The big Deepavali dress-up

Parliamentarians often dress in sombre tones in their work as lawmakers.

But 16 female Members of Parliament ditched their regular power suits and outfits for colourful saris last Friday, for a Tamil Murasu photo shoot ahead of Deepavali this Saturday.

The Festival of Lights is celebrated by Hindus across the world to mark the triumph of good over evil, and light over darkness.

To celebrate the upcoming occasion, the MPs wore saris that ranged in colour from verdant greens to rich tones of red.

Posing in front of Parliament House, the 16 women - who included veteran MPs such as Senior Minister of State for Finance and Law Indranee Rajah and newer MPs such as Ms Cheryl Chan and Ms Cheng Li Hui - lit up the Central Business District.

A picture of the group first appeared in Tamil Murasu yesterday as part of its annual Deepavali spread, which usually features leggy models or celebrities dressed in the traditional Indian garb.

But this year, the newspaper approached Ms Indranee, an MP for Tanjong Pagar GRC, to ask if she could gather a group of MPs for a photograph.

Ms Indranee told The Straits Times yesterday that she felt it was a "very nice way" for the MPs to connect with the Indian community, adding that the sari was a cultural symbol that could be shared with those of other races.

"As one of the Indian MPs, I thought it would be a very nice way of connecting... because Tamil is very hard to learn but a sari is much easier to wear," she quipped.

She gathered the group and gave tips on where to buy their outfits.

Wishing all Hindus a happy Deepavali, Ms Indranee said: "It's really nice in Singapore that you can do this. It really says something about our multiracialism and the fact that we can be united in so many ways."

Many of the MPs, including Ms Rahayu Mahzam and Ms Sun Xueling, bought their saris from the Tekka Market or Little India area.

Ms Rahayu, who jumped at the opportunity to wear a sari for the first time, said: "I learnt that there are actually more than 50 ways to put on a sari."

Ms Sun, who is eight months pregnant, picked up her sari from Tekka Market last Friday morning just before the photo shoot.

She said: "At first, I was a bit hesitant because I wasn't quite sure I would be able to fit. But I realised that's the amazing thing about the sari - it fits literally all shapes and forms."

Watch a video of the MPs in all their finery http://str.sg/4fjM

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 24, 2016, with the headline 'The big Deepavali dress-up'. Print Edition | Subscribe