For more than a decade now, a corner of Woodlands has shown, with refreshing regularity, how people have come together to appreciate and celebrate significant religious and cultural festivals regardless of their faith, status or ethnic background. It is all the more heartening to learn that this stemmed from a ground-up initiative by a long-time resident, whose creations grew in size and scope over the years on the back of positive feedback and encouragement from fellow residents.
The captivating displays, first started by carpenter Tan Koon Tat more than 10 years ago, have gained enough of a reputation to also attract visitors from around Singapore. And some argue that despite their simplicity, they rival - in spirit and creativity - displays seen in Orchard Road, Chinatown, Geylang and Serangoon Road when Christmas, Chinese New Year, Hari Raya or Deepavali come around. The self-funded decorations that appeared in the neighbourhood of Woodlands Street 13 included the God of Fortune, Indian elephants, a crescent moon and facade of a mosque and, most recently, a "snow-capped" log cabin with Santa on the porch. Mr Tan's aim was simply to generate enjoyment and a festive atmosphere in the heartland. But it is clear that over time, these endeavours have brought a sense of pride and community to residents in the neighbourhood and its surrounds. It has also increased the understanding and appreciation of Singapore's multiracial and multi-religious society, and how strong bonds can hold societies together.