Monday, January 10, 2011

Lion Dance Banned in Singapore!

That's right: soon, lion dance may be banned in Singapore!


Not really!

Today, we are already witnessing our fellow Hindu Singaporeans being bullied and forced to give up their traditional way of celebrating Thaipusam. And what do we - non-Hindus - do? Nothing!

Tomorrow, it will be Chinese Singaporeans' turn! It is not far-fetched at all that some people will come along and complain about the noise generated by the lion dance troupes, and force the government to ban lion dance during Chinese New Year! And what will non-Chinese Singaporeans do at that time? Nothing!

And the day after tomorrow, it will be Malay Singaporeans' turn: Malay drums to be banned during Malay weddings! And what will non-Malays do at that time? Nothing!

And so, with this kind of attitude - each of us minding our own business, unless and until some policy affects us in a personal way - slowly every race in Singapore is bullied and one by one, forced to give up on its tradition and culture.

Not far-fetched at all!

For 45 years since our independence:
  • Thaipusam has always been celebrated with loud music, gongs and drums.
  • Chinese New Year has always been celebrated with loud lion dance performances.
  • Malay Weddings have always been celebrated with loud drumming
All these years, did anyone complain?


But now, suddenly, for the first time ever since independence, someone complained - and complained so much - that the authorities decided to give in to them and chose to ban our local traditional celebration.

Who are the "residents of new homes along the procession’s 4km route from Serangoon Road to Tank Road"?

Native Singaporeans or new immigrants from ____, unfamiliar and unwilling to appreciate our local culture (but expecting us to "integrate" and "show respect" to their culture instead)?

And now that I have written this piece, what is going to happen to me? Get arrested under the Sedition Act, just in time before lion dance is banned in the upcoming Chinese New Year? Who is the one that is really causing disharmony and ill-feelings among the different races/religious groups in Singapore - the person who bans tradition which generate "noise" for just 1 out of 365 days (during the day time, btw), or the person who highlight the banning?

To the "residents of new homes along the procession’s 4km route from Serangoon Road to Tank Road", I say to you:

Fuck you! This is Singapore and this is how we have been living since 1965 and this is how we will continue to live, for as long as Singapore is an independent country: we will celebrate our multi-racial, multi-religion society with its varied and yes, loud, celebration. So if you are not happy, fuck off and get out of Singapore! Because we will not change ourselves to "integrate" with you! You should be the one adapting and accommodating.

(And that's assuming you are not from Singapore. If you are, wake up your cheebye idea: Thaipusam has always been celebrated like that since you were a baby! You, as a native Singaporean, don't know meh? If you cannot even tahan loud Indian music for one day (during the day-time), why the fuck you go buy a house along that stretch of road? You never watch how Thaipusam was celebrated on TV before meh?

If you can't even tolerate a traditional Singapore festival for 1 of out 365 days (and it's not at 10pm, but 10am!), you shouldn't be living in Singapore, because apart from Thaipusam, we also have Chinese New Year's lion dance, and Malay wedding drums, and Chinese traditional funeral - all of which occur on more days than the one-day Thaipusam! You better go live in some mono-race, mono-religion country which hopefully will celebrate its mono-culture without any loud music or drumming or street parades, or fireworks!)

The Straits Times
Friday, January 7, 2011
Thaipusam set to turn down volume
New guidelines ban traditional loud music and drumming from the annual procession
By Yen Feng

This year’s Thaipusam celebrations will be a quieter affair if guidelines made public for the first time on Thursday by the Hindu Endowments Board (HEB) are enforced.
Those participating in the procession on Jan 19 and 20 are barred from playing recorded music or sounding gongs or drums.

Traditionally, the music – often played at a deafening volume – is seen as encouragement for those who pierce their bodies as an act of faith. Now, only the singing of hymns will be permitted.

Other rules include no shouting, and no paint or makeup to be used on either the devotees’ faces or bodies. Those who flout the rules may be barred from future processions – or face a fine of up to $5,000 under the Public Order Act.

And for the first time, spike or chariot kavadi bearers are required to nominate a representative who will be responsible for their conduct.

The HEB said the rules mirrored guidelines set by the police for permits to hold Thaipusam celebrations. But they were put together for the first time this year for the public to address long-standing issues of crowd and noise control, officials from the two temples organising the procession said.

The temples are the Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple in Serangoon Road, and the Sri Thendayuthapani Temple in Tank Road. Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple chairman K. Rajandeeran said the move would not compromise the procession’s religious nature, and would “ensure public safety and that it takes place in an orderly manner”.

Every year, tens of thousands of Hindus take to the streets to give their thanks to Lord Murugan, an important Hindu deity. Sometimes, expatriates unfamiliar with HEB guidelines have joined in.

Last year a 10-year-old visitor from India was seen carrying a spiked kavadi – wood or metal structures fied onto devotees’ bodies – when only those above 16 are allowed to pierce their bodies.

Mr K. Kannappan, trustee of the Sri Thendayuthapani Temple, said residents of new homes along the procession’s 4km route from Serangoon Road to Tank Road complained about the noise last year. “So this year, we will be better neighbours,” he added.

The rules evoked mixed reactions among devotees, with Mr Raj Kumra, 34, who walked in last year’s procession, saying they are a dampener. “The music, the sounds, all that is part of celebrating Thaipusam. It’s our way of giving thanks for our blessings,” he said.

But they will not mean much to Mr Sankar Suppiah, 40, a devotee who has carried a kavadi for the last 20 years. He said: “This is a powerful religious experience for me. I do it for myself, for my family. Rules do not change that.”

Before any non-Hindus reading this dismiss this issue as "trivial", imagine how you will feel if your Chinese lion dance / Malay wedding drums etc is banned! How would you feel then?

Today, we don't speak up for them.
Tomorrow, it will be our turn.
Singaporeans should stand up for each other, regardless of race, language or religion!

And no, that's NOT a highfalutin ideal.
That's our National Pledge!


denise said...

Im with u on this! If foreigners want to come to singapore, they have to learn OUR way of life.right now, it seems like singaporeans are the minority and instead, WE AS SINGAPOREANS IN OUR HOME COUNTRY have to learn from them! It's seriously ridiculous. these foreigners come here and deprive REAL singaporeans of a job, home and country!

Moses said...

I did'nt know we have become such an intolerent people. i'm not Hindu, but I'd respect their 1 time a year religious practices.

Jo. 憶 said...

OMG!i am non-hindus,i didn't know about this news after reading i really can't believe this this is happening in our multi-racial society. sad... so sorry fellow singaporean i am really so out of touch!