Deepavali (also known as Diwali) is the most important Hindu festival of the year. Affectionately known as the Festival of Lights, Deepavali celebrations typically last for five days, with the peak holiday this year falling on Saturday 2 November 2013. A time of joyous celebration (and plenty of sweets!) here’s our guide to this celebrating this special Hindu holiday with the family.
What to expect during Deepavali
Deepavali marks the beginning of the Hindu New Year and is one of the most important celebrations in India and other parts of Asia.
In preparation for Deepavali most families start by spring-cleaning their homes to welcome Lakshmi, the Goddess of Wealth. Lakshmi visits every home on Deepavali Day, blessing each house with gifts of health, wealth and happiness for the year ahead.
For the five days of the festival, homes are lit up with diyas (earthen lamps) and plenty of Indian sweets are kept in the house, as families never know when their divine visitor will arrive! Each family has their own traditions when it comes to celebrating Deepavali, but the common theme during the festival is to spend time with family and loved ones, rejoicing with lots of good food, presents and the celebration of good over evil. Tradition says that whatever families are doing on the first day of the New Year is an indication of how they’ll spend the next 12 months (so plan wisely mama!).
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What to Eat
Food and Indian festivals go hand-in-hand… if food isn’t the first thing that springs to mind when Deepavali is mentioned, it must surely be the second! Start prepping for the festivities by ordering some special homemade sweets and savouries.
If you’re after some luxurious mithai then you’ll want to order your Deepavali sweets from Rang Mahal. These hand crafted sweets are presented in beautiful packaging that is lovely enough to keep (or to give away, if you really must!).
Providing a range of specially prepared (and thoughtfully presented) boxes of Deepavali mithai and Indian sweet meats, The Song of India are offering a twist on the traditional — with delights such as Chocolicious Alphonso Mango Sensation available for those with a super sweet tooth.
Swing past Tanglin Mall to pick up your boxes of Indian sweets from Yantra and choose from their selection of freshly made mithai. Custom designed take-home boxes are usually ready within 48 hours after placing your order.
Finally, if you prefer to enjoy a Deepavali meal out of the home, then you can look to popular Indian restaurants like Banana Leaf Apolo, Muthu’s Curry, Samy’s Curry, Shahi Maharani, and the super popular (and fancy!) The Song of India.
Image sourced via wikimedia commons
Where to Pray
Uniting the family during prayers is a crucial aspect of the Deepavali celebrations. Prayers take place at home or in the workplace, and no Deepavali is complete without a visit to the temple. In Singapore we are lucky to have a total of 18 Hindu temples dotted across the city, so swing by Sri Mariamman Temple (Singapore’s oldest Hindu temple) or Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple (the largest temple in Singapore) for Deepavali prayers.
Sri Mariamman Temple, 244 South Bridge Road, Singapore 058793, (+65) 6223 4064.
Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple, 397 Serangoon Road, Singapore 218123, (+65) 6298 5771.
Where to celebrate
Little India is the heart and soul of Deepavali celebrations in Singapore, and is well worth a visit with the little ones. Gaze at the lights, shop at the bazaars, look at the colourful decorations in the stores, shop for traditional sweets and clothing, and let the kiddos get their very own henna tattoos — it’s a joyous celebration for the whole family!
Deepavali Street Light Up
Until 17 November 2013 the streets of Little India are transformed into a wonderland of colourful lights and decorations. Running the entire length of Serangoon Road from the junction of Sophia Road all the way to Lavendar Street, and part of Racecourse Road, head here in the evenings to see the area in all its coloured glory.
Deepavali Light Up Tour
Let the littlies stay up late and take them for a bus tour of Little India instead! With tours leaving at 7:30pm, 8pm, 8:30pm and 9pm, you’ll get to see the street light up in a new way – on wheels! It’s a fab way to enjoy the district without having to push through the crowds. Tours leave from Little India Arcade on 2 and 11 November 2013.
Deepavali Heritage and Crafts Exhibition
Until the 1st of November, watch skilled craftsman demonstrate traditional stone carving and pottery making on Campbell Lane. Join one of their workshops and learn more about Indian culture at the same time! Afterwards head to Hastings Road to see the “Our Forefathers and their Trades in Singapore” exhibition and learn more about the origins and traditions of Indian Culture (what a way to get the kiddos cultured mama!).
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Deepavali Festival Village
With over 55 stalls offering a multitude of goodies, take a walk through the Festival Village and shop for popular Indian sweets, traditional clothing, colourful festive items, jewellery, costumes, sculptures, decorations, and arts and crafts (pretty much everything you could want!) at this month long bazaar. Open daily from 10am (and located along Campbell Lane and Hastings Road), it’s a nice idea to visit this buzzing market in the late afternoon, so you can watch the area slowly light up as the daylight hours fade away (and it won’t be as hot as you shuffle through the market with the kids!).
Deepavali Countdown Concert
If you’re brave enough to face the jovial crowds (maybe just the big kids mama?) then this open air concert on 1 November 2013 is bound to be a musical extravaganza! Held on Racecourse Road, this massive concert features local and foreign celebrities and ends at midnight with a fireworks display, signifying the welcoming of Deepavali into Singapore.
Gardens by the Bay
Fancy something a little different? It might not be Little India, but Gardens by the Bay are celebrating the festival in their own way with the Deepavali Floral Display at the Flower Dome (until 10 November 2013) and their interactive family-friendly workshops on November 2nd and 3rd. From 2-4pm, the workshop teaches little ones about the significance of Deepavali before letting the kids decorate their own special diyas (little lamps). Admission to the workshop is free (normal admission charges to the Flower Dome still apply).
Now you’re all ready to celebrate the Festival of Lights with the family in Singapore! Happy Deepavali mama (or as some prefer to say… happy eating!).