Spreading festive cheer through Deepavali goodies, cooked meals

Cookies and gift packs being given out to low-income families under various initiatives

Chua Chu Kang GRC MP Don Wee yesterday distributing Deepavali goodies to Choa Chu Kang Avenue 7 residents, including Ms Priya, 21, who declined to give her full name. Beside Mr Wee is Mr K. Ramamoorthy, chairman of Narpani Pearavai, the People's Association Indian Activity Executive Committees Council, which came up with the cookie-distributing initiative. ST PHOTO: GIN TAY

Boxes of freshly baked festive cookies were delivered to the doorsteps of residents of one-room rental flats in Choa Chu Kang yesterday morning.

Resident Salbiah Yacob, 87, whose late husband was Punjabi, said that receiving the pineapple tarts, suji cookies and other treats at this time of the year reminded her of when she celebrated Deepavali with him years ago.

Madam Salbiah was among 200 individuals and families who received the goodies that were meant for them to enjoy as they ring in the festive spirit of Deepavali, which falls on Saturday.

By Nov 15, nearly 2,250 low-income families islandwide will receive festive cookies as part of an initiative by the People's Association Indian Activity Executive Committees Council (Narpani Pearavai), which started distributing the baked goods to households last Sunday.

The Malay Activity Executive Committees Council is supporting the initiative as well.

Yesterday, volunteers from both councils and their youth sub-committees were joined by Mr Don Wee - MP for Chua Chu Kang GRC's Brickland ward - who distributed the cookies to households in Block 813A Choa Chu Kang Avenue 7.

Mr Wee said: "Through this, we can appreciate each other's cultures, and see how we can collaborate to uplift the lives of the underprivileged, to remain an inclusive and compassionate society."

Block 813A resident Haridass Vankadasalam, 70, said the baked goodies brought some light to an otherwise bleak year for him.

Previously a track-and-field coach in an international school, he lost his job early this year owing to the pandemic. He was also starting to have knee problems.

He switched to the security field, but works infrequently because of his growing knee pain.

"I had to ask my sisters to support me financially a few times this year," said Mr Vankadasalam, who lives alone.

The Singapore Indian Development Association (Sinda), along with its group of senior Indian business leaders, yesterday completed its distribution of gift packs to about 200 low-income Indian families islandwide. The gift packs contained personalised Deepavali greeting cards and cookies.

In the same vein of spreading festive cheer, Narpani Pearavai and the Hindu Endowments Board will be sending Indian vegetarian meals and murukku mixture snacks to about 400 low-income families in 11 neighbourhoods today. The neighbourhoods include Kebun Baru, Boon Lay and Telok Blangah.

This cooked-meals initiative is part of a monthly effort by both organisations to reach out to families who have been affected financially by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Sinda's chief executive Anbarasu Rajendran said the pandemic has made things tougher for low-income families, and many have approached the self-help group for assistance with matters such as financial aid, job security and adapting to home-based learning.

"Facing these challenges in uncertain times has also affected the mental health of many within our community. The Sinda family service centre has seen an increased number of clients this year," said Mr Rajendran.

Sinda has set aside $7 million in financial aid for use till the end of the year to further help those adversely affected by the economic situation, through schemes such as increased bursaries, cash payouts and transport vouchers.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on November 08, 2020, with the headline Spreading festive cheer through Deepavali goodies, cooked meals. Subscribe