Opinion: Ramadan bazaars in S’pore are losing their soul & social media is partly to blame
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Opinion: Ramadan bazaars in S’pore are losing their soul & social media is partly to blame

What took place to Ramadan bazaars in Singapore?

This month, a bazaar vendor and a TikTok reviewer bought into a spat so undesirable that lawyers have gotten associated.

Listed here&#8217s the gist of the tale: The reviewer experienced manufactured &#8220brutal&#8221, less than ideal remarks about the stall&#8217s offerings, and the vendor got genuinely mad.

This ongoing fiasco has me scratching my head. Given that when did Ramadan bazaars grow to be a aspect of the social media circus?

Kampong Gelam Bazaar vendor serves stop &#038 desist letter to TikToker who slammed stall with ‘brutally honest’ assessments

The bazaars of my childhood were being frequented by families shopping for Hari Raya garments when soaking in the healthful, festive vibes.

Now, we see booth immediately after booth of IG-worthy foods &#8212 and while it&#8217s encouraging to have additional entrepreneurs in the community, the bazaars have missing a bit of their magic.

Ramadan bazaars have dropped favour with the group

The smell of hearty, fried foods, a maze of shops providing rugs, baju raya, and even curtains, as significantly as the eye can see.

Growing up in the 2000s, these ended up my recollections of the Geylang bazaar &#8212 the only bazaar I bear in mind frequenting. It was a pasar malam on steroids and it was wonderful.

What&#8217s still left of this sprawling bazaar now is a (somewhat) little square at Geylang Industry and Meals Centre.

My the latest go to to the Geylang bazaar lasted a grand overall of 15 minutes, most of which was expended waiting for my mothers and fathers to complete queuing for foods.

I went property craving bubble tea and sensation severely underwhelmed by my fleeting practical experience there.

Am I the difficulty? As it turns out, many others are experience the exact same disillusionment. In a poll with extra than 600 respondents, 76% stated that they no lengthier go to Ramadan bazaars.

Source: Responses.sg

Other folks on social media noted that they haven&#8217t stepped foot in a bazaar in extra than a decade.

Noriko Farahsyazwani, a restaurant assistant manager, shared that the bazaars now are &#8220far too modernised&#8221 and not as &#8220classic&#8221 as they used to be.

Because of this, her mom, who runs a meals catering business enterprise, made the decision in opposition to staying a vendor at this year&#8217s bazaar.

&#8220We made use of to open up back again then, long ago, in 2003. We experienced queues mainly because people appreciate nasi padang in bazaars,&#8221 recounted the 28-calendar year-outdated F&B specialist. &#8220Currently I question so.&#8221

Ramadan bazaars now a haven of IG-deserving food

Maybe Noriko&#8217s comment isn&#8217t too off the mark. Just take a appear at the offerings at this yr&#8217s Geylang Serai Ramadan Bazaar.

There are fries packed in a big cigarette box (cute), churros that have &#8220localised&#8221 flavours, and even a stall marketing straight-up Philly cheesesteak.

The choices are not the bazaar&#8217s or the distributors&#8217 fault. In a globe the place virality could make or split your company, it will become considerably less about the foods and additional about the strategy of it.

Probably it can make sense then that most of the stalls getting featured on-line are individuals with exclusive concepts.

Regretably for the customer, one of a kind food items also usually means a bigger selling price level.

&#8220My pani puri (an Indian avenue foods) was S$12 for 10 balls,&#8221 reported Ain Zainal, a 30-calendar year-old senior creative at an F&B firm.

She experienced purchased the dish at this year&#8217s Geylang bazaar, wherever she usually uncovered the food stuff selections and space to be lacking.

&#8220I felt like I was in a regular weekend pasar malam as as opposed to a festive bazaar.&#8221

Amid &#8220novelty foods things that price tag a bomb&#8221, Ain also noticed few stalls advertising satayikan bakar, or even kueh.

Go across the Causeway and you&#8217ll very easily uncover these standard Malay avenue food choices at Malaysia&#8217s festive bazaars.

In Singapore, stylish food items &#8212 which now occurs to be food items from outside the Malay culture &#8212 dominates amid soaring rental fees for suppliers.

Superior rentals place strain on distributors to make dollars

This calendar year, the rents for the Geylang Serai Ramadan bazaar are likely for as substantial as S$15,000, claimed the Straits Times (ST).

Foundation rentals for the 2023 bazaar ranged among S$2,000 and S$19,000. Additionally, distributors who preferred to offer Ramly burgers had to fork out a S$4,000 high quality.

With these superior charges, companies encounter the pressure of having to innovate and come up with offerings that are exclusive &#8212 not just delicious.

It&#8217s no surprise that mom-and-pop shops offering &#8220fundamental&#8221 pasar malam fares have been pushed out by more recent, sexier foodstuff principles.

The Ramadan bazaar has grow to be a victim of the social media age. Distributors have to have to be stylish to survive.

What had been Ramadan bazaars like in the earlier?

In the very good ol&#8217 times, the a single or two bazaars were being gathering details for the Malay neighborhood because they have been a just one-halt store for every thing Raya-associated.

My earliest memory of the bazaar was shopping for a matching established of baju kurung (common Malay attire) with my relatives.

I expended several hours browsing rows on rows of stalls. But now, I invest minutes scrolling by means of on line outlets.

For 53-calendar year-old housewife Aminah Rahman, her reminiscences of the Geylang Serai bazaar in 1980s are vibrant kinds.

Supply: Ross Bridal on Facebook

&#8220Just going for walks as a result of the bazaar with out purchasing everything was pure satisfaction and pleasure,&#8221 she reported, noting the bazaar&#8217s lively environment again then.

&#8220We even had individuals reciting pantun (Malay poems) on the loudspeaker when advertising bunga kembang malam (flower arrangements for the home).&#8221

Aminah cheekily recalled occasions when the sellers disturbed the younger women passing by, but it was all in great exciting.

All those who frequented the Geylang bazaar from 1998 to about 2019 could don’t forget Mohamad Arshad Mohd Yaqoob, more popularly known as Raja Bunga &#8212 an icon of the bazaar.

He would sit atop his chair, advertising his flowers making use of a megaphone or a microphone.

Source: Berita Harian Singapura on Facebook

Mr Mohamad Arshad handed absent in 2020, having with him the special talent of bringing everyday living to the bazaar.

Too quite a few bazaars, all promoting equivalent things

Aside from bouquets, the bazaar suppliers of the 1980s offered Hari Raya necessities these kinds of as baju raya, dwelling decorations, songkok (standard headgear), and sandals.

As it turns out, there wasn&#8217t significantly meals at all, only &#8220standard Raya kueh&#8221 such as pineapple tarts and makmur (a pastry crammed with a sweet peanut filling), pointed out Aminah.

Someplace together the way, Ramadan bazaars became recognized for their meals and are no for a longer period the location for general searching.

It absolutely doesn&#8217t enable that there are so several bazaars now that we have to have lists of all of them to even keep up.

There are at least 10 Ramadan bazaars and pasar malams this calendar year &#8212 including the Geylang Serai and Kampong Gelam bazaars.

And all over the place, I be expecting the offerings to be the exact same. Ridiculously substantial 3-litre drinks (because apparently, that&#8217s trending ideal now), S$10 fries, and other Western snacks of the type.

What&#8217s the point of even heading down?

Convey back again the bazaars of my childhood, I&#8217m unwell of &#8220fashionable&#8221 meals

My inner thoughts about the Ramadan bazaar may possibly just be a me challenge, as another person who gets random bouts of nostalgia and longing for how factors were being.

But in a life exactly where the only frequent is transform, there&#8217s comfort in factors that stand steadfast versus time.

I&#8217m not saying that all bazaars have to provide nostalgic, area foods &#8212 that in itself would be repetitive, monotonous, and also, unprofitable.

But would it damage to have 1 bazaar modelled following the types of the previous?

Tendencies arrive and go, but that doesn&#8217t necessarily mean these that did disappear permanently. Glimpse at Y2K style &#8212 lower-rise jeans and baggy cargo trousers from that era are again again immediately after decades of higher-waisted bottoms.

Potentially in the name of traits, it could be in organizations&#8217 pursuits to attractiveness to nostalgia, to deliver back again what&#8217s now really hard to locate.

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Highlighted impression adapted from Muhammad Rusydi Bin Rasip on Fb and Gemilang Kampong Glam for illustration applications only.

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