Feasts, festive events, dazzling lights and historic temples. It’s Deepavali in Singapore…
In case you haven’t noticed the lights along Serangoon Road, it’s Deepavali in Singapore! The Festival of Lights falls on the 15th day of Kartika, which is the holiest month in the Hindu calendar. This year, it’s celebrated on 14 November 2020. Despite some changes due to Covid-19, you can still expect a gorgeous light-up, candles being lit, beautiful rangoli decorations to bring good luck, mouth-watering Indian cuisine and virtual events. Little India is the epicentre of the celebrations, of course. Here’s how to get into the spirit of Deepavali and rediscover vibrant Indian culture in this city…
Deepavali in Singapore: Things to do
Enjoy colourful lights like you’re a kid again
Every year, Little India turns it on for Deepavali with its eye-popping light-up. Just when you think the street lights can’t get any more dazzling, out come massive peacocks, lotus flowers, oil lamps and Mahalakshmi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity in Hinduism, guarding Serangoon Road. The lights will switch on from 7pm till midnight until 6 December 2020. You seriously can’t miss it.
Find Little India’s colourful bazaar and night market online
Sorry, no night market heaving with glittering decorations, peacock feathers, festive clothing, flower garlands and stacks of treats this year. Offline events are taking a step back so you’ll see a virtual edition of the Deepavali Festival Village. That’s right, visit its official page for exciting daily F&B and shopping promos, workshops, events, OOTD ideas and Deepavali tidbits. Here are some snippets from last year’s markets if you’re missing them a wee bit…
Indulge in a festive meal at top Indian restaurants
Fire up your tastebuds at curry houses, North Indian spots and South Indian restaurants doling out everything from mountains of biryani to traditional plates to modern innovations. If you’ve got a sweet tooth, this is your chance to indulge! Check out our guide to iconic Indian sweets you can grab from Little India if you’re hooked. Alternatively, swirl a cocktail at one of these Indian-inspired bars.
Visit Singapore’s most beautiful Hindu temples
The jewel of Little India’s crown is the awe-inspiring Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple on Serangoon Road. It’s dedicated to Kali, the Hindu Goddess of power, and you can spend all day taking in the intricate details. This temple was established in 1855, making it one of the oldest religious sites in Singapore.
When in Chinatown, stop by Singapore’s biggest and oldest temple, Sri Mariamman on South Bridge Road. It’s famous for breathtaking painted ceilings and hosting the Fire Walking Ceremony (Theemithi) the week before Deepavali. In the East? Head to Sri Senpaga Vinayagar Temple on Ceylon Road. With its five-tiered, 68 feet-high golden tower, it’s one of Katong’s gems. It’s over 120 years old and has a unique musical pillar that produces different notes when tapped!
Go on a walking tour of Little India
Little India is just as colourful during the daytime (and on any day of the year). Sure, everyone knows about Tekka Market and Banana Leaf Apolo, and it’s a rite of passage to get lost in Mustafa at least once in your lifetime. But if you want inside stories on the heritage ‘hood and tips on where to pick up masala dabba or copper kitchenware for a steal, our hot tip is to join a walking tour. You’ll discover everything from the best eyebrow threading spots to Tekka’s finest biryani stalls.
Deepavali in Singapore: Events to check out
Trishaw Trails with Indian Heritage Centre
There’s a surge in the interest of tours right now, thanks to SingapoRediscovers Vouchers and irresistible deals. Keen to explore? The Indian Heritage Centre is offering 15-minute trishaw tours around vibrant Little India. After that, our Little India guide will come in handy if you wish to continue exploring.
Trishaw Trails, every Friday, $10, book online, check the Facebook page for updates
Deepavali Bazaar by The Curve Cult
26 October – 10 November
One of our favourite plus size labels, The Curve Cult is also hosting a Deepavali pop-up. Held both online and offline at its Far East Plaza outlet, the bazaar puts the spotlight on eight women-owned local businesses. Get all your festive essentials at one location. Think Indian munchies by The Murukku Maamis, party grub from Dips and Everything, and thirst-quenching chai from The Chai Baba. Plus, natural skincare from Ammas Secret, eye-catching jewellery and accessories from Keshy Design, and The Curve Cult’s new festival collection.
Deepavali Bazaar, online, 26 Oct – 10 Nov; pop-up at The Curve Cult outlet, 6 – 8 Nov, 12pm-8pm; #05-126, Far East Plaza, 14 Scotts Road, Singapore 228213
15 October – 15 November
Drop by the fab D’Bazaar pop-up for a one-stop spot to get all your Deepavali essentials from local Indian brands. There are show-stopping accessories from For Desi By Desi, The Pattu Kadai’s sarees, delish tarts and brownies from Whisk Eat and skincare brands from Makeup Budget SG. Henna art is available from 1 November.
D’ Bazaar, 12pm-9pm, by appointment only due to Covid-19 restrictions, 25 Upper Dickson Road, Singapore 207484
Deepavali buffet at Shangri-La Hotel Singapore
12 – 15 November
A scrumptious Indian feast awaits at The Line’s a la carte buffet. The expanded dish selection includes crab kofta with moilee (tangy coconut sauce from Kerala), bharwan baingan with salan (stuffed baby eggplant with coconut and peanut sauce), tandoori malai king prawns and masala chai creme brulee.
The Line at Shangri-La Hotel Singapore, from $58++ per adult, 50% off for children aged 6 – 11, available during lunch and dinner, 22 Orange Grove Road, Singapore 258350
The Esplanade brings this year’s Indian Festival of Arts to your screen with digital programmes, Hindustani music performances, podcast convos and – wait for it – live performances with safety measures in place. Festival highlights include Amara – Dancing Stories of Banteay Srei, a dance production about ancient Hindu epics; Pathey Nimidam, a series of 10-minute plays dealing with different subject matters; and Tholu Bommalatta, a Telugu shadow puppetry theatre act.
Kalaa Utsavam, 20-29 Nov, various timings, online and at Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay, 1 Esplanade Drive, Singapore 038981
Events at National Museum of Singapore
Go virtual with the National Museum’s first digital Deepavali experience. From a music presentation featuring classical Indian instruments to a convo between Ayurvedic and TCM practitioners about the use of spices in dishes to a live rangoli creation, it’s going to be an eventful one.
National Museum of Singapore, various timings, visit the Facebook page for live events
The Diwali Festive Edition
24 October – 13 November
Get your Deepavali outfits at cracker deals from Lookstudio’s Diwali festival pop-up. With makeup from Roxxmetics, shawls from Simply Shawls and tarts from Velvet Dough, it’ll be tough not to leave empty-handed.
The Diwali Festive Edition, 11am-9pm, #06-22, Peace Centre, 1 Sophia Road, Singapore 228149
More events by the Indian Heritage Centre
Until 14 November
The Indian Heritage Centre is offering a bunch of offline and online activities to get you in the festive mood. Indian sub-communities in Singapore will share engaging conversations and stories about Deepavali, as well as what the festival’s customs and traditions mean to them. This includes Deepavali throwbacks from SPH archives, craft workshops, videos on Deepavali fashion over the years, a guide to Tekka Centre, iconic Indian dishes and more.
Deepavali events by the Indian Heritage Centre, online
Scrumptious Deepavali weekend specials at Gabbar
Until 15 November
Diet can wait, ‘cos the mod-Indian bistro and bar is serving up some serious Indian eats this Deepavali. Feast on shikampuri lamb chops, marinated with hung curd and spices; Indian fusion dish dal burrata and the classic dalcha chicken. The paneer pasanda (a creamy gravy with cottage cheese and dry fruits) and Amritsari makai palak (Amritsari corn tossed in a spinach gravy) are great for veg lovers.
Gabbar, #01-14, Clarke Quay, 3B River Valley Road, Singapore 179021
Now go forth and celebrate. It’s gonna be lit!