NOTHING brings Singaporeans together quite like food.
Last night, 600 people gathered over pots of Indian, Malay, Eurasian and Chinese curry to watch the screening of the National Day Parade.
The Singapore Kindness Movement helped residents to organise the makan sessions to encourage neighbours to bond over food, said its general secretary William Wan. The street parties were held in two Siglap and Mountbatten housing estates.
"We want to celebrate the idea that in Singapore, there are neighbours who intentionally seek to be neighbourly," he said. "Neighbourliness is part of kindness, it's about being friends."
Dr Wan acknowledged the 2011 incident when a family from China complained about the smell of their Indian neighbours' curry - sparking an outcry. But he said: "We want people to remember that curry can also be a positive thing. Here, instead of dividing people, curry is going to unite people."
At Jalan Bintang Tiga in Siglap, the National Day street party has been an annual affair for 13 years. Said co-organiser and resident James Suresh, 57: "We wanted to get our kids in the habit of reaching out to their neighbours." His wife Evelyn was in charge of the pot luck while his son Shankar tied water balloons for a post-parade water fight.
"It's not very difficult to organise," said Mr Suresh. "You just have to be thick-skinned at the start and go around knocking on doors."
His neighbour, insurance manager Roy Loh, 65, said: "It's wonderful, fostering ties in the neighbourhood. We've come here with the whole family for so many years."