'Feathered creatures' light up Little India

The two 20m-tall peacocks with cascading tails, part of this year's Deepavali light-up, have caused many in the area to whip out their mobile phones to snap pictures. The dazzling light-up, which includes an elephant lantern and lotus- shaped lights,
The two 20m-tall peacocks with cascading tails, part of this year's Deepavali light-up, have caused many in the area to whip out their mobile phones to snap pictures. The dazzling light-up, which includes an elephant lantern and lotus- shaped lights, lends the area a vibrancy befitting the Hindu Festival of Lights, which falls on Oct 29 this year.ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

People do not usually notice birds perched on trees along the streets. But two "feathered creatures" have been causing people to look up along busy Serangoon Road, which leads into Little India.

These 20m-tall peacocks with cascading tails, which are part of this year's Deepavali light-up, have been a marvel to behold for many a visitor and motorist in the area.

They shine blue, green, yellow and pink - along with 1.5 million LED lights in the area - to give off a vibrancy befitting the Hindu Festival of Lights, which falls on Oct 29 this year.

Besides the peacock lights, an elephant lantern and lotus-shaped lights are also part of the light-up.

Visitors on foot, bus passengers and motorists at the traffic lights in the area have been seen whipping out their mobile phones to snap pictures. Some, like photography hobbyist Tan Tong Leng, 73, went there armed with professional cameras to capture the glitz. A taxi driver by day, Mr Tan was at Little India last Wednesday night just to take photos of the lights. "I was driving past one day, and saw that they were so beautiful and elaborate. So I decided to come and take some photos when I had time," he said.

The colourful display for the festival, which signifies the triumph of good over evil, cost about $500,000 this year, as it typically does, the Little India Shopkeepers and Heritage Association (Lisha) secretariat said.

Deepavali is typically a vibrant affair, but this year's decorations have outdone previous years', said visitors and workers in the area.

Ms G. Vijayalakshmi, 37, a sales assistant at a jewel and craft store in Little India Arcade, said she has taken several photos of the light-up to send to her family in India.

"The lights this year are better than in other years; they are bigger and brighter. They really give the area a special energy," she said.

The secretariat told The Sunday Times that the total cost of this year's Deepavali celebrations, including the bazaar and events, was $1.2 million, which is funded by the Singapore Tourism Board and sponsors.

The launch of the celebrations on Sept 17 was a grand affair, with celebrities from India performing at a concert.The theme chosen by Lisha this year is that of the peacock. Peacocks are often seen in Deepavali decorations as they are associated with Hindu mythology.

The lights are likely to be reused for other events, but the set pieces, such as the peacocks, are usually discarded because of wear and tear, the secretariat said.

For other light-ups, like the ones in Chinatown, lanterns are put up for the public to take home after the event, said the Kreta Ayer-Kim Seng Citizens Consultative Committee, the organiser of Chinatown festivals. "Members of the public, associations, schools as well as business vendors in the precinct could adopt the street decor lanterns for their own decoration purposes," a spokesman said.

The Deepavali celebrations at Little India this year will be held until Nov 12, and close to three million people are expected to flock to the area during this period.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 16, 2016, with the headline ''Feathered creatures' light up Little India'. Print Edition | Subscribe