating their roots and history and culture into their modern-day lives.
This morning I encountered yet another Indian celebration. Waking up to loud-speaker boosted speeches and cheerful celebration-music, I still wasn’t aware of the impact the ceremony would have on my morning. The near-by temple often gathers huge crowds and is celebrated with loud music, so I didn’t know to wonder. Until I ordered a taxi which needed 15 extra minutes to get to me, and another 20 minutes to get out of the neighborhood. 2 major streets had been closed from traffic causing enormous traffic jams, not unheard of but very uncommon in Singapore. Obviously being late from my meeting, I took the time in the taxi to google what my excuse should be.
What took place this morning was a consecration ceremony of the Hindu temple, organized to renew the purity of the temple. And even at 8 am, the masses had taken to the streets to take part in the ceremony.
Luckily the client took my delay rather well and even found it amusing why I had got stuck in the traffic so badly. We both got a small cultural lesson and I even learned a new word, “consecration” – from a traffic signal. Morning spent well, after all.