Geylang Serai was awash with colours last night at the return of the annual Hari Raya light-up, a year after the pandemic forced it to be shelved.
Flanked by officials wearing traditional batik and face masks, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat touched a switch to turn on the light installations at the launch event in Wisma Geylang Serai.
Mr Heng, who on Thursday stunned the nation by stepping aside as leader of the ruling party's fourth-generation team, said this year's light-up had added meaning, given the challenges of the past year.
That the annual tradition could resume was a step forward in the fight against Covid-19, he said, drawing a comparison with last year's installations, which were only partially put up and left unlit due to concerns about social distancing.
"It was a difficult decision, taken to safeguard the well-being of our people," he said as he thanked the organising committee for its efforts in ensuring the light-up could go on this year with safe management measures in place.
This year's light-up is themed Celebrating Our Kampung Spirit and was jointly organised by the citizens' consultative committees of Kembangan-Chai Chee, Geylang Serai and Marine Parade.
The 40 installations stretch along Sims Avenue starting at Paya Lebar Quarter, and Changi Road and Geylang Road starting at CharisTurf.
Also present at the event were Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Masagos Zulkifli, Ministers in the Prime Minister's Office Maliki Osman and Tan See Leng, and Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan-Jin. The latter two are MPs for Marine Parade GRC.
Madam Norami Aliza Haron, chairman of the Hari Raya Light-Up 2021 working committee, said the light-up celebrates unity amid the ongoing pandemic.
"It resonates with the community because it shows that we have banded together to overcome Covid-19, and are still continuing to do so as a collective," she said.
But there were signs that normality has not totally returned.
The popular bazaar, a Hari Raya hallmark, will not be held this year again. Instead, Bazaar-Kita.sg was launched by Wisma Geylang Serai in partnership with the Singapore Malay Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Users will be able to shop for festive goodies, meals and merchandise on the online platform.
Wisma Geylang Serai has also planned more than 30 online programmes to run from April 15 to May 30, including singing performances, comedy skits and baking shows that will be streamed on social media platforms.
This year's street lighting and decorations will be up until May 23. The light-up starts ahead of the holy month of Ramadan, which is from April 13 to May 12.
The lights will be switched on daily from 7pm to midnight, with the hours extended until 6am on Hari Raya Aidilfitri.
Visitors to Geylang Serai are advised not to congregate in large groups and to adhere to all safe management measures.
Safe distancing ambassadors and volunteers will be deployed to remind visitors to observe social distancing.
Separately, the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore, Urban Redevelopment Authority, business association One Kampong Gelam and Sultan Mosque issued a joint statement yesterday.
They reminded visitors to Kampong Glam to observe safe management measures, adding that more safe distancing ambassadors and enforcement officers will be deployed in the area during Ramadan.
Those wishing to pray at Sultan Mosque are reminded to book slots through the Muslim.SG app, and take their own items like prayer mats and attire.
No communal dining or breaking of fast will take place at mosques across the island due to the pandemic.