Deepavali falls on Sunday 12 November 2023 (so Monday 13 November is the Deepavali public holiday)! Here’s our kid-friendly guide to Deepavali 2023 and how to celebrate the festival of lights in Singapore
Deepavali 2023 (also called Diwali), is the biggest Indian festival of the year. Deepavali is known as the ‘Festival of Lights’ and people start getting excited for this celebration months ahead of the actual date. So let’s take a look at Deepavali 2023 and how the festival of lights will be celebrated in Singapore from fun workshops and Deepavali events to festivities at home – from what Indian fashion to buy, to everything you need to know about decorating your house, what Indian food to eat and where to see the best Deepavali lights in town!
Read more: Deepavali events in 2023
What is Deepavali/ Diwali?
The colourful festival Deepavali marks the triumph of good over evil and light over darkness. There is an emphasis on worshipping Goddess Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity.
When is Deepavali 2023?
The Hindu lunar calendar determines the date on which Deepavali 2023 falls. It typically occurs sometime in the months of October and November.
Is Deepavali a Public Holiday?
This year Deepavali in Singapore falls on 12 November 2023 which is a Sunday hence Monday 13 November 2023 will be a public holiday. Deepavali celebrations in Singapore last about five days. The Deepavali festival lights in Little India, Singapore are usually on for much longer starting from September 2023. Read more about Deepavali events here.
2023 Deepavali Festival
As with many other festivals around the world, the Deepavali festival features new colourful traditional Indian clothes, gifts of sweets like murkhu, fireworks and plenty of festive cheer. Families come together to worship, greet and eat.
How to celebrate Deepavali 2023 in Singapore
In preparation for Deepavali 2023, homes are decorated and cleaned. Many families will create beautiful ‘Rangoli’ patterns at their home entrance. Rangoli is a colourful art piece created on the floor and made with different coloured fine powders, coloured rice or flowers. Rangoli is a great activity to do with the kids. You could even print out traditional rangoli designs from online to follow along or if you’re looking for a less messy option, have the little ones stick colourful rice directly onto rangoli pattern print outs.
‘Diyas’ or earthen lamps are the most iconic decorative item for Deepavali as it is the festival of lights. ‘Deep’ means light and during the festival period diyas are lit up and placed all around and outside the home. Nowadays many families prefer to use votives and tea lights for convenience and safety. During Deepavali 2023 it is fun to buy plain clay diyas and paint them—another craft idea for the kids! Rangoli supplies and diyas can be found in Little India arcade as well as on Campbell Lane.
Traditionally diyas are filled with ghee and a handmade cotton wick is lit …but this can get tricky with the little ones so you might want to stick to simple (even electric) tea lights from Ikea, which you can just place into the diya!
Colourful light strings are also put up around and inside the home…so go ahead and light up your house during the Deepavali festival and fill your home with a bright and warm festive glow.
Deepavali in Singapore
Deepavali is an important time for Indian families to spring clean their homes, tidy up and decorate. As little kids, our mum always told us that if our house was clean and beautiful then we could be sure that Goddess Lakshmi would come and pay our home a visit on Deepavali night to bless us!
Down in Little India, Jothi Store and Flower Shop has beautiful flower garlands to decorate your home or you could just head to your local florist and pick up some colourful yellow, orange and red flowers (festive Deepavali colours). While decorating, the emphasis is always placed on the entrance of the home to create a welcoming aura for family members and friends visiting and of course to draw in the Goddess.
New Indian clothes during Deepavali Festival
A favourite Deepavali tradition is buying and wearing new and colourful clothes. Read our guide on where to get Indian clothing here or head over to the shops at Tekka Centre or Fab India (at Vivo City) to buy some traditional Indian clothes – the more colourful the better!
Boys typically wear a ‘Kurta pyjama’ which is a knee length tunic with drawstring pants. Girls can wear the same or a ‘ghagra choli’ a long flowy skirt with a short blouse. For the girls (and yourself mama), it’s also fun to buy some colourful bangles from Little India Arcade or Mustafa.
Do note that Tekka Market will be closed for repair and renovation works and will be reopening in two stages: the second level, which comprises retail shops, will reopen on 31 August 2023 (well in time for Deepavali and Indian clothes shopping) while the first level, which houses food stalls and a wet market, will reopen later on 30 September 2023.
Deepavali 2023: Fireworks & Sparklers
On the day of Deepavali, 12 November 2023 rituals such as oil baths take place. Then families put on new clothes and head to the temple to pray. Usually they visit the homes of friends and relatives for feasting.
A big part of 2023 Deepavali celebrations is usually fireworks but with the eco-movement and emphasis to reduce noise and air pollution, this has been toned down somewhat. However children are still encouraged to light a few sparklers and have a little fun. Boxes of sparklers can be purchased at Campbell Street. Keep a close eye on this activity for safety!
Deepavali Sweets: Mithai
Of course the best part of the Deepavali festival is enjoying the delicious Indian food – whether it is out in an Indian restaurant or more often than not, at home with friends cooking together in the kitchen! Traditional Deepavali fare includes lots of sweets (known as ‘mithai’), dried fruit, savoury fried snacks and rich main courses that are typically vegetarian. This is the time of year when home cooks pull out all the stops and use decadent ingredients like saffron, ghee, edible silver foil, dried fruits and full fat dairy products like cream and paneer (Indian cheese which you can buy fresh or frozen at Mustafa). Lots of wonderful traditional Indian sweets and snacks can be found at Mughal sweets in Little India as well as at Kailash Parbat restaurant. Look out for Kaju Katli (features cashews). Jalebi, Gulab Jamun and Milk Barfi.
If you’re looking to do some Indian cooking of your own in honour of Deepavali my Spicebox Kits are extremely handy featuring my cookbook ‘Cooking with Indian Spicebox’ and I would recommend looking at recipes such as Pakoras, Aloo tikki, Palak Paneer, Chana Masala and Heavenly Halva (a traditional Indian sweet made for prayers and offered to the Gods and Goddesses). A recipe for Heavenly Halwa is here. Important mama tip: Simply eliminate the red chilli powder/green chilli from any of the recipes to make your meal kid-friendly.
Deepavali shopping for gifts: Little India’s festive bazaar
With Deepavali bazaar stalls selling everything from decorative and festive items, to Deepavali gifts and sweets the annual festival bazaar is usually a highlight of Deepavali. In 2021 the traditional Deepavali bazaar shifted online – we are still waiting to hear on details of the 2022 Deepavali bazaar and where it will take place.
Read more: 43 Top Indian Restaurants in Singapore
Deepavali Festival Lights in Little India
A trip to Little India with the kids post sunset (avoid Sundays!) to enjoy the gorgeous Deepavali lights is definitely in order plus some shopping (of sweets, diyas, decorations, sparklers, rangoli) is an excellent way to get into the festive mood.
Come Sunday 12 November 2023, the day of Deepavali itself, send out your Deepavali greetings, put on some Bollywood music, decorate your home with the kids, invite some friends over for dinner and cook up a family-friendly Indian feast! In the evening, light the diyas (tea lights), put on your festive attire and enjoy the wonderful festival Deepavali to celebrate the victory of light over darkness and good over evil.
Happy Deepavali 2023 everyone!