Also known as the Festival of Lights, Deepavali (or Diwali) is a celebration of the triumph of good over evil, and light over darkness. Every year, millions of Hindus around the world mark the festivities by lighting diyas (clay lamps) around their homes, decorating their doorways with rangoli (a traditional intricate floor art), visiting the temple, performing poojas (prayers) and of course, digging into a sumptuous feast with friends and family.
Even if you’re not celebrating, there are still plenty of ways to get in on the festivities. In Singapore, where Deepavali is a gazetted national holiday, places like Little India are especially worth a visit during this time, thanks to the dazzling light displays that illuminate the streets. While this year’s festivities are no doubt a little more muted, we’ve listed out top ways you can celebrate Deepavali this weekend. Read on to find out.
1. Marvel at Little India’s Deepavali Light-Up
Each year, Little India becomes aglow during this time of the year, thanks to the annual Deepavali light-up. This brilliant display of lights draws locals and tourists alike, and this year’s extravaganza looks set to impress. Feast your eyes on the colourful arches, illuminated peacocks, elephants and lotus flowers, and more. The piece de resistance, no doubt, is the Goddess Mahalakshmi, the Hindu goddess of wealth, who sits perched on a lotus flower right above the main arch in Serangoon Road.
Catch the Little India Deepavali light-up from now until 6 December.
2. Check out an art installation by a renowned rangoli artist
While you’re in Little India, swing by POLI at Hindoo Road to see a stunning Rangoli art installation. Acclaimed rangoli artist Vijaya Mohan, who currently holds a Guiness World Record for the world’s largest rangoli, has an exhibition here happening from now till 6 December 2020. Check out the beautiful selection of rangoli designs made by members of various voluntary welfare organisations. While traditional rangoli is typically created from coloured rice powder or rice grains, you’ll find that modern versions – like Mohan’s – have evolved to use flowers, paper quilling and even glass marbles.
3. Shop Little India’s famous festive bazaar online
With bazaar stalls plying everything from gorgeous decorative and festive items, ethnic dresses and traditional desserts to henna booths and more, the annual festival bazaar – which accompanies the light-up each year – is usually a must-see during Deepavali. Due to the current group restrictions in place, this year’s bazaar has now shifted online. To shop and browse the wares, albeit virtually, visit the Deepavali Festival Village’s official page to discover dining deals and shopping promos, festive workshops, events, DIY henna designs and more.
4. Tuck into special renditions of Deepavali dishes
What’s Deepavali without all the hearty feasting? Foodies should make their way to Little India this weekend to sample the slew of mouth-watering traditional and festive dishes courtesy of the cultural precinct’s wide range of eateries. As part of the Deepavali Gastronomy initiative, participating restaurants will create their own unique take on a traditional or specialty dish for diners to enjoy. Standouts include a succulent Kerala duck roast by Spice Junction; a delicious fusion-style turkey briyani by Delhi Restaurant, and a flavourful banana-leaf wrapped cod fish Pollichathu by Gayatri Restaurantt.
The Deepavali Gastronomy is happening from now till 22 November 2020. List of participating restaurants here.
5. Celebrate Deepavali from home with National Museum Singapore
Staying home this Deepavali weekend? Tune into the National Museum Singapore’s first ever digital Deepavali experience, if you are. Highlights from the line-up include a special classical music performance by brother duo Govin and Krsna Tan, a storytelling session with Kamini Ramachandran, an online rangoli workshop, as well as a fascinating dialogue between an Ayurvedic and Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner about the use of spices in food. It’s an educational – and social distancing-friendly – way to appreciate the festivities. Catch these programmes on the museum’s official YouTube channel.
6. Enjoy a feast fit for kings
For one day only (14 November), Punjab Grill at Marina Bay Sands is presenting two “Deepawali Special” set menus for vegetarians and non-vegetarians. Both will get to enjoy an amuse-bouche before being served a series of appetisers, such as the amritsari jackfruit tacos which feature in both menus, comprising jackfruit cooked on the Tava with Indian spices and served in crunchy taco shells. Non vegetarians will get to tuck into a sumptuous baked fish tikka that is marinated in Southern spices, cooked in a clay oven with fish skin crackle powder, and served with coconut snow foam, while vegetarians will enjoy the palak and raw banana tikki, a trio of pan-grilled croquettes featuring spinach puree and mashed banana marinated in Indian herbs and spices. This will be followed by main courses of chicken tikka masala roulade (non-vegetarian), and paneer tikka masala roulade (vegetarian). A selection of breads, vegetables and other sides will accompany the feast, before you end off with a delicious dessert platter.
Please check the establishments’ respective websites for opening hours before visiting, and remember to adhere to safe-distancing measures while out and about.