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 celebrations of this cultural festival. Deepavali falls on the 4th of November this year; here, we run our eye over some of its key aspects and events.
What is Deepavali?
Celebrated by Hindus all over the world, it’s 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?
Catch the annual Deepavali light-up in Little India, which kicked off in September. Stroll along the streets and you’ll see all kinds of colourful arches, bright lights and other adornments such as peacocks and lotus flowers.
Deepavali Festival Village
While the annual bazaar in Little India won’t physically be happening this year, you can still shop online! Stalls will showcase their products on the Little India Shopkeepers and Heritage Association’s Facebook page from now until 10 November.
Indian Heritage Centre
The Indian Heritage Centre (IHC) is organising some great events, with both online and on-site activities available. Digital offerings will look at how Deepavali is observed in Singapore, while hands-on activities include trishaw rides around Little India. Find out more on the IHC website.
Mega Deepavali Online Show
Join the festivities from 10am to midday on the morning of Deepavali, 4 November. The show will include songs, dances and skits by local artistes and groups. There’ll also be a video about Little India and a new Deepavali community song. Find out more about the celebrations at deepavalisg.com.
Get into the festive mood this Deepavali with Indian Heritage Centre’s Trishaw Trails on Friday evenings leading up to the big day. Between 6pm and 8pm, go on a fun 15-minute trishaw ride to see all the decorative highlights in Little India in Deepavali mode!
On 31 October, between 8am and 6pm, embark on an exciting gaming tour, where you’ll scour the streets of Little India, solve puzzles, and uncover the Lost Relic! It’s also a chance to get to know more about the history and heritage of the precinct as well as aspects of Indian culture through a fun guided experience.
Find out more about this year’s events at deepavalisg.com/eventlist.
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