Feasts, dazzling lights and one bustling market. 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 6 November 2018. Expect fireworks, candles being lit, the appearance of beautiful rangoli decorations to bring good luck, and one busy (but must-see) night market. 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 during this special time of the year…
Enjoy colourful lights like you’re a kid again
Every year, Little India turns it on for Deepavali with one eye-popping light. Just when you think the street light-up can’t get any more dazzling, out come peacocks guarding Serangoon Road (pictured top). The lights will switch on from 7pm till midnight until 25 November. You seriously can’t miss it.
Indulge in a festive meal at Singapore’s best Indian restaurant
If you haven’t been to the Michelin-starred The Song of India, drop everything and indulge in a special Deepavali feast. This festive degustation menu is one amazing and unique introduction to Chef Manjunath Mural’s fine dining approach to Indian cuisine. Make your way to this gorgeous black-and-white bungalow for one helluva festive feast: we’re talking four courses meal including an ‘art palette’ with seven different tastings.
Chef Mural outdoes himself with a special native menu that brings dishes from India’s many regions to your table in Singapore. Plus, it’s all cooked in clay pots over outdoor wood-fire burning stoves for those super authentic countryside flavours. We’re still drooling over mildly tangy amti dhal and that Bihari chicken curry that’s slow-cooked, spiced to perfection and paired with deep fried puris.
We’re extra pleased to see our favourites from last year make an appearance – sambal barramundi tikka and chargrilled laksa chicken kebab that weave local flavours with classic Indian techniques. Savour that aam ka panna, a flavoured raw mango drink and an excellent palate cleanser, before diving into the traditional Indian desserts. We still can’t pick a favourite between the Bengali misti doi, a lovely and light fro-yo brulee and an epic cheesecake that encases gulab jamuns! Want to pick up a very special Deepavali gift? Song of India’s famous mithai (released every year with new limited edition flavours) is sure to impress.
Indian sweets gift boxes are available at $45++ (for an assortment of 3 selections of 15 sweets) and $109++ (an assortment of 6 varieties of 15 sweets).
The 4-course menu is available during lunch and dinner from 3 to 10 November 2018 at $79++ per pax. A vegetarian option is available. For reservations of the Mithai gift boxes or the Deepavali dinner menu, email email@example.com or call 6836 0055.
Song of India, 33 Scotts Rd, Singapore 228226
Stuff your face with Indian sweets
If you’ve got a sweet tooth, this is your chance to indulge! Punjab Grill at The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands has Diwali sweet boxes that are filled with traditional Indian festive treats with a gourmet twist. We’ve had our share and have already picked favourites – the alphonso mango sweet with white choco and silver foil is supreme while the lovely Darjeeling green tea and pista burfi made our macha-loving colleagues very happy. If you want to make a healthier choice, the sugarfree dates and fig sweets are chewy, chunky and energy-ball like. Check out our guide to iconic Indian sweets you can grab from Little India if you’re hooked.
Festive sweet boxes are available at $68++ (assortment of 16 sweets), $88++ (assortment of 25 sweets with savoury snacks) and $108++ (assortment of 25 sweets with 4 varieties of dry fruits)
Punjab Grill B1-01A, The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands, South Podium, 2 Bayfront Avenue. Singapore 018972. Call 66887395 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to place an order
Shop at a colourful night market at Little India Arcade
If there’s a great market happening, there isn’t much that will hold us back from diving in, but if crowds really aren’t your thing, stand back and keep enjoying those lights. Deepavali Festival village pops up around Campbell Lane and Hastings Road until 6 November 2018. It’s open during the day and continues into a night market heaving with glittering decorations, peacock feathers, festive clothing and flower garlands and stacks on stacks of treats.
Check it out from 10am to 10pm: you won’t leave empty-handed or without a traditional henna tattoo.
Visit Singapore’s most beautiful Hindu temples
The jewel in Little India’s crown is the awe-inspiring Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple on Serangoon Road. Dedicated to Kali, the Hindu Goddess of power, you can spend all day taking in its 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, which is famous for its breathtaking painted ceilings and hosting the Fire Walking Ceremony (Theemithi) the week before Deepavali. On 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 and is 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’s at least once in one’s lifetime. But if you want the inside stories on Little India and tips on where to pick up a masala dabba or copper kitchenware for a steal, who does the best eyebrow threading in town, where to get the best biryani at Tekka or feast on dosa for five dollars, our hot tip is to join a walking tour of the neighbourhood.
We’ve tagged along on Pooja Monahar’s Road to India tour (join her closed group on Facebook for details), and self-professed ‘food explorer’ Karni Tomer’s Tekka Market tour at Wok ‘n’ Stroll and come out the other side loaded with goodies and a new perspective on this pocket of the city.
Looking for ways to celebrate Deepavali with kids? Head to our sister site HoneyKids Asia for a guide to Deepavali for families.
Like this story? Check these out
The ultimate guide to Little India
What to eat when you’re holidaying in India
Surviving Mustafa Centre: A guide to help you shop well and stay sane
Photo Essay: The real Little India beyond the temples