Tag Archives: Celebrations

A day out with visiting Waseda peers during Singapore’s National Day

By Sharon NG, Singaporean, Nanyang-Waseda Double MBA Current Participant

My Nanyang-Waseda peers and I had a most intensive week when our counterparts from Waseda Business School Japan (mostly Japanese nationals) visited Singapore for their Summer Intensive Program. The short program speaks for itself – it was, indeed, intensive but also fun.  It was fascinating for me, too, as I was able to somehow play ‘guide’ to the group, including my Nanyang-Waseda classmates, which is  an international bunch of individuals coming from Japan, Korea, India, Philippines and Thailand. But how do you spend the national day with a large group of visitors?

9th of August is the day that Singapore became an independent republic, Singapore’s National Day.  That day, being a holiday, I dragged my lazy feet to school. Traffic was very smooth, less cars on the street, so that really made me feel slightly better. We had a ‘longer than usual’ half-day of lectures, and after which the group tucked into local food stall for lunch, with a serving of Singapore’s famous chicken rice – a dish of Chinese origin comprised of special chicken-flavored rice topped with roast chicken*,  slushed down with cooling lime juice (chicken rice is considered to be one of Singapore’ best dishes and Singapore is known for it, worldwide). With that, the group took off for a half-day sightseeing trip of Singapore.

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A rainbow connection – Celebrating Holi and Songkran the colorful and fun way!

Author: Sujata Sawai and Tai Yossiree, Class of 2011

On a bright Saturday afternoon, some thirty of us gathered together at Graduate Hall grounds to celebrate the advent of spring and celebrate two of Asia’s widely celebrated festivities – Songkran from Thailand and Holi, from India, last 16th of April.   In fact Holi has been celebrated at Nanyang by the MBA students for the last 3 years, while this is the first Songkran event celebration at Nanyang. And celebrating this together is a first too, we believe!

Songkran day is the celebration of Thai New Year, which falls in the middle of April of each year, and it is celebrated all over Thailand. With a long history people gather on the streets with water containers, water guns and white powder and splash or throw them on friends or passerby. However, on a serious note, the main purpose of Songkran day is to pay a visit to family or elders, and also to go to temple for Buddhist activities as Thais look forward to a better year.

Coming from Thailand (yes, that’s me – Tai), I feel that my classmates should not only experience Songkran the way how it is celebrated, but also to create a sense of unity as a family – doing activities outside of academic life like having fun together. Like what Songkran festival is all about – together, we will ‘wash away’ the sadness, tiredness and stress from our studies, and be ready for the new year to come!

Holi, on the other hand, is the spring religious festival celebrated by Hindus and dates back many centuries ago. It is primarily observed in India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka and countries with large Indic diaspora populations, such as Suriname, Malaysia, and Guyana, among others. Holi is celebrated at the end of the winter season on the last full moon day of the lunar month Phalguna (February/March), which, for this year, fell on 20th of March. Like Songkran, Holi is celebrated by throwing colored powder (dye powder) and colored water at each other. Traditionally, playful throwing of colored powder and water has medicinal significance, especially during the onset of spring which normally brings viral fever and cold due to change of weather (reference: Wikipedia.com). 

Finding clothes to discard was easy. We had to since we wanted to have fun throwing colored water and colored powder at our classmates- we knew that our clothes will be soiled and will be thrown away after the celebrations. We had a fantastic time splashing one another with colored water!

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Three stooges all soiled up – me (Tai) in the middle with Snigdha (left) and Reynold (right)

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We ran across the huge vacant field beside our graduate residence hall, and no one escaped the flurry of powder and water.

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Esmond’s makeshift shower but making a mess out of Alejandra (left) and Flora (right), while lonesome Scott pretends to be a Red Indian.

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Zos is trying to be serious out here, while Claudia playfully poses to the camera (Thank you both for the awesome photos!)

Everyone was ecstatic with joy as we messed our clothes – some went stumbling down on the ground laughing, diving into a mixture of mud and colored water, while others  chased madly those who have not been messed up with buckets of it (yes, buckets!) and ensured that they are messed up as well. Here at Nanyang, we ‘hit a lot ’ with this joint celebration – we gathered as  family, we cooled ourselves from the hot and humid weather of Singapore during this time and  cooled down  from the stress from studies, as well! Just like how I experienced it in India (Sujata), the day was filled with the spirit of joy, naughtiness, passion and enthusiasm. Even one of our classmates, Claudia, wished that there were celebrations like this in her home country – Germany! As Claudia puts it, “I really enjoyed celebrating Holi & Songkran with my fellow students. It was the first time for me to get to know these celebrations and helped me in understanding and experiencing Thai and Hindu culture. While we were throwing colours and water at each other, everybody was cheering, laughing.  In the end, I was completely covered in all kinds of colours… it was just a lot of fun! I wish we had a Holi and Songkran celebration in Germany, too! The cross-cultural festivals at NBS, like Mid-Autumn festival, Diwali and Holi & Songkran celebration, make my MBA in Singapore a memorable and unique experience for me. I’m looking forward to more of these!”

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Our classmates are having a fantastic time (topmost photo); We still look good despite being so ‘colorful’ – (from left to right) Mandar, Me (Sujata), Sameer and Vidushi.

And to end this day of fun, we had good food to nourish our near-aching bodies [from all those running and stumbling, and getting hit by throwing water]. We feasted on an awesome assortment of Thai and Indian food like Veg Pakoda, pineapple fried rice, Thai fish cake, and Thai banana in coconut milk (Prof Siri, you are fantastic in preparing this for us!). Nothing beats a hungry stomach, so we emptied everything on the table!

A shout out of thanks to our Student ExCo and the rest of our classmates for making this double celebration more fun and exciting! Who says that MBA students are no fun at all?

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Chinese New Year in Singapore

I have always been extremely thankful to be born in Singapore: A home that is not only known as one of the safest country in the world, but also a multi-racial, religious and harmonious community. Our forefathers came from all over the world and within a short span of 45 years, we have evolved from a rural fishing village to today’s cosmopolitan city of magnificent sky-scrapers and happening nightlife!

Alright, enough of the self-praise. Since Chinese New Year (CNY) is coming up (14th-28th February 2010), let me tell you more about the cultural aspects of Singapore. The rich mix of cultures in Singapore means there is always a cultural event to celebrate, all through the year. These festivals usually centre on race, religion, age-old myths and traditions. Oh, did you notice the array of abbreviations Singaporeans use? That’s part of the Singapore culture as well! ERP, CPF, MOE, NTUC…you’ll learn more as we go along!


The hub of all activity during CNY is of course, Chinatown. Sense the preparation excitement in the air as enterprising merchants line Terengganu Street and Pagoda Street (Nearest MRT Station: Chinatown Station) with their colourful stalls!

Get your traditional CNY goodies such as Love Letters (thin, crispy cracker emblazoned with auspicious symbols, rolled into a hollow tube), Pineapple Tarts, Kuih Bang Kit (milky cookie that melts in your mouth, made from tapioca flour and coconut milk) and many more! The free sampling of goodies there can fill you up for a meal! Yummy. Or buy some pussy willow, red-paper decorations or baskets of mandarin oranges for good luck. If you’re married and want to join in an age-old tradition, get some Hong Bao (small red envelopes) to give to those who are single. Don’t forget to slip in some dollar notes in the Hong Bao before you give it away!

River Hong Bao Carnival (5 Minutes Walk from City Hall Station)

One of the most awaited carnivals in Singapore, the River Hong Bao Carnival is a huge and lively fair, featuring a mind-boggling variety of food, traditional arts and folklore from ancient China. You will find the entire fairground decorated with floats of mythical creatures, legendary heroes, Chinese gods, pagodas and cherry blossoms.

Visiting performers and artisans, flown in from selected provinces in China, will perform nightly cultural performances ranging from acrobatics to Chinese calligraphy. You can even have your palm read, or get a special Chinese zodiac reading of your birth sign! You should visit this place if you want to learn and experience the CNY customs.

Chingay Parade (Nearest MRT: CityHall Station)

Started in 1973 as a procession to mark the CNY festivities, this annual parade is now the grandest street and floats parade in Asia, showcasing the rich, vibrant multi-ethnic and cosmopolitan cultures of Singapore as well as hundreds of renowned performers from all over the world.

The term ‘Chingay’ originated from Southeast Asia, and is a phonetic equivalent of the Chinese words “妆艺” (which means “a decorated display of culture and traditional skills). Today, the parade has evolved into a massive multi-cultural and international event with live telecast on local television every year. For 2010, it will be taking place at our very own F1 Racing Pit on 19th and 20th February. Tickets can be purchased from www.sistic.com.sg. Chingay is truly an all-out, multi-national party you must not miss!

Transport-wise, I would say that it is relatively easy to find your way around Singapore. Not that we are a mere “little red dot”, but it is because we have got a comprehensive and accessible transport system in place. A good way to avoid the festive jams is to take the MRT (Mass Rapid Transit, also known as our subway or train services), which will bring you swiftly to heart of Chinatown and City Hall.

It is just the beginning of February, but I can already sense how exciting this month will be! Got to go, I’m off to get new wardrobe additions for the Chinese New Year, and I can’t wait to experience the festive crowd at Chinatown tonight!