Little India light-up, TikTok dance challenge and five-hour show among Deepavali festivities

(From left) Reavathi Gunasekaran, Sathesh Manicam and Shamini Naidu performing a dance named “Di Di Deepavali” for a TikTok challenge as part of this year's Deepavali celebrations. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

SINGAPORE - Deepavali celebrations kicking off next week will have something for everyone even as festivities take place for a second year amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Little India Shopkeepers and Heritage Association (Lisha) will kick off its Deepavali 2021 line-up of online and hybrid activities on Sept 25. The brightest highlight will be the traditional light-up in Little India on Sept 25.

While the night bazaar remains suspended, there will be food trails, heritage tours, cooking demonstrations, treasure hunts and competitions such as a TikTok dance challenge for all races.

A karaoke challenge has already opened for entries, with a Sept 26 deadline for video submissions.

The major Hindu festival, which falls on Nov 4 this year, is also known as the Festival of Lights, and celebrates the triumph of good over evil.

For the first time, the celebrations in Singapore will feature five hours' worth of performances that will be streamed by Tamil associations worldwide on their Facebook pages.

Ranging from fusion music to talk shows with speakers from India and Singapore, the Deepavali show will be shot in Singapore, and a segment will be broadcast by Puthuyugam TV, a Tamil-language channel based in Chennai.

Lisha adviser Rajakumar Chandra told The Straits Times that the Deepavali broadcast builds on the repertoire of shows that the Lisha Literary Club had created to entertain migrant workers living in dormitories here.

The 150 online programmes had even found popularity beyond Singapore.

Mr Rajakumar said: "Surprisingly, the shows attracted hundreds of thousands of views from dormitory workers, and the programmes accidentally got out to the Indian community in about 20 countries."

At a media preview on Thursday (Sept 16), Lisha honorary secretary Ruthirapathy Parthasarathy said the festivities have been organised in the hope of keeping the spirits of the shopkeepers and the community high, even as footfall in Little India has plummeted due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

From Oct 9 to 21, visitors to Little India can also catch a contemporary spin of rangoli, the Indian art of making patterns on the floor.

Rangoli artist Vijaya Mohan will set a new Singapore Book of Records achievement by creating an artwork at Poli @ Clive Street, using 100,000 paper flowers created with the help of the People's Association Indian Activity Executive Committees Council.

Artwork by rangoli artist Vijaya Mohan on display. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

The paper flowers were made from recycled materials and contributed by more than 50 Indian Activity Executive Committees and community organisations.

The Indian Heritage Centre will also be bringing back its popular trishaw rides around Little India. They were snapped up within 10 minutes last year when bookings opened.

Noting that racial harmony has been in the spotlight this year, Mr Rajakumar, who was chairman of Lisha for 15 years, hopes that this year's activities will help visitors of all races foster a greater understanding of Deepavali celebrations.

"Before Covid-19 hit, many schools used to come here to be part of the Deepavali celebrations. They used to come see the light-up, see the goodies and buy the goodies, and that is lacking now. So we are bringing them back with our programmes."

More details can be found at the Deepavali 2021 website.

Correction note: An earlier version of the story said the light-up will be on Sept 28. It should be Sept 25. We are sorry for the error.

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