One of the wonderful things about Singapore is our multicultural society which allows us to easily experience the culture of others, whether it is the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival or a Malay wedding. One of the more colourful examples is Theemithi, the annual firewalking festival held at the Sri Mariamman Temple on South Bridge Road. (It takes place a week before Deepavali, on a Sunday.)
While many people know about the firewalking, few understand its significance and or why it even takes place. For an insider’s take on Theemithi, don’t miss curator Nalina Gopal’s deep dive into the festival, accompanied by some amazing photographs.
In this issue, we continue to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the fall of Singapore, this time with an essay by writer Shirlene Noordin. This is a piece that weaves in personal history and relentless detective work to bring us a deeply moving story about how her grandfather survived working on the Thai-Burma Railway.
On a happier note, we have a quirky story about an island resort that predated Sentosa – Sarong Island. Librarian Lim Tin Seng delves into a forgotten chapter in Singapore’s history.
Another fascinating piece recounts how Johor ended up exhibiting at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. The story by former Lee Kong Chian Research Fellow Faris Joraimi about how 25 men and women from Johor spent a cold Chicago spring demonstrating sarong weaving makes for interesting reading.
If popular culture is more your thing though, don’t miss our profile on Loke Wan Tho, the man behind Cathay Cinema and a fascinating figure in his own right. The piece by former librarian Bonny Tan looks at his interesting hobbies, such as birdwatching, and features wonderful images.
Meanwhile, we also revisit the early days of family planning, the making of the Monetary Authority of Singapore, the history of Union Book, and Cold War propaganda battles.
Plenty of great reads ahead, perhaps over the long Deepavali weekend. And to all our readers who celebrate it, I would like to wish you a Happy Deepavali!