Tropical Singapore has no seasons, but traces of the annual cycle remain in traditional festive celebrations. Two heritage institutions have just launched celebrations pegged on spring and the beginning of a new year. The Indian Heritage Centre is marking the harvest festival of Pongal with a mix of live and virtual activities. Visitors can learn how to create a kolam - motifs made with rice flour - and join urban gardening workshops. The Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall has installed a couple of bright guardian lions on its lawn to kick off its Wan Qing Festival of Spring. Like the heritage centre, the memorial hall is offering hybrid programmes this year, with lion dance and drumming workshops on site as well as educational programmes online.
These festivals may have originated in different parts of the world, but the rituals, practices and beliefs reflect the commonalities of human communities. Both festivals celebrate harvest bounty, offer thanksgiving, and express hopes for a prosperous year ahead. Members of these communities will be busy with familiar rituals of spring cleaning, buying new clothes for the season and preparing delicacies to share with family and friends. The incoming Chinese zodiac animal this year is the ox, a beast of burden which is also revered by the Hindu community as a bringer of agricultural gifts to humankind.