Home > migrants, Olympus PEN EP3 + Panasonic Lumix 20mm f1.7, Singapore > From Iftar to Getai, ft. Chillaxing on Sentosa

From Iftar to Getai, ft. Chillaxing on Sentosa

It is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and the seventh month of the Chinese lunar calendar.

Arab Street and Sultan Mosque Mamak Shop
Fabric Shop, Kampong Glam Look at the Potential, Fabric Shop, Kampong Glam
This means that weekly dinners in Kampong Glam are much more fun now that the Muslim month of fasting, Ramadan, is here. It feels a bit like we’re cheating since we don’t fast during the day but get to partake of iftar (huge post-fast meal) after the azan (prayer call) from Masjid Sultan to buka puasa (break fast).

Sultan Mosque Think Islam
Break-fast Porridge, Ramadan
On the grounds of Sultan Mosque, bubur asyura (rice porridge) is laid out for fast-breakers.

Kueh, Ramadan Bazaar Clothes Stall, Ramadan Bazaar
Yusuf Power, Ramadan Bazaar Pancake, Ramadan Bazaar
Kebab, Ramadan Bazaar Favourite Icy Chendol, Ramadan Bazaar
Favourite Icy Chendol, Ramadan Bazaar Bosnian Food, Ramadan Bazaar
Dates, Ramadan Bazaar Dates, Ramadan Bazaar
Dates, Ramadan Bazaar Tandoor Oven, Ramadan Bazaar
Ramadan Bazaar Drinks, Ramadan Bazaar
Rany Event Management organised the Bazaar Ramadhan along Kandahar Street this year, featuring kuehs, fresh pancakes, Famous Satay Burger selling…satay burgers, House of Briyani selling…yeah…,  Famous1 Icy Chendol (very sweet, not very icy), a wide selection of dates, Bosnian food, Riverwalk Tandoor serving naan baked on site on portable tandoors, kebabs from Amirah’s Grill (“King of Kebabs” – about ten years ago, there wasn’t a kebab available for retail sale and now they are everywhere),

Lemang, Ramadan Bazaar
Nasi stuff, Ramadan Bazaar Ramadan Bazaar
lemang and curries for nasi padang, nasi ayam penyet, nasi ambei, nasi sambal goreng etc,

Pakistani food, Ramadan Bazaar Indian Muslim Vadai, Ramadan Bazaar
a Pakistani stall selling bun kebabs and almond sherbets (very popular), Indian masala stall with mini vadai.

Good event management – featuring yummies from far-flung places like Bosnia and Pakistan would surely remind Muslims of the how global the Islamic brotherhood is.

Later in the evening, all around Muscat Street, Bussorah Street, Baghdad Street, Arab Street and Haji Lane (yes it does sound like a Middle Eastern disneyland), there are tables and chairs (in the case of Sufi’s Corner) and Turkish carpets laid out along walkways for people wanting to indulge in a bit of shisha (hookah). Probably not an imam-approved triumph-over-temptations-of-flesh activity.

Tanjong Beach Club, Sentosa Tanjong Beach Club, Sentosa
Tanjong Beach Club Tanjong Beach Club
Tanjong Beach Club Coastes, Silso Beach, Sentosa
Coastes, Sentosa Menu, Coastes, Silso Beach, Sentosa
(Stopped off at the beaches of Sentosa to take in some sea air. Tanjong Beach Club on Tanjong Beach went for a more retro luxurious feel while Coastes on Siloso Beach was more Aussie. TBC and Coastes were full of Caucasian expats. Several said approvingly that these places were quite cosmopolitan (perhaps = many of our sort).)

The seventh month on the Chinese lunar calendar is when Chinese Hell takes a vaccy and the dead are let out to roam the earth. The getai (歌台, song stage, rumbuctious live performances during Hungry Ghost Month) was given a boost by Royston Tan’s film, 881, and schedules can now be found online.

Gong at Lorong Koo Chye Sheng Hong Temple, Arumugan Road Lanterns at Gong at Lorong Koo Chye Sheng Hong Temple, Arumugan Road
Gong at Lorong Koo Chye Sheng Hong Temple, Arumugan Road Getai, Gong at Lorong Koo Chye Sheng Hong Temple, Arumugan Road
Getai, Gong at Lorong Koo Chye Sheng Hong Temple, Arumugan Road Ice-cream and drinks stall, Gong at Lorong Koo Chye Sheng Hong Temple, Arumugan Road
One of the most popular getais is the long-running one at the Taoist Lorong Koo Chye Sheng Hong Temple on Arumugam Road. The old lady i met said she comes here every single year. The crowds were so massive, if you came at 9pm, the best you could do was to peer from behind a tree (already draped with human bodies). The performers were 王雷/林茹萍/皓皓 (Ft. stars from TW, M’sia, HK),  the band: 威乐斯, the organiser: 丽星舞台秀 though the old lady maintained it was run by the temple itself.

How interesting to live in a multi-cultural society! What colourful sights, sounds, smells and tastes to be had!

Yet, in the last year, online forums and Facebook have been abuzz with Singaporeans angry at the government’s immigration policies:

  • the foreigners can’t speak English. If you come to Singapore, at least learn the common language!
  • the foreigners are taking our jobs, our children’s places in schools, our scholarships, our living spaces
  • the foreigners act differently and can’t adapt to our ways; they are rude and crude
  • they think they are better than us
  • they keep to themselves and don’t bother to integrate
  • soon, we will be outnumbered by the aliens in our own land!
  • crime rate has gone up since the influx of foreign talent.

Wouldn’t the same complainants cry foul if this was said of their relatives who migrated to the United States, Canada, Europe, the United Kingdom, Australia? Some have, themselves, been spat on in England and told to “Go home, Chink!”. So these are, in fact, the exact same issues that the locals in those countries have with their smelly Chinese, Indian or Malay fresh-off-the-boat neighbours.

While some empathy might be commendable, God requires much more of his people:

Remember that we too were migrants
First we must remember (if we aren’t descended from the orang laut living specifically on the island now called “Singapore”) that Singapore isn’t our land (and perhaps those orang laut were themselves migrants as well). The Chinese came from China, the Indians from India, many now classified as “Malay” from Indonesia, Malaysia and the Middle East etc. We were all migrants once, and just like present day migrants, our forefathers came to Singapore seeking better opportunities for themselves and their families.

Remember that it is God who gives people their lands, countries and nations
Any cursory read of the Old Testament will tell us that while kings and nations think it is their own power and might that allows them to conquer other people and flourish on their land, it is actually God who is in control of the comings and goings of civilisations and peoples.

This was later reflected in God’s commandment about property in the land he gave to the Israelites: “The land shall not be sold in perpetuity, for the land is mine. For you are strangers and sojourners with me.” (Leviticus 25:23)

Remember that we were all once strangers and aliens wrt God’s kingdom
We were once strangers and aliens separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise but are now, through the blood of the Lamb, fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God (Ephesians 2).

Remember that because we have no inherent right to our land or to our citizenship in God’s kingdom, we are to treat other aliens/foreigners in a certain way
King David remembered this well even after the Israelites settled in the promised land:”For all things come from you, and of your own have we given you. For we are strangers before you and sojourners, as all our fathers were. Our days on the earth are like a shadow, and there is no abiding.” (1 Chronicles 29:14b-15)

Previously, the Old Testament Israelites were foreigners, sojourning in Egypt to escape from the famine (later bits of Genesis). Remember that the Egyptians felt threatened by the proliferating Israelites and so enslaved them (Exodus 1). Remember too that after God punished the Egyptians and rescued the Israelites and was about to give their own land, he commanded them:

  • to love the stranger as themselves (“You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.” (Leviticus 19:33)) – no second-class treatment, no bias towards the native
  • to allow both the native and the foreigner (and the animals) adequate rest from their work (Exodus 23:12 – “Six days you shall do your work, but on the seventh day you shall rest; that your ox and your donkey may have rest, and the son of your servant woman, and the alien, may be refreshed.”)
  • not to oppress them especially since they might have been forced to go to Israel so as to find work and survive (“You shall not oppress a hired servant who is poor and needy, whether he is one of your brothers or one of the sojourners who are in your land within your towns.” (Deuteronomy 24:14))
  • to apply the law equally to the native as well as the sojourner who lived amongst them (Numbers 9:14, 15:15-16, 15:26, 15:29, 19:10)
  • to judge justly regardless of the nationality of the parties involved (“Hear the cases between your brothers, and judge righteously between a man and his brother or the alien who is with him” (Deuteronomy 1:6)”)
  • to show mercy equally to the native as well as the sojourner (Numbers 35:15, Joshua 20:9)
  • to make provision for them (Deuteronomy 24:19-21)

There was the expectation that there would come a time when the Israelites too would resent the foreigner in their midst.

Remember that God is concerned for the vulnerable and so should you
“For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and takes no bribe. He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing. Love the sojourner, therefore, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.” (Deuteronomy 10:17-19)

At the most fundamental level, this is one outworking of loving God and therefore loving neighbour by people who claim the salvific promises of God.

It is not just a good-to-do; it is God’s own commandment. Refusing to obey is fatal:

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me. I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” (Matthew 25:31-46)

Obeying God daily isn’t simple. But in light of God’s word including that bit about the Great Commission, perhaps there is much more we should do than, say, merely decline to Cook A Pot Of Curry.

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