Full Album Available Here: Deepavali @ Little India Nov 2015

Deepavali At Little India
Deepavali At Little India

Deepavali (Also known as Diwali) is famously known as the Festival of Lights, and a major festival amongst the Indian community. A harvest festival celebrating the triumph of light over darkness, good over evil and knowledge over ignorance, the Festival of Lights is an occasion for much merriment and the crowds are out in force to soak in the festive atmosphere.

The crowds. Oh the crowds.
The crowds. Oh the crowds.

During the Deepavali period, Little India in Singapore put up massive decorative arches to usher in the new season, and a few lanes in the Little India district were closed off to traffic in order to facilitate the festive markets. Hawking wares ranging from comestibles to floral garlands, images of Ganesha and various apparel, the market streets are lined with items of incredible vibrancy, intricacy and variety. Customers and tourists alike jostle shoulder to shoulder as henna artists make human skin their temporary canvas.

Henna. Of course.
Henna. Of course.

As one of my friends remarked before, Little India is something of a caricature of India, as it is a place with an unusual concentration of “Indianness” which, while extant within its native land, is taken to extremes within the few square blocks of this particular neighbourhood. In the case of the Deepavali period, that excess is taken even further with an incredible outpouring of trinkets and other miscellany. Set against the backdrop of the incredible influx of Indian nationals who have been and continue to help build the infrastructure of Singapore, Deepavali at Little India turns out to be its own bubble of artificiality within a city that is as synthetic as it is fantastic.

A curtain of colors
A curtain of colors

Festive as the occasion may be, such markets do give one pause for thought on the nature of the celebration. Indeed, one is surely entitled to enjoy the varied traditions native to one’s culture and certainly welcome to partake the same from other cultures. Yet, even as Christmas decorations start being put up before Deepavali has passed, one cannot help but see how the ever present consumerism in Singapore permeates the festivities and makes it unclear whether one is celebrating the season or out to consume for its own sake. Perhaps the actual fact lies somewhere between the two.

Consumerism or tradition?
Consumerism or tradition?

Despite the maddening crowd so dense on the roads that cars can barely pass, there are oases of comparative quiet even in this packed area. The religious turn to the solace of the venerable Sri Veeramakaliamman temple in the neighbourhood.

Sri Veeramakaliamman temple
Sri Veeramakaliamman temple

For other more traditional merchants, life goes on. Perhaps some do still live the quiet life, despite the fast paced rat race that characterizes the Singaporean experience. That said, to all Indian readers out there and everyone else, Happy Deepavali 2015!

Life goes on
Life goes on

Full Album Available Here: Deepavali @ Little India Nov 2015

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