SINGAPORE - Parliamentarians often dress in sombre tones in their work as lawmakers.
But 16 female members of Parliament (MPs) ditched their regular power suits and outfits for colourful Indian saris last Friday (Oct 21), for a Tamil Murasu photoshoot ahead of Deepavali on Saturday, Oct 29.
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 coming 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 parliamentarians 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 on Sunday (Oct 23) as part of the newspaper's annual Deepavali spread, which usually features leggy models or celebrities dressed in the traditional Indian garb.
But this year, the paper approached Ms Indranee, an MP for Tanjong Pagar GRC, to ask if she could gather a group of MPs for a photo.
Ms Indranee told The Straits Times 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.
"I figured the sari (the other MPs) can do lah, Tamil might take a bit longer," said Ms Indranee, laughing.
She started gathered the group and gave them 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 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 saris, it fits literally all shapes and forms."
PM Lee Hsien Loong on Monday (Oct 24) commented on his Facebook that the MPs "all looked very beautiful and regal".