Tuesday, July 22, 2014

An exclusive roof-top access during the Ramadan Trail 2014 at Sultan Mosque



The Ramadan Trail organized by the Sultan Mosque is back again!

This year, the Ramadan Trail takes participants to an exclusive access to the roof-top of the annexed building. From the roof-top, participants can have a closer view of the Sultan Mosque's iconic golden domes. Participants will witness for ourselves the two iconic golden domes of the Sultan Mosque.



In addition, visitors participating in the Ramadan Trail will be brought to the ablution area to learn how ablution is performed. During the tour, one of our hosts gave us a demonstration of how ablution is performed. The key purpose of ablution is to cleanse, both internally (spiritually) and externally (physically). After the tour, I did a search on Google and found a site that summarizes the steps of performing ablution: http://islam1.org/how_to_pray/wudu.htm

This gentleman gave a demonstration of how ablution is being performed.

After learning about how ablution is performed, participants were led to the entrance of the mosque's main prayer hall. We had a good view of the mosque's main prayer hall. I noticed the carpets in the main prayer hall are new! Our guide shared with us the reason why male and female Muslims pray at different parts of the mosque. Our guide also gave us a demonstration of how prostration is being performed in Islam. During this part of the Ramadan Trail, our guide also gave participants a brief introduction to Islam.

The main prayer hall. Sultan Mosque.

A large group of participants at the Ramadan Trail, Sultan Mosque.

For the participants who have attended the Ramadan Trail in the previous years, the exclusive roof-top access up the Annex Building was worth waiting for. I appreciate having a closer view of Sultan Mosque against the evening skies. Up at the roof-top, our guides shared with us a number of the interesting architectural features of Sultan Mosque. One of the interesting features of the mosque is that the dark-green-colour base of the mosque's domes are decorated with the bottom of glass bottles that were donated by the poor. This enabled everyone in the community (the rich and the poor, the young and the old) to contribute to the building of the Sultan Mosque.


View of Sultan Mosque from the roof-top of the Annexed Building.


After the exclusive roof-top access, participants attended a brief presentation at the auditorium by one of the mosque's volunteers. The presentation highlights the significance of the month of Ramadan. I learnt that during the month of Ramadan, Muslims would take their meals before dawn and break fast at sunset. It is a common practice to share food with neighbours, relatives, friends and the poor during the month of Ramadan. During the last ten days of Ramadan, Muslims are strongly encouraged to take part in optional late-night prayers for spiritual benefits.

A presentation on Ramadan.

Concluding the Ramadan Trail is the experiential "Buka Puasa" in which tour participants could experience the breaking of the fast together with our fellow Muslim hosts and Muslim participants. I learnt that Muslims will break their fast with dates. So I was mindful to start the "Buka Puasa" experience by starting with a date. One of my Muslim friend who attended the Ramadan Trail shared with me that after breaking their fast with dates and some light food, it is common for the Muslims to go for prayers before taking other food.

Time for Buka Puasa.

I am grateful that the Sultan Mosque opens its doors to non-Muslims like myself so that we can learn more about Islam and the significance of Ramadan. During the tour, I noticed that we have Muslim friends who joined the Ramadan Trail too so as to learn more about the Sultan Mosque. It is heartening to learn that the Ramadan Trail is gaining in popularity over the years.

My heartfelt thanks to Sultan Mosque and the guides for the Ramadan Trails for the enriching and interesting experience. The tour helped me to better appreciate the culture and religion of our Muslim Friends.

Sultan Mosque after the sun has set.

The Ramadan Trail is open to everyone. This year, the Ramadan Trail will be held on 2, 3, 7, 9, 10, 14, 16, 17, 21 and 23 Jul 2014. Registration from the tour starts at 5.30 p.m. The tour commences at 6 p.m. Admission is free. It is strongly encouraged to book in advance. To do so, please contact Liyana at Tel: 62934405 or email nurliyana@sultan.mosque.org.sg

Sultan Mosque
3 Muscat Street
Singapore 198833
Nearest MRT station: Bugis



****
Please find the following posts on my past experiences of the Ramadan trail:

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall Open House Weekend - 19 and 20 July 2014

The refurbished Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall. Jul 2014.

Visit the Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall this weekend and witness a significant milestone for the arts and cultural community in Singapore. After a four-year refurbishment and redevelopment, the Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall is opening its doors once again. During the special Open House weekend on 19 and 20 July 2014, the general public can look forward to free performances and guided tour. The Open House will be a good opportunity to catch a sneak preview of this national monument. For more information, please visit www.vtvch.com

Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall. Taken in Mar 2005.

Different people would have different memories of the Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall. Some remember it as place where they have registered for their ABRSM exams. Others remember it as a performing arts venue. Some remember it as a place where art exhibitions were held. I know of friends who were previously members of the Singapore National Youth Orchestra who have spent many of their younger days rehearsing at the Victoria Concert Hall.

A photo of the stairway leading to the Victoria Concert Hall. Taken in the year 2010.

During the Open House weekend, there are irememberVictoria collection booths to collect our favourite memories of the Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall. irememberVictoria is a collaboration between Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall and the Singapore Memory Project. Members of the public are encouraged to snap our most creative shots of the refurbished venue and hashtag our photos to #irememberVictoria.

For myself, I fondly remember the red-carpeted stairways, the façade of the clock tower and concert hall. I have some vague memories of the backstage of the Concert Hall and the Theatre too.

Special thanks to the invitation of the National Arts Council and the Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall via Waggener Edstrom Communications, I have a tour about the Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall on the first day of the Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall Open House Weekend.

The central atrium. Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall. Taken in 2014.
Notice the two varied designs.

The tour began at the Central Atrium which forms the central passageway between Victoria Theatre and the Concert Hall. I learnt that the façade of the two buildings was retained and some elements belonging to the original 1905 structure was restored. Through the restoration of the Central Atrium, the central passageway between Victoria Concert Hall and Victoria Theatre which existed originally in 1905 was reinstated. I like the fact that the central atrium provided ease of accessibility to the nearby Arts House.

Interestingly, the Central Atrium presents two varied designs reflecting the new and the old. Be prepared to see how these two varied designs, the ornate archways and columns of the Victoria Concert Hall and the new relief etched precast panels of the Victoria Theatre, seamlessly merge and yet contrast with one another.

Looking down at the central atrium from Level 3. Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall.
Taken in Jul 2014.

The tour also took us to the Victoria Theatre which underwent a major overhaul of its interior. The redeveloped theatre has an optimised seating capacity of 614. At first sight, it felt like an intimate space in which the predominantly curved seating plan brings the audience closer to the performers on stage.

Victoria Theatre. Jul 2014.

Outside the Theatre. Jul 2014.
Notice a modernised floating Rubik's Cube clad with timber seat backings from the original Victoria Theatre chairs.

During the tour, it was brought to our attention that the iconic 54-metre high clock tower was restored during the recent four-year refurbishment. Gillette and Johnson, the manufacturer of the clock tower's clock mechanism, restored and serviced the clock mechanism. In addition, an auto-winding feature was installed. This meant that no longer would there be a need to climb up the clock tower to manually wind the clock.

The view of the clock tower from the atrium. Jul 2014.

Part of the clock's mechanism. Inside the clock tower. Special access is required to see this. Jul 2014.

The Klais organ at the Victoria Concert Hall was showcased in a free performance by Dr Margaret Chen on the first day of the Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall Open House Weekend. The sound from the Klais organ can fill the entire concert hall with good vibes literally. I like the interiors of the refurbished Concert Hall. The ceilings have been replaced to suit acoustics requirements. The balcony overhang of the circle seats area was reduced to free up volume and improve acoustics.

The Concert Hall. Jul 2014.

Waiting for a performance to start. Victoria Concert Hall. Jul 2014.

By the end of the tour, I was looking forward to attending more performances at the Victoria Concert Hall and the Victoria Theatre in the near future. In the meantime, do check out the Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall Open House Weekend.

At the Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall Open House Weekend. 19 Jul 2014.

The side arcades of the Victoria Concert Hall.
A space for the audience and artists to interact. Jul 2014.

Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall. Jul 2014.


Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall Open House Weekend
19 and 20 July 2014 (Sat and Sun)
10 a.m. - 7 p.m.
Victoria Theatre, 9 Empress Place, Singapore 179555
Victoria Concert Hall, 11 Empress Place, Singapore 179558
Admission: Free
Nearest MRT stations: City Hall, Raffles Place
Visit www.vtvch.com for more information
Note: Guided tours run from 11.00 a.m. - 5.30 p.m. at half hour intervals on a first-come-first-served basis.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Art and History Tours at Gillman Barracks


If you have visited Gillman Barracks recently, you may find yourself enjoying world class contemporary art works as if you were out of Singapore.

Gillman Barracks is located on the site of a former military camp. It is now home to 15 international galleries that are housed in conserved colonial barracks. The galleries are set amid a landscape that looked as if one is in a countryside. Such a landscape is very different from the familiar high-rise landscapes of Singapore.

When I was there, I enjoyed the walks from one gallery to another under the tropical and humid weather. Away from the urban landscape, Gillman Barracks would be considered a place of retreat for people who prefer to stay away from the air-conditioned malls and to be closer to art and colonial style architecture.



One challenge is that appreciating contemporary art may not come easy for everyone. How could a novice navigate the spaces at Gillman Barracks in less than two hours and yet gain some appreciation of some of the art works on display?

Special thanks to the Friends of The Museum, trained docents will be giving public guided tours at Gillman Barracks. The guided tours provide insights to the world class contemporary art works located within Gillman Barracks and an introduction to the rich history and nature of the site.

I have attended one of the Art and History tours at Gillman Barracks and I have found that it lent me insights to appreciating the art works at Gillman Barracks.

The tours run on a weekly basis from Fridays to Sundays at varied timings. Prior registration is required. For more information, please visit http://gillmanbarracks.com/others/Gillman-Barracks/277

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Ramadan Trail at Sultan Mosque 2014

Sultan Mosque.

The Ramadan Trail organized by the Sultan Mosque is back again. This special tour introduces us to the significance of the month of Ramadan. There will be a guided tour of the mosque. To conclude the trail, guests will be invited to "Buka Puasa" to experience the breaking of the fast with the Muslims.
The Ramadan Trail is free-of-charge. If you enjoy the trail, I would suggest that you could consider showing your appreciation with a word of thanks to the people who makes this possible or make a humble donation to the mosque.
1. Sultan Mosque annual Ramadan Trail. 2 to 23rd July 2014. Only on every Monday, Wednesday and Thursday. This means that the Ramadan Trails will be held on the following dates: 2, 3, 7, 9, 10, 14, 16, 17, 21 and 23 Jul 2014.
2. Registration starts at 5.30 p.m. The tour commences at 6 p.m. Please go in by the Bussorah Mall entrance and register with the docents at entrance. Do note that you will have to remove your shoes.
3. Please book in advance. Contact Liyana at Tel: 62934405 or email: nurliyana@sultan.mosque.org.sg

Sultan Mosque
3 Muscat Street
198833
Singapore

(Nearest MRT station: Bugis)

Look for this banner. I remember the registration counter is nearby this banner.


VISITOR’S NOTE (taken from the mosque's website)
1. Visitors are only allowed to enter via the Main Entrance only ( Facing The Bussorah Mall)
2. Must be properly attired. Robes are available at counter.
3. Remove footwear and observe strict cleanliness.
4. To observe respect and maintain silence.
5. Visitors are not allowed to enter the Main Prayer Hall & 2nd Floor Prayer Hall except with the company of mosque official.
6. Photo taking is allowed. Prior approval will be required for video filming during the tour.
7. Keep your belongings with you at all times.
8. In doubt, please approach the staff on duty.

Please find the following posts on my past experiences of the Ramadan trail:
If you are going for the Ramadan Trail, you may like to know that there will be a Ramadan Foodfest 2014 taking place outside Sultan Mosque from 29 Jun - 26 Jul 2014, 2 p.m. - 9 p.m. daily.

The Ramadan Foodfest 2014.