Deepavali: Bright lights in Little India

SINGAPORE - A little girl smiles brightly as her mother chooses balls of multi-coloured lights from a stall at Little India's Deepavali Festival Village.

Six-year-old Lara Perez Mathis and her friend, Noemi Schumacher, seven, are wearing traditional Punjabi dresses and proudly showing off the intricate bindis on their foreheads and henna tattoos on their hands.

Lara's mum Conny Mathis, 45, says it has become something of a tradition to visit Little India during the Deepavali celebrations after the girls learnt about the festival in school.

“We decided to bring them here one evening in October to just walk around Serangoon Road, look at the lights and do a henna tattoo. That’s the biggest part for them,” says the Swiss housewife.

Visitors to the Festival Village in Campbell Lane and Hastings Road are greeted with an array of shimmering bangles, twirling decorations and kaleidoscopic lanterns at the bazaar stalls as they shop for Deepavali, which falls on Oct 29 this year.

But it is the light-up that draws most people to Little India. At the start of the colourful display of multi-hued lights strung across Serangoon Road and Race Course Road are two 20m-high peacocks bedecked with resplendent tails cascading to the ground.

“Peacock is a sign of good luck, to be humble and it’s colourful,” says shopkeeper Bhagwan Assudani, 65, who is awed by the bird structures.

The Little India light-up is on from 7pm to midnight daily until Nov 12. The Deepavali Festival Village, which ends on Oct 28, is open from 11am to 10pm.