SINGAPORE - The first Singapore Festival of Hinduism which runs until Nov 29 aims to give Hindus and others an insight into a major religion practised by more than 200,000 devotees here.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the festival is being held entirely online. It features 23 events covering topics like yoga, health and fitness, music and dance, temples in Singapore and temple etiquette.
Organised by Hindu Centre Singapore, the festival is endorsed and supported by the Hindu Endowments Board.
Speaking at the virtual launch of the festival on Nov 20, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Edwin Tong said religious communities play prominent roles in Singapore's diverse society.
He said: "Living in a multicultural society presents us with the opportunity to celebrate cultural and religious festivities together as Singaporeans.
"It also requires all of us to make a conscious effort to reach out and deepen our understanding of people, beliefs and practices outside of our own ethnic and religious communities. This will always be something we need to continue to work hard at."
Mr Tong said everyone has a role to play in strengthening Singapore's social harmony, which forms the bedrock of the country's strong society.
Calling upon community and religious organisations to work in partnership with the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY), he said: "Together, we can create more opportunities for interfaith sharing with the wider Singaporean community."
He also highlighted how the pandemic has changed the landscape of worship for religious communities in Singapore and overseas.
"In Singapore, our communities have stepped up over the past months. They have led by example, making adjustments to their activities, and rallying Singaporeans together during these very trying times," he said.
He cited how Sri Mariamman Temple in Chinatown had worked closely with MCCY and the police to make adjustments so that the annual Hindu Firewalking Festival could be held with safe management measures in place while maintaining its traditions.
He had visited the temple to observe preparations for the festival, which took place from Oct 4 to Nov 5.
He said: "This has not been easy for us but I am encouraged by the unwavering support from our religious leaders and organisations for their effort in keeping their places of worship Covid-safe.
"It is through our collective effort that we can progressively resume even more activities and bounce back stronger from this pandemic."
More information on the festival can be found at this website.