Indian Festivals in Singapore

The aroma of Indian culture, tradition and festivals has surpassed the nation’s paraphernalia! And this time it’s Singapore!

History says that Hinduism crept into the mainland of Singapore due to the immigration of the Southern India, mainly the Tamils. This reshuffled the existing culture of the nation and a perfect blend of tradition, which had stints of Hinduism incorporated within it came into existence. Like the Indian subcontinent, Singapore soon got its multi secular status.

This region has some very identical Indian temples (nearly in the sense, they are built in the Dravidian style of architecture). One can clearly imagine the mass of immigration, with the large number of Hindu temples all around the place. The “gopurams”, paintings and murals give the feeling of being in India even in a far away land. Hinduism at Singapore is mainly limited within the culture of the Southern Dravidians or the Tamils.

Singapore gets more colorful and vibrant during the celebration times of Indian festivals: Deepavali, Thaipusam, Pongal and Navrathri. What makes the celebration more unique is the eagerness, happiness and interest with which these are celebrated at a place far away than the own country. Unless and until you get the experience of celebrating any of these festivals at Singapore, one can’t figure out the exceptionality of these celebrations at Singapore.

Deepavali: It isn’t just the “festival of lights” when you are at Singapore! Indian communities at Singapore light sacred lamps for a month. Oil lamps are lit and people seek the blessings of Goddess Laxmi for ushering bliss to the family in terms of health, wealth and prosperity. Festive shopping, colorful streets and new clothes clad people move around the market celebrating the festival.

Thaipusam: It is one of the most important festivals celebrated by Tamils and Indians at Singapore. Blessings are sought from Lord Murugan. Devotees follow stringent procedures for pacifying their God, like piercing of face, tongue and body parts. In a general practice kavadis (semi circular wooden or metal arches) are pierced to the bodies of the devotees with spikes and hooks. The word “Thaipusam” is derived from two different words: “Thai”, the name of the month which is January/February in the English calendar and “pusam” meaning full moon. The festival is celebrated in the month January/February in a full moon day. People have a belief that any rituals performed during “Thaipusam” makes them cured from all sorts of diseases. Meditation, fast, prayer is done throughout the day. 

Navrathri: It is one of the heavily celebrated rituals in India. At Singapore, the rituals and practices are same as that of the Indian culture and devotees worship Goddess Laxmi, Durga and Saraswati ardently for nine days. Prayers and fast are the important aspects of this festival. And the tenth day is celebrated with much pomp and show: it is the win of good over evil. Goddess is placed on a wooden chariot and paraded all around the temple for being victorious against the demon king Mahisasura.
 
This brief review of Indian festivals at Singapore is all about the global acclamation of the rich Indian custom in a foreign land!

Chinese New Year in Singapore

Introduction to Chinese Lunar Festivities
Chinese New Year is based on lunar calendar.  It has become extremely popular and widely celebrated festival across the world because of the increasing Chinese populations.  In Singapore also, this Spring Festival is celebrated with traditional fanfare from the first to the 15th of the first month of Chinese calendar.

Rituals and Practices
Chinese New Year not only marks the beginning of the Chinese calendar, but is also a symbolic renewal of many household practices and accounting.  Therefore, in line with the traditional practices, Chinese communities use the occasion of Lunar New Year to ward off ill-fortune and welcome good luck.  It is also marked as an occasion for get together and the reunions. 

Get Together
Chinese communities across the world try to be at one place with their relatives and friends to enjoy these festivities. “Hong Bao”, the little red package containing the money is provided to the youngsters and children in the house and is considered the special attraction of the festival and a symbol of blessing from the elders. 

Reunion Dinner
Reunion Dinner is another symbolic practice, which is held on the eve of the Chinese New Year, where some delicious Chinese and Cantonese dishes are served among the families.

Music and Red Lanterns
During the New Year festival season, the entire city of Singapore is enlivened with traditional Chinese music, display of red lanterns and Chinese and Cantonese food stalls in many neighborhoods.

Celebrations in Chinatown and Kreta Ayer Square
Chinatown is the hub of the New Year celebrations, where the street light ups, all night markets, and the stunning declaration creates a high-energy festive mood.  The fire eaters, lion dancers, strange umbrellas and dance troupes of girls offer amazing and unforgettable entertainment at Kreta Ayer Square.

Dragon and Lion Dances
Folklore are the central theme of the entire festival and that is the reason you will see dragon and lion dances as part of the festival.  It adds cheerfulness and festivity, as both these characters are an inherent part of Chinese mythology.

Festivities at Chingay Parade
In Singapore, the heart of the celebrations is Chingay Parade.  This parade displays magicians, fire eaters, floats, and dancers.  The venue for the parade is Formula One Pit Building in front of the Marina bay waterfront.

River Hongbao
This is also a remarkable event of the Chinese New Year held in Singapore on the Marina Bay floating platform.  It also displays red lanterns, games stalls and fireworks in the second and third week of February.

Huayi Festival
Held at the Esplanade Waterfront Promenade, it is also another event celebrated in the month of February.  This is actually a celebration to mark the distinguished and elegant Chinese arts.  Displaying both traditional and contemporary arts, including music, opera and theater and visual displays from the prominent Chinese artists, it is an occasion to a heartwarming celebration to honor the creative artists.

So, Chinese New Year celebrations in Singapore are actually an opportunity to have a deep insight into the Chinese culture and traditions as a good omen to start the prosperous New Year.  It also presents you with an occasion to enjoy some of the best Chinese cuisines.