Singapore lights up at night with colour, fire and festivities during the Festival of Lights.
What: This is a Hindu celebration that commemorates Lord Rama and Sita’s return to the ancient Indian city of Ayodhya. Legend says that it was a dark night when they came back from exile, so the townspeople lit oil lamps to help them find their way. This tradition of lighting lamps has continued, accompanied by candles, coloured lights and fireworks. Now it is more to symbolise the triumph of light over the dark.
When: The date changes every year in accordance with the Hindu calendar, but it usually falls between mid-October and mid-November. The main festival night is held on the darkest night of the month when there is a new moon.
Customs: It is customary for Hindus to clean their homes, light up a as many oil lamps and candles as they can, pray, dress in new clothes and then meet friends and family members to eat together and exchange gifts. You’ll see lights in all the windows and Hindu homes will have their entrances colourfully painted with flowers and other patterns known as ‘rangoli’.
Highlights: Singapore’s Little India comes alive during Deepavali with lights, colourful arches and bustling Indian markets selling gems, saris and spices. It is a great place to pick up fresh roti prata (flat bread), listen to the open air concert and take in all the colourful people.
Travel: Many international visitors come to Singapore for the Deepavali festivities so it is advised to book flights and accommodation early. Road travel becomes congested on all days of the festival, especially around checkpoints. Of course the streets and markets are packed with crowds too, but this is all part of the excitement and charm of Deepavali!