Deepavali (or Diwali), is one of the biggest Indian celebrations of the year! Diwali signifies the start of the Hindu New Year. The actual date of Diwali is based on the Hindu lunar calendar and varies each year, usually falling somewhere in mid-October to mid-November. This year, Deepavali falls on 13th November 2012, which is marked by a public holiday in Singapore, so get in the spirit of Diwali!
Diwali is commonly referred to as the festival of lights, since the translation of Deepavali means “row of lights”. In India and in many places around the world, people light and place small clay lamps (diyas) and candles around their homes. Sweets are exchanged and houses are cleaned. People buy new clothes and give each other gifts during Diwali. This is a very festive and joyous time and people are in a celebratory mood, dancing and lighting fireworks in the streets.
Although we are not in India, where the Diwali festivities span the entire country, here in Singapore there is also a festive atmosphere in the air. Here are some fun activities you can do with your family in Singapore to get in the festive spirit of Diwali:
Take a trip to Little India. Head over to Little India where you will be totally immersed in the Diwali festivities. Little India is fully decorated for Diwali with shop and restaurant owners getting ready to start the new year. Take a stroll around and see the beautiful lights and decorations that adorn the streets. You can walk into the many shops and browse around. Make sure to wish everyone a happy Diwali; the mood will be very upbeat and cheerful.
Eat Indian cuisine. During Diwali, people cook for days in advance, usually vegetarian food, both savory and sweet food for their families. To get in the spirit of Diwali, head over to one of the many Indian restaurants in Singapore and eat a variety of flavorful foods. Afraid of too much spice, then just try some Indian sweets like mithai, gulab jamun or ladoos.
Make a diya. People light diyas, or small clay candles, during the Diwali festivities to celebrate the triumph of good over evil. Why not try making some diyas at home? Use molding clay to make the diya (or even a regular candle holder), and then decorate it with bright paints and accessories, such as sequins and glitter. Then place a small tea candle into the holder and light it up around your house. Make sure to explain the significance of lighting the candle to your family.
Go to a Hindu temple. There are many beautiful Hindu temples all over Singapore. Some temples are dedicated to specific deities, while others may have many statutes (murtis) of deities inside. Take a trip to a temple and get a feeling for the centuries old Hindu culture and traditions.
Dress up in traditional Indian clothes. Diwali is a time when people buy and wear new clothes to signify a new beginning. Get in the spirit of Diwali by dressing up in traditional Indian clothes such as saris or lengha’s for the girls, or kurta pajamas for boys.
Make rangoli art. Rangoli is decorative Indian folk art that is made to decorate houses and courtyards during Indian festivals. Various types of materials are used for the artwork including colored rice, dry flour, colored sand and flower petals. Get your creative juices flowing and making some Rangoli art in your front yard or entrance way for Diwali with your family. Even the youngest of family members can have some fun with this.
Light sparklers. All over the streets of India people will be lighting fireworks to celebrate the new year. You can celebrate by lighting some sparklers with your family outside. Maybe get some of your neighbors together and you can all have some traditional fun.
Hope you and your family have a very happy and prosperous new year ahead. Happy Diwali!
Article by SuperMommy
Neetu Mirchandani is a native Californian, but has permanently made her home in Singapore for the last five years. She has two little boys, ages 1 and 3, who are the center of her universe. Before venturing into motherhood, she was a practicing lawyer and her experience explains her Type “A”, super-organized, perfectionist persona, as it has trickled down into her everyday life as a Mommy. If being a Mommy is her new job, then being the best mommy or in her words, being a “SuperMommy” is what she strives to be.