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 being celebrated. Deepavali falls on 14 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?
Catch the annual Deepavali light-up in Little India from now until 6 December. Stroll along the streets and you’ll see all kinds of colourful arches, bright lights and other adornments such as peacocks and lotus flowers. This year’s theme is Goddess Mahalakshmi, the goddess of wealth in Hindu mythology. Head to the main arch at Serangoon Road and you’ll spot her sitting between the two elephants!
While you’re in the area, drop by POLI at Hindoo Road to view a stunning Rangoli art installation. Rangoli is traditionally created from coloured rice powder or grains but has evolved to include other materials such as sand, flowers and paper. This year’s installation is coordinated by Rangoli artist Vijaya Mohan who has a Guinness World Record for the largest Rangoli in the world. The display will be up for viewing from 31 October to 6 December.
Deepavali Festival Village
The annual bazaar in Little India won’t be happening this year but 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 “Once Upon a Deepavali – Our Shared Stories” from now until 14 November. There’ll be both online and on-site activities: digital offerings will look at how Deepavali is observed in Singapore, while on-site activities include trishaw rides around Little India. Find out more on the IHC website.
Mega Deepavali Online Show
In the morning of Deepavali (10am to 12pm), join the festivities online! During the show, there’ll be songs, dances and skits by local artistes and groups. There’ll also be a video about Little India and a new Deepavali community song. Tune in on LiSHA’s digital platforms.
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