This painting,“Timithi” (122cm x91cm) done in Jan 2020, is part of my series of scenes from Stories of yesteryear. It depicts the annual fire-walking festival at the Sri Mariamman temple in the heart of Chinatown. When my family was resettled in 1983 from an old shophouse to a HDB flat, we were lucky to be allocated a top floor with a panoramic view. We could see all the activities and evolution of our city. We could see the annual fire-walking festival in all its pomp (with binoculars:-)! To make the painting more flavorful, I turned the clock back to 1909, and imagined how the temple and Chinatown looked like. This 3-tier gopuram was demolished and rebuilt with the present day 5-tier gopuram, with more statues added over the decades. The thatched roof linking the gopuram and the main altar caught fire in 1909 and was replaced with a cemented roof. Although the pomp, splendor and sequence of the ceremony remain largely unchanged over the hundred plus years, the infrastructure has improved, and the audience are no longer allowed to climb onto the roofs and wall parapets as depicted in this painting.

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