While there are various legends (the common one in the South is that it started because of the death wish of Narakasura, a demon obsessed with ruling the world battled with Vishnu aided by Mother Earth who eventually killed him was that he wanted to commemorate his death with mass festival of lit oil lamps and shining lights) that inspire Deepavali, it is basically the celebration of good over evil, and light overcoming the darkness. The festival usually falls in the month of October or November.
In the ancient language of Sanskrit, Deepavali literally means “rows of lights”, which is why Deepavali is also fondly known as the ‘Festival of Lights’, and a “Festival of Lights” it is! The streets of Little India are artfully decorated and lit up in psychedelic bright festive colours symbolic to the Indian community, such as gold, green and purple. Stalls are also decorated with wares such as fragrant flowers and wreaths usually used during prayer, traditional oil lamps and ostentatious sarees with bewilderingly intricate brocade patterns and occasionally glittering gems that have been painstakingly sewn by hand.
If you want to bask in the richness of the Indian culture, sit at one of the roadside coffee shops, order a teh tarik (tea with milk froth) and watch as harried last-minute shoppers and merry-makers cycle or even dance by. Chances are that most of chic little stores skirting this historically rich enclave will be playing famous songs from Bollywood and Kollywood movies. While you’re taking everything in, this creates an experience that is different from anywhere else in Singapore.
Dates to note:
• Deepavali Celebrations - 23 Sep to 7 Nov 2010 (TBC)
• Switch-On -Ceremony – September 2010
• Utsav, Street Parade - October 2010
• Deepavali Countdown Concert – November 2010
• Deepavali – 5 November 2010