SINGAPORE — The Mongolian community in Singapore has been eagerly anticipating the launch of the "Chrysanthemum Charm" floral display at the Gardens by the Bay, which opens on Friday (29 September).
They are hoping that the display, which will be hosted at the popular attraction until 13 November, will illuminate their rich heritage while addressing misconceptions.
In collaboration with the Embassy of Mongolia in Singapore, the floral display aims to transport visitors to the scenic meadows of Mongolia. Running alongside the main show on Saturday and Sunday is "Rhythm of Mongolia", which will feature diverse aspects of Mongolian culture including throat singing performance and a contortionist act.
Yahoo Southeast Asia understands that there are around 150 Mongolians living in Singapore.
Preserving authentic Mongolian culture
During the setting-up of the floral display on Monday, Bilguundemberel Munkhdemberel, the Mongolian Embassy's counsellor of bilateral relations, highlighted the importance of this showcase in accurately portraying Mongolian culture.
In an interview with Yahoo Southeast Asia, he explained, 'Mongolia is known for its history, but culturally, what I have noticed is many people have never experienced the true Mongolian culture - the authenticity, the cultural representation behind the smallest details, and the drastic, different way of the nomadic living style.
"A lot of Mongolians believe that they have been culturally misrepresented, because a lot of has been made about Mongolians conquering with war. That's just the surface of the history. and many people want to share the deep meaning behind the culture."
Munkhdemberel highlighted that living in a nomadic lifestyle necessitates preserving culture through traditions. He added, "Everything is passed down, father to son, mother to daughter, and because of that, even in the smallest detail in our culture, there is a very significant history behind it."
The centrepiece of the "Chrysanthemum Charm" display is a meticulously crafted life-sized Mongolian ger - which means "home" in Mongolian and more commonly referred to as a "yurt" in English.
Munkhdemberel explained the cultural significance of this undertaking, "This is more of an artistic and noble home, handcrafted 1,002 kilometres away from the city in a remote area. Families in the mountains use hand tools to make the yurt for at least two months."
He added that the ger symbolises the Mongolian community's commitment to preserving their culture, reflecting a sustainable and minimalistic way of life.
A year of preparation and cultural immersion
To ensure the event's authenticity, the Gardens by the Bay team invested a year in preparation and execution. They even spent five days in Mongolia, immersing themselves in the culture, gaining insights into Mongolian traditions and flora that inspired "Chrysanthemum Charm".
Deputy director of conservatory operations Melissa Tan underlined the attraction's commitment to showcasing Mongolian horticulture and expanding the diversity of floral offerings.
"We flew over there to learn more about the culture and to actually see the flowers there for ourselves because we want to really showcase to the whole world the horticulture here, how to broaden the scope of the array of the flowers here," she said.
The floral display will include at least 80 varieties of chrysanthemums, among which are 10-odd varieties that have never been seen in Southeast Asia, including chrysanthemum Vanya White.
Amos Tee, Gardens by the Bay's assistant director of design and development, highlighted their focus on capturing the essence of Mongolian culture, including traditional living arrangements like the ger, to offer visitors a more immersive experience.
Passing on cultural knowledge
Garid Erdenechuluun, a member of the Mongolian community in Singapore who has lived here for five years, expressed his joy in explaining his culture to others. He aims to provide a deeper understanding beyond stereotypes, which he hopes the events will also achieve.
"I find it extremely enjoyable to explain Mongolian culture, because some people may have formed their impressions from stories, movies, or anything they've watched or seen before," he told Yahoo Southeast Asia.
"I'm not sure what content they have consumed, but I have tried to properly explain what it is like and provide a brief history as well."
Taivan Tuya, another member of the Mongolian community who arrived in Singapore in 2021, highlighted the event's importance in bringing the community together.
"It's quite special for us, because the Mongolian community is not many. It's also my first time in the flower dome, so to have a piece of my culture is a very special moment," he said.
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