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My final installment of the Ramadan Bazaars. A pictorial lament...
cul·ture [kuhl-cher]  
noun, verb, cul·tured, cul·tur·ing.
1. the quality in a person or society that arises from a concern for what is regarded 
as excellent inarts, letters, manners, scholarly pursuits, etc.
2. that which is excellent in the arts, manners, etc.
3. a particular form or stage of civilization, as that of a certain nation or period: Greek culture.
4. development or improvement of the mind by education or training.
5. the behaviors and beliefs characteristic of a particular social, ethnic, or age group: 
the youth culture; the drug culture
[taken from]
In my final installment of this Ramadan Bazaar series of photography works, I headed to Geylang Serai, that traditional bastion of everything Malay, from food to clothing, and all the other related peripherals.
But what I saw is a sad state of affairs when it comes to the celebration of Ramadan/Eid. No longer is there a resemblance of any form of celebration. Well maybe a little hint here and there.
What I see is a manifestation of greedy commercialization masking as an endeavour to prop up a cultural practice that is seemingly much better seen celebrated and felt in other nooks of this tiny little island.
It is perhaps not a surprise then that when asked about the consumers' responses to the bazaar, most if not all of the traders complained about a significant drop of business this year, compared to previous years. Some reported as high as 70%. But whether this is a fact, or just the poor laments of someone who has stretched his estimated financial gains too thinly, remains to be seen, but it is sad when the celebratory nature of the 'festivals' is just measured purely by the commercial gains of the few.
And what is even more pathetic is the preponderence of stalls, traders, and decoration that bears not even an iota of relation to the celebration of Ramadan/Eid. Perhaps there are loopholes in the system of obtaining the rights to organise this bazaar that allows such things to happen, or perhaps....
Speculations and assumptions are indeed dangerous grounds to tread when everything is not well! All I can hope and wish for is that more can be done to ensure that all is not lost, in this one final reserve for everything Malay.
There is no doubt that there are external niches that has been accepted in the clothing business scene, especially in the Geylang Serai bazaar. Consumers are now looking for these other niches, and are more open and able (financially) to obtain these differentiated items. Amongst them are clothes from the Indian community, which honestly, is not such a bad option, given the quality of finishing and the variety of designs being offered.
The setting up of toy stalls amongst the myriad of Ramadan/Eid-related stalls just boggled me, and the photo of this Spiderman inflatable with a string around his neck is a reflection of what got into my mind when I see these stalls springing up, and standing out like a sore (big) thumb.
“Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.” Mark Twain.
And so the saying goes, maybe I should add, "...and curtains, and dining table runners maketh a Malay house during Eid'. Nothing is perhaps as important to some households, as having a fresh set of curtains and table runners for the coming Eid. You can call it superficial, but what matters to me is that they are happy!
One just can't go to the Geylang Serai Ramadan bazaar without savouring the food, and this is where the rows of food on offer offers somewhat a saving grace to my caustic comments earlier. Enjoy them while you can!
Part of the pathetic street light decoration that was put up as part of the bazaar. I think it got lost on the decoration designers (which I like to assume is a non-Malay) that the traditional kite (known as wau and seen in the centre part of the picture above) is not something exactly representative of the Ramadan/Eid celebrations. These booboo, and a few others, were of course the cause of some negativity of the community towards the overall organization of the bazaar here at Geylang Serai. Something I hope could be done much better in the years to come, lest we lose this little piece, just like how we 'lost' the Malay Village (refer to my previous work, The Forgotten Village).