Just last week, the whole country was abuzz as we celebrated our 48th National Day on 9 August 2013. National Day celebrations in Singapore are always an elaborate affair and one that I love to partake in.
The highlight of the festivities is the Singapore National Day Parade. Each year, the National Day Parade presents an exciting display of fanfare, from the traditional parade march by all the uniformed organizations in Singapore to a stunning air acrobatics show by the air force to colorful stories of Singapore told in song and dance. This all leads up to a spectacular display of fireworks, which beautifully lights up the skyline of our central business district.
This year, the National Day Parade consisted of several different segments, taking participants on a journey through Singapore’s history and the dreams for the future. One of the segments was a fun chapter portraying the traditional folk stories that we were told by our elders.
Many of the stories feature the Merlion, an iconic symbol of Singapore. The body of the Merlion is of a fish, which represents Singapore’s history as a fishing village and the Merlion has the head of a lion, which represents Singapore’s Malay name “Singapura,” meaning lion city
One story of how the Merlion came into being dates back to when Singapore was still a fishing village. There was once a very bad stormy night that had engulfed the city in dark clouds and the raging winds had woken the villagers. As the terrified villagers watched the storm unfold, suddenly a bright light emerged from the Southern waters surrounding a mystical creature. The creature battled the waves and the storm and by morning the wind and the waves began to die down and the creature had retreated into the waters leaving a colorful trail.
Rumor has it that when the creature – the Merlion, had conquered the storm, it claimed its victory by standing on a proud perch on Mount Imbiah which is located on Sentosa Island. Today a large statue of the Merlion is erected at the Imbiah station on Sentosa Island, just a five-minute walk from Capella Singapore, where visitors can uncover the tales of the mythical creatures of the sea and find out their fortune for the year ahead.