Rants and raves about stuff happening in and around my life in Singapore

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Singapore Songkran Failure

12:45 PM By Barry Smyth , , 1 comment

I have to laugh when I heard that Singapore will hold its own “Celebrate Songkran 2014” festival at the Padang open field opposite Singapore’s City Hall. In my opinion it is nothing more than a blatant attempt to try to cash in on the festival itself by the Singapore Tourism Board. Songkran is a festival that welcomes in the Lunar New Year and is celebrated in many countries but famous in Thailand for the uninhibated celebrations with water a plenty.

Just as the Grinch stole Christma now Singapore is trying to steal Songkran, chasing visitors to attend its own version of the traditional Thai New Year water festival. No doubt the Singapore Tourism Board realised that at this time of year tourism figures go down as many people all over the world and even from Singapore head to Thailand during this period for the festivities. So they decided to jump onto the bandwagon in what has got to be the most dismal failure ever. So much so that I would advise the organisers to quietly quit their jobs to save themselves from further embrassment.

Yes, Singapore will celebrate Songkran but there will be no water pistol fights, celebrity dunk stations, or really, any kind of water fun at Singapore's first Songkran water festival on April 12 and 13. The organisers of Celebrate Songkran 2014 at the Padang have taken heed of the national campaign to conserve water and dropped the water-based activities.

Instead, (sic) they will host a Water Conservation and Water Heritage Exhibition in conjunction with national water agency PUB.

And so the very meaning of Songkran has been diltued (pun intended) before it's even got of the ground. You see the use of water isn't just a frivalious activity, no, it is meant as a blessing and a sign of respect. In fact it is the most fundemental element of the festival itself, so without it there can be no Songkran.

Local reaction in Thailand has been swift to the news that Singapore intends to hold its own Songkran festival at the same time as Thailand's traditional festival. Indeed the Culture Surveillance Bureau director Yupa Taweewattanakijbaworn is reported to have said "Singapore is using the festival to promote tourism, without acknowledging the value of the traditions behind Songkran". And it would seem given the distinct lack of water available at Singapore's small scale copycat version the words have proven to be true.

In my opinion Singapore simply cannot compete for this Thai festival and it's attempt to do so it quite frankly laughable. It will be the LAST place anyone with any interest in Songkran would want to be. You see Thailand doesn't celebrate Songkran in a tiny little field with no water, no, it's a Country wide celebration involving every member of the community because THAT is what Songkran is really about.

I have been to Songkran many times, and although I hadn't planned on going this year I might just change my mind in silent protest.

Shame on you Singapore.

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