Feasts, dazzling lights, historic temples and two bustling markets. 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 27 October 2019. 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 10 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.
The Song of India adds a homely touch to modern Indian cuisine, yet presents it with savoir faire that’s fit for a Maharaja. Pan-seared foie gras accompanied with mango coriander chutney, soft awadhi lame kebab and lemon chilli lobster in kerala moily sauce can be found on its non-vegetarian Degustation Menu.
Song of India’s famous Indian sweet gift boxes (released every year with new limited edition flavours) is sure to impress. You can get an assortment of 4 varieties of 20 sweets at $69+ and if you have a sweet tooth, then an assortment of 6 varieties of 30 sweets at $89+ will be sure to please.
The 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.
Punjab Grill B1-01A, The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands, South Podium, 2 Bayfront Avenue. Singapore 018972
Shop at a colourful night market at Little India Arcade and eat at Little India’s first hipster bazaar
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 26 October 2019. 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.
Also, check out the inaugural Deepavali Hipster Bazaar at Tekka Lane (similar to the Hari Raya Baazaar), there will be over 30 stalls serving up Indian fusion food till 26 October.
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.