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Street Light-Up at Little India during Deepavali season. Image courtesy of the Singapore Tourism Board.

Deepavali means “row of lights,” and for this five-day Hindu festival Little India in Singapore becomes just that — street after street dripping with varicolored lights that signify the triumph of good over evil. Diyas (lamps and candles) are lit, as is the tradition, on the night of the new moon, the darkest night of the year.

Millions around the world take part in Deepavali, the foremost festival in Hinduism. Over the five days of festivities between mid-October and mid-November (the month of Kartika, on the Hindu calendar), Little India turns into Singapore’s top attraction. Serangoon Road is the it-place to be after hours. Colorful, intricate arches light up the night sky along the street, where tourists can tuck into fragrant Indian curry, roti prata (dough flat bread), mithai (sweets), and drink their fill of teh tarik (frothy milk tea) after perusing the bazaars’ offerings of jewelry, handicrafts, saris, floral garlands, incense, and exotic spices.

Whilst visitors mill about, Hindus clean and spiff up their homes, don on their best clothes, and offer pujas (prayers) to Lakshmi, goddess of fertility and prosperity. Fireworks are lit, and gifts exchanged with family and friends. Many decorate their doors with rangoli, a floral or geometric motif made out of petals, rice, and flour. Ornate lanterns, festive lamps, and votive candles twinkle from the inside of each home, painting a fairytale picture upon the enclave.

Shopping at Little India’s markets during Deepavali season. Image courtesy of the Singapore Tourism Board.
Stall at Little India’s markets during Deepavali season. Image courtesy of the Singapore Tourism Board.

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For other traditional New Year celebrations, visit Myanmar’s Kachin Manaw Festival and Myanmar’s Naga New Year Festival. For other festivals in the month of October, visit Vietnam’s Kate Festival; Laos’ Boun That Luang; and the Malaysia Motorcycle Grand Prix.