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East meets West: Here's what it's like to attend a Halloween festival thrown by a fengshui grandmaster

East meets West: Here's what it's like to attend a Halloween festival thrown by a fengshui grandmaster
Grand Master Tan Khoon Yong is a renowned fengshui master and the Artistic Director for Hello-Win Arts Festival.
PHOTO: AsiaOne

Dr Strange walked by, holding the hand of a mini-Spiderman who was clutching a bag filled with candy.

The odd-looking Marvel pair was followed closely by a group of Chinese jiangshis (hopping vampires) and a priest trailing behind them.

No this isn't a scene out of the latest Marvel multiverse blockbuster, but rather a scene of the Halloween celebrations at Woodgrove estate.

Conceived by residents back in 2007, the annual event in Woodlands sees the Woodgrove neighbourhood take the time and effort to decorate their houses for the occasion. Spooky lights, fake cobwebs and localised jack-o'-lanterns are some of the sights greeting the candy-hungry crowds.

Woodgrove estate, which is a stone's throw away from the Singapore American School, is a melting pot of nationalities that has readily embraced the local kampung spirit. 

What stands out though is the fact that the Woodgrove Halloween celebrations also includes a trick-or-treating walkabout – something more commonly seen in Western countries.

Returning after a two-year hiatus, the fact that the estate roads weren't closed for this year edition didn't dampen any of the 3,000 over trick or treaters' spirits and sweet tooths.

Families of trick or treaters, all decked out in their Halloween finest, streamed from house to house with several homeowners going all out by setting up live candy and drinks stations. 

Decked out in a tiger onesie outfit, 50-year-old Australian expat Johann - who was bringing his sons trick or treating - hailed the "crazy scary" costumes on display. One of his sons, 10-year-old Jason said that he liked the friendly atmosphere and even made new friends while collecting Halloween candy.

This year, there was even a local touch to the Halloween proceedings with a traditional ice-cream man in attendance.

The local theme was also highlighted at the first-ever Hello-Win Arts Festival – a celebration of East meets West art works and performances organised by the Contemporary Arts Research Association.

Held at the I-Ching with Arts Gallery within the Woodgrove estate, the festival – which hoped to inject Eastern elements into what is a Western traditional festival – featured artwork by local artists, Yuxu Taoist Association and Nanyang Girls' High School.

One of the featured artists, and Hello-Win Arts Festival's Artistic Director, Grand Master Tan Khoon Yong, 68, hoped that his paintings can help foster a better understanding between Eastern and Western culture.

"Moving forward, I don't see a distinction between East or West especially in a Singaporean context. As a Singaporean, I feel we must act to bridge the gap between East and West."

On a more personal note though, the renowned local fengshui master, who moved in the Woodgrove estate six months ago, said that the communal Halloween celebrations has also helped him get to know his neighbours better. 

ALSO READ: Beware of clowns and ghouls: Sembawang estate welcomes Halloween with sinister outdoor decor

And perhaps, that community or kampung spirit is the best candy that any Woodgrove residents can get this Halloween.

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