Fascinating Singaporean Myths and Legends

Within almost every country and culture one can find examples of myths and legends that have endured over the years. Singapore is no exception. With a rich cultural heritage, a population that is made up of three major ethnic groups (Chinese, Malay, and Indian), and a colonial past, it is little surprise that there are some colourful and intriguing legends, myths, and folkloric tales from Singapore.

Here are some of the most popular Singaporean myths and legends:

Kusu Island’s Turtle

According to local legend, during the 9th lunar month in the Chinese calendar, a huge turtle performed a heroic act. It is said that the turtle turned itself into the island in order to save some sailors from perishing in the rough waters. Grateful to their savior, the sailors returned to the island the next year to give thanks and make offerings. Ever since, the island has been seen as sacred and it is a place of worship, now home to several important shrines and a turtle sanctuary.

Sisters’ Islands: A Tale of Sisterly Devotion

Folklore says that there was a poor widow who had two pretty and lovely daughters, called Minah and Linah. The sisters were very close. So close, in fact, that they promised that they would marry two brothers in order to stay together forever. Many prospective suitors approached the sisters, but none were brothers and so were turned down. Upon their mother’s death, the two sisters went to live with an uncle in a different area. Linah encountered some pirates one day and the chief pirate was struck by her beauty. He followed the terrified Linah home and demanded, by force, that she become his wife. The sisters were inconsolable. A band of pirates arrived early the next day to take Linah away, ripping the sisters apart. Minah, desperate and distraught, swam after the boat but was drowned. Linah, in her grief, dove into the treacherous and stormy waters. It is said that the very next day villagers saw two islands at the place where Linah and Minah had met their end.

Strange Noises from Above

Many Singaporeans who live in Housing Development Board (HDB) apartments report hearing sounds from the property above. The sounds are said to be just like marbles being dropped on the floors. Invariably, upon investigation, there are no marbles … Sometimes there are no children in the unit, or, even more chilling, the property is actually vacant! The sounds remain a mystery.

Sentosa’s Underwater Tunnel

Rumour has it that when Labrador Battery was constructed in 1939, the British also built an access tunnel under the water to Fort Siloso on Sentosa Island. The bunkers of Labrador were later sealed in the 1950s and it is said that the tunnel collapsed. A sealed entrance can be seen at the site, although nobody is really sure today whether it was the door to the tunnel, whether the tunnel really existed, or even if he tunnel did exist, whether the door is in a different spot.