Deepavali is a very cool time in Singapore. The colours of the Festival of Lights are vibrant, and the Indian food delicious. But some of us don’t really know how to celebrate the victory of good over evil, and can feel a bit awkward about jumping in. Never fear: we have the answer.
We recently profiled STRING Travel, a creative, new itinerary-sharing app that allows you to upload your own experiences, creating a travel diary of sorts, or build a trip itinerary using other people’s experiences. It’s a far easier way to share travel info than a Google spreadsheet.
Aside from travels to foreign countries, STRING can also help you figure out how to make the most of things right here in Singapore. Take Deepavali, for example. One user of the app, Selena Priya, shared her trip around Little India, as it prepares for the upcoming celebration (27 October). I looked at what she recommended and then built my own itinerary, taking what I liked and leaving the rest.
Clothing and accessories
I remember the first time I was invited to a Deepavali celebration. I wanted the right outfit, but where was I supposed to go to get an Indian outfit without blowing the budget and feeling like a big, ol’ expat who doesn’t know what she’s doing? Selena’s itinerary lists three different spots. Haniffa Textiles has been around since 1962, and it carries menswear, saris and children’s clothes, too. She also lists Tekka Centre as a one-stop shop and Malabar Gold & Diamonds for jewellery. The Tekka Centre looks like the place for me, so I add it to my own itinerary.
Grooming and henna
Getting henna done for a Deepavali party is half the fun, but where to go? I once went to an Indian wedding and decided to have henna done before. Not knowing where to go, I chose the wrong place and ended up looking like I’d tried too hard. I was orange. It was kind of awful. So, Selena’s suggestion about where to get henna appeals to me. I add Indigo Palace to my itinerary.
Selena’s itinerary gives me the scoop. A month before Deepavali, there will be a carnival-style market selling all the decorations you need for the holidays. She says the one must-do is to place a colourful patterned artwork known as a kolam outside your door. Thank goodness for STRING – before now, I didn’t even know what a kolam was! (I’d only heard them referred to as rangoli.) Selena also mentions her favourite spot for buying decorations, so I add her suggestion – Jothi Store & Flower Shop – to my itinerary.
Places to visit
Selena lists some must-see places to visit while in Little India, such as the Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple and Mustafa, Little India’s megastore to end all megastores. She also points out a few cool murals: two on Hindoo Road and one at 212 Serangoon Road. I’ve been to the temple and the store, but the murals intrigue me, so on to my itinerary they go. Lucky for me, the app builds me a map so I can easily find them when I’m there.
I’m always confused in Little India. Everything smells great, but some restaurants just aren’t as good as the others. Selena suggests two spots: The Banana Leaf Apollo and Ananda Bhavan Vegetarian. I add them both to my day just to give myself options.
And there it is: the perfect day in Little India in the leadup to Deepavali, all right there on my phone. Easy peasy.
The app is new, so Selena’s itinerary is currently the only one for Little India, but that will change. Eventually, I’ll be able to learn from other people’s itineraries and build a whole new itinerary all on my own. And, if I come across some place special when I’m in the neighbourhood myself, I can add it in, making my own itinerary different and special.
What are your favourite spots in Singapore and around the world? Why not download the app and build an itinerary so others can get to know them?
For more helpful tips, head to our Living in Singapore section.