Sunday, August 10, 2014

Tiong Bahru in color + appeasing the dead (and the gods)

With film (non-instant), depending on how frequent I shoot, I take a week or more before I see the results. This makes the husband ask: "Why don't you just take digital (photos)?"

I suppose I'll answer that another day but for now, this is the set taken with the Diana F+ on the same day we did the Tiong Bahru Heritage Trail.

The Hungry Ghost Festival was a big deal for my brother and I when we were growing up. 'Sweeping' the ancestral grave was a half-day affair filled with heat, sweat, and smoke. Lots of smoke.

My parents have some taoist rituals which they would religiously perform year after year, and the smell of burning joss sticks and hell money was a familiar one growing up. However, they never imposed their religious beliefs on us.

While walking round Tiong Bahru, I see lots of red (and some rusty) burners that residents will bring out from cold storage (i.e. underneath their block) during the Hungry Ghost Festival or other significant events. It is such a big part of our heritage but we really don't notice it much.

I've always wondered: Who owns these burners? Terence says it belongs to the government; I am kind of surprised no one has walked off with those in my neighbourhood. Then again, who wants a smokey, rusty burner in their home anyway?

Another common sight in Tiong Bahru is the items some old-time residents place outside their windows. Looking at them, I think it's a way of fending off evil spirits and bringing good luck to the household? They are quite a common sight along the corridor of the pre-war flats. Think of them as heritage art installations by Tiong Bahru locals; you can't get more authentic than that.

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