Legend – Singapore

“The origin of the Singaporean symbol is when a Malay Prince, named Sand Nila Utama discovered Singapore, it still belonged to Malaysia and was known as Temasek. His boat at brushed against a big rock and began to sink. When he was swimming ashore to Temasek, he saw an animal which looked like a lion but had a tail like a fish. He then decided to call the island Singapura, “Singa” meaning lion in malay, and “pura” meaning city, so Lion city”.

This legend according to my informant is untrue and “was constructed by the government to instill patriotism into the people”. As she grew up in Singapore however, she was told this story by her teachers at a local school and as local schools involved a lot of patriotic traditions, such as flag raising and lowering, singing the national hymn and other related songs, this to her was a part of understanding the identity of Singapore. This is often a major issue as Singapore has been independent for only 40 years. Also as there is a blend of many different races and origins within Singapore, it was difficult to form a national identity in that the country was already so diverse, and not to mention at once belonged to Malaysia. The creature in this legend however, has become the national symbol of Singapore and is known as the Merlion. I find this story personally very important because it provides the country with folklore that every citizen shares in common. I was attracted and discovered this story however in inquiring how the Merlion came about and why it is the country’s national symbol