Another public holiday is on the horizon, and while we all appreciate the break from work and maybe the chance to plan a brunch with family or friends, it’s also rewarding to discover more about the particular cultural festival being celebrated. Deepavali falls on 6 November this year, and here we run our eye over some of its key aspects and events.
What is Deepavali?
Celebrated by Hindus all over the world, it is a religious festival and major event in the Hindu calendar. Also known as Diwali, it marks the triumph of good over evil and, symbolically, light over darkness.
When is it celebrated and for how long?
The Hindu lunar calendar determined the date on which Deepavali falls. It typically occurs sometime in the months of October and November. The celebrations last about five days.
Why is it celebrated?
There are various legends surrounding this vibrant festival. One of the most popular ones is the story of the return of Lord Rama and his wife to their North Indian Kingdom after a 14-year exile. The people joyously welcomed him with thousands of lamps.
How is it celebrated?
Similar to how lamps were lit for Lord Rama’s return, diyas (oil lamps made of clay) are placed around homes during the festivities. Devotees also clean their homes to prepare for the occasion. Doorways and entrances are often decorated with rangoli – a traditional form of floor art which consists of beautiful patterns usually made out of flour, sand, flower petals or rice. These special decorations are to welcome Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, into the home.
The day begins early on Deepavali with rituals such as oil baths, putting on new clothes, heading to the temple to pray and visiting homes of friends and relatives for feasting. You can expect a mix of sweet and savoury eats and delicacies. They include mithai (South Asian sweets) such as gulab jamun and puran poli, a sweet Indian flatbread.
Where can I take part in the celebrations in Singapore?
The annual Deepavali light-up is on at Serangoon Road and Race Course Road in Little India from now until 25 November. Stroll along the streets and you’ll see all kinds of colourful arches, bright lights and other adornments.
Deepavali Festival Village
You’ll find plenty of festive atmosphere at the Deepavali Festival Village at Campbell Lane and Hastings Road in Little India. Open daily from 10am to 10pm, this bustling bazaar has many stalls to explore – offering everything from traditional wear, accessories, decorations, spices, festive treats and delicacies, to live music and henna tattoo art. It’s open until 6 November. While you’re there, you might want to pop by the Mustafa Centre for some more shopping!
Among the festival’s most spectacular events are Theemithi (a fire-walking ceremony) at Sri Mariamman Temple (28 October, 6.30pm) and the Silver Chariot procession (29 October, 8.30pm), from Sri Mariamman Temple (South Bridge Road) to Little India.
Little India Heritage Playstreet
On 20 October and 17 November (4pm to 6pm), Campbell Street in Little India will be transformed into a hub of fun activities for the whole family. You’ll be able to try your hand at traditional Indian games such as goli (a variation of marbles).
The Silk Roots
Enjoy traditional tunes by The Silk Roots at the Indian Heritage Centre (17 November, 7pm). The Singaporean group includes Ragha on Indian classical flute and Shivanesh playing Indian percussion.
The Spirit of the Season, Naran
Watch the story of Deepavali come alive on stage at Clive Street on 20 October (7pm). Set up your picnic mats and gather around the campfire at this storytelling session that’s great for all ages. Register for free now.
Movie night: Razzamatazz
Enjoy an outdoor movie screening at the Indian Heritage Centre on 10 November (7.30pm to 10pm). Razzamatazz features the work of local director S S Vikneshwaran Subramaniam. Sign up for a spot now.
Looking for more things to do in Singapore?
35 cool and fun things to do in Singapore today or this weekend
20 top cultural attractions in Singapore