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Hey CBH Fam!

How have you been? Thank you for your patience while I sorted myself out since the previous post. Now I’m back and ready to rumble!

Deepavali, the most important Hindu festival of the year is upon us and I was beyond excited when LISHA (Little India Shopkeepers Heritage Association) invited me to be part of a really momentous event to kick off celebrations for 2018. Every year, all of Little India lights up in its beautiful splendour to usher in the festival of lights. 2018 is particularly special as it marks the 30th year that these lights dazzle us with their ornate decor and colours and they will stay on until the 25th of November!

Having witnessed the lighting up event from the television for years, it was really special to be at the main event last Saturday 22nd of September. Now my blog always goes unnoticed in the local circuits since plus size blogging is not really ‘popular’ here so I was pleasantly surprised to say the least when I was contacted by LISHA. It is so wonderful to be able to speak about an event right here at home and close to my heart.

IMG_0652marquee leading to the seats for the light up ceremony

Every year sees a new symbolic theme is displayed across Little India. Last year saw elephants featured in the light up and this year we are graced by the celestial swan, Annapatchi. With 2 main arches across the entry to Serangoon Road and at the Perumal temple, 62 sub-arches across the many little intersecting streets in Little India, 7 vibrant colours and 2 million LED bulbs, the light up on Saturday was a dazzling sight to behold!

Let us have a look at the activities that were happening pre-light up!

We were welcomed into the event arena with a popcorn stand, cotton candy and most importantly this reptile friend!

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Unfortunately, your girl was too chicken shit to snap a picture with the very friendly snake.. but the hubster – my official photographer – had a cute set of selfies with it!

I reserve judgement for the laughter that followed when hubster asked for the name of this yellow beauty. Mister Bean. Enough said.

Now, an Indian event simply cannot be had without singing and dancing so before the arrival of the President of Singapore Her Excellency Halimah Yacob to launch the light up, we were treated to lovely renditions of Tamil and Hindi songs from talented enthusiastic local singers.

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Before the Guest of Honour arrived, I had a look at the booths that were on display for art and sport. The first booth was aptly named Little India Heritage Play Street, featuring Indian Heritage games for all to take part in. A modified version of the famous local street marble game Goli and medieval Indian board game Pachisi (which the Western world has modified and now call Parcheesi or Ludo) can be had every 3rd Saturday of each month at Campbell Lane. Playstreet Sg is a fun initiative by Singapore Wellness Association in a bid to encourage playtime in safe open outdoor spaces for the young and old alike. I love the infusion of games from the ‘good old times’ as my dad says, back when Singapore was a rural shipping port teeming with villages and community games. Child of the 80’s here vouching for the hours wasted playing Street Fighter on the computer instead of interacting with other kids and being outdoors! The President gamely played a round of Goli when she arrived at the event by the way … very cool.

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The next booth was a sight to behold and a familiar thing of beauty to South Asians – the delicate art of Rangoli. Much like the Buddhist mandala, Rangoli/Kolam is a spiritual passion project that involves creativity, patience and a keen sense of concentration. Mrs Vijaya Mohan, founder of SingaRangoli is a multiple Guinness World of Record holder for creating the largest Rangoli pattern here in Singapore and she showcased some of her work at the booth that evening.

Us being lazier to actually take the time to create a kolam outside the home, typically purchase a plastic or stick-on version of it but there is something so ornate and compelling about the Actual work of art. For this event, Mrs Vijaya and her team creatively came up with rangolis created from clay. She has dedicated her craft to the various voluntary welfare associations or community projects and individually as a professional art therapist. You can access more of her work here. I am very motivated to create my own little kolam for Diwali this year!

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Just like the mandala, the sky is the limit with the colours and variations for each Rangoli but the designs are symbolic of what we find in flora and fauna like flowers, birds, fish or pretty creepers. The Rangoli exhibits will be featured at the POLI site in Hindoo road until the arrival of Deepavali. Project Oasis in Little India (POLI) is a wonderful nook that features art installations and cultural performances. Fret not, my non-Tamil/Hindi speaking friends : the performances are carried out with subtitles if they are not done in English! It goes without saying that if any of the booths’ pique your fancy, do head down to the places I have mentioned that will be hosting them! Also, if you find yourself travelling to Singapore a month before Deepavali – this is just a smidge of the events to soak in the spirit of the festival, if and when you come to my little red dot island!

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IMG_0664Mrs Vijaya Mohan and her wonderful team

The final booth at the event was yet another beautiful showcase of Indian art – that of sculpture and painting. The sculpture and artworks displayed were created by local sculptors from Thiru Murugan Sculpture & Arts Pte Ltd, whose work you can view firsthand as they work live at the Festival Village at Hastings Road. This will be LISHA’s exhibition at the Festival Village in collaboration with the sculptors and will be exhibited from the 6th of October to the 6th of November.

IMG_0674Meera, a Hindu mystic poet who referred to Lord Krishna as her Husband IMG_0673Lord Ganesha – remover of obstacles, patron of the arts and sciences IMG_0675Annapatchi – the Celestial Swan

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After checking out the booths and watching the live singing performances, President Halimah Yacob was welcomed to the event with a garlanding accompanied by a beautiful welcome dance by Manimaran Creations,  local Indian performing arts troupe that was formed in 1979. Lord knows I tried to snap clear shots of the dance welcoming the President but everybody else was doing the same! Check out the link to the group’s facebook page I have added above for a better look at the dance.

IMG_0708Her Excellency President Halimah Yacob, along with her husband and other distinguished guests IMG_0704I TRIED

After Her Excellency was seated, a beautiful neo-Indian classical dance was performed by dancers from local dance institution Bharataa Arts, and you can view the performance Here . As a former student of the classical Indian dance of Bharathanatyam, this was a sight for sore eyes!

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After the performance, plaques were presented to organisations like LISHA, the Hindu Endowment Board and temples. They also pooled together a $100 000 donation to help the underprivileged communities. These tokens of appreciation signify the dedication they have in serving the local Indian community and the immense support they provide for events and festivals like this one.  Mr Rajakumar Chandra, chairman of LISHA in charge of organising the various events for Deepavali gave a speech and hopes that this year’s festivities will be interactive and fun for everyone.

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After the plaque presentation, we had a little countdown to the light up and it was Glorious to see all of Little India lit up all at once!

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The lighting up was followed by a Little India Deepavali  video and another stunning dance performance by Bharataa Arts’s dancers that you can view Here.

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With that Her Excellency President Halimah Yacob took her leave and we were entertained by local Indian channel Vasantham‘s group of artists.

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As much as your girl would have wanted to sit there to enjoy the live performances from Vasantham, her chronic pains kicked in and it was time to call it a night. BUT there are so many activities and performances ahead to check out .. and SHOPPING to be had so I will be a frequent visitor to Little India over the next month and I Will have more pictures and events to talk about so Stay Tuned 🙂

Deepavali and the major Hindu festivals celebrated in Little India, Singapore are predominantly celebrated the South Indian way. As a Northern Indian who was born here in Singapore and brought up wearing paavade daavanis, watching Tamil movies on the telly every weekend, and hey now even married to a South Indian .. I have thoroughly enjoyed learning over the years the unique ways different parts of India celebrate the same festivals. So some of what I saw during this event and learnt was novel even for me. And I look forward to learning more! We may speak different languages, eat different kinds of foods and drape our sarees differently,  but ultimately we belong to one. And for that, I will always be ever so grateful for my rich cultural heritage both from India and Singapore.

Aaaand here is a picture or two of yours truly from the event

Chat soon my loves!!