Chingay is an annual street parade held as part of the Chinese New Year celebrations. The word “Chingay” is derived from the Chinese term zhuangyi, meaning "the art of costume and masquerade". It originated in China's Fujian province, and refers to the decorated floats depicting religious and historical scenes that were carried on the shoulders of men.
Originally a religious festival, it is believed that Chingay was brought to Penang by 19th-century Chinese immigrants.
In Singapore, Chingay processions were known to have taken place in the late 19th to early 20th centuries.
The modern Chingay parade was mooted by Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew. After firecrackers were banned in 1972, he had the idea of holding a parade similar to those held in Penang.
The noise of a parade could whip up the festive mood like the firecrackers, which was a Chinese New Year custom to drive away evil spirits.
The first parade, organised by the People’s Association and the Singapore National Pugilistic Association was held on Feb 4, 1973.
Early parades were held in the heartlands. In 1985, it was held for the first time in Orchard Road. In 1987, the parade featured its first foreign acts when The Straits Times sponsored four Japanese performers.
Through the years, the parade has evolved into a national celebration, attracting local and international participants.
Pictures curated by Simon Ker who was assisted by Zarinah Mohamed and Doris Goh.
Photographs can be purchased from the Information Resource Centre, tel: 63195726, 63195508
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