If the Little India festivities seem daunting, Sophia Crasta scouts out the essential stops for your personal Festival of Lights experience, from live music to sweet treats
Traditionally celebrated by Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs and Jains during the period after the monsoon season, Deepavali is one of the brightest, most vibrant festivals in our city. While it started out as a one-day tradition, celebrations now take up two weeks. In addition to brightening the house to ward off evil spirits and visiting the temples along Serangoon Road, we’ve rounded up five traditional – and not-so-traditional – activities to engage in.
The floor art of kolam, also known as rangoli, is achieved through the sprinkling of coloured rice on the ground in geometric shapes, dots and lines to form intricate patterns. These are often set out at the entrance of houses, shops and temples to attract good luck and ward off evil spirits. Although better known for its flower garlands, Jothi Store & Flower Shop(1 Campbell Ln, 6338 7008) also sells packets of coloured rice for kolam ($6.50 per packet, available in five colours).
Add to your wardrobe
Like all other major cultural festivals, Deepavali is marked with new clothes and jewellery. From saris to the salwar kameez (a long shirt, with loose-fitting, pyjama-like trousers worn by women) and the jippa (a long, dress-like shirt for men, worn with trousers), Indian retail shops bustle with glittering displays of the latest designs and materials. Visit Stylemart(149 Selegie Rd, 6338 2073) and Tekka Market(665 Buffalo Rd) for the most up-to-date designs of this year’s festive season.
Paint your body
A new outfit isn’t complete without the application of henna on the hands. Made from the henna plant, this natural-dye temporary 'tattoo' washes off in less than two weeks. Drop by Vanessa Beauty Salon & Henna Artwork Creations (16A & 22 Buffalo Rd, 6291 0977; $10 per hand) for these henna-drawing services. While set patterns are offered for you to choose from, you can also let these henna artists work their magic on you as they please.
The sweeter side
While the ellu urundai (sesame seed balls) is known as a sweet only available during this festival, more popular favourites are the gulab jamun (buffalo milk and saffron balls), halwa (a dense, sweet dessert) and sujee (ghee, sugar and vanilla/almond bisuits). Pick up your own tastefully assorted Mithai sweets gift box at The Song of India (33 Scotts Rd, 6836 0055; $33 per box of three varieties of 12 sweets), or stop for a wider range of mouthwatering treats at Komala Vilas Sweets and Savouries(82 Serangoon Rd, 6294 3294).
Go clubbing, Bollyood-style
Finish the night by throwing a few shapes: party to the latest Bollywood hits and bhangra music at Krishz (28 Circular Rd), where dancers are added into the mix.