Festivals, Singapore Culture

Deepavali in Singapore: 10 Fun Facts You Need To Know

Deepavali falls on Nov 6 2018.

Be in the know as you celebrate the colourful vibrant Festival of Lights with thousands of Hindus in Singapore.



#1.           Deepavali, also known as the festival of Lights, was brought to Singapore by early Indian migrants who transported their religion, customs and celebrations to their new homeland.

The Sri Perumal Temple, one of the oldest Hindu temples in Singapore


#2.           Deepavali, Diwali or Deepawali is a Hindu festival that usually falls between late October and early November every year. Although Deepavali is a Hindu festival, it is also celebrated by Indians of other religions such as the Sikhs and the Jains.


#3.           Deepavali is the biggest and the brightest of all Hindu festivals. Deep means ‘light’ and avali ‘a row’ so Deepavali in essence means ‘a row of lights.’  For Hindus everywhere, Deepavali symbolises the triumph of light over darkness, good over evil and knowledge over ignorance.

Deepavali light-up, Little India 2018


#4.           Since the early 1900s, festivities were concentrated around the Little India, Selegie and Rochor areas. People came in search of new clothes, jewellery, flowers and decorative items for the home and ingredients to make traditional festive goodies and sweets.


Decorations for Deepavali


Decorative Garlands


Shopping for new clothes

#5.           Deepavali was declared a public holiday in Singapore in 1929.


#6.           In 1985, Little India was lit up for two weeks before the start of Deepavali.  The colourful light-up, along with a fair and vibrant cultural performances, attracted many locals and tourists alike.  Given this popularity, fireworks were added in 1999 and the light-up expanded over a bigger area.


#7.           As the crowds continue to flock in, the light-up has since become an annual month-long affair and now includes heritage exhibitions, a countdown concert and a festive bazaar. Many say the Deepavali light up, shops and celebrations quite outshines the Christmas lights on Orchard Road!

The dazzling festival bazaar


#8.           When visiting at Deepavsli, auspicious gifts to bring include figurines and statues of deities such as Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity, and Ganesha, the lord of success and remover of obstacles.  Books and candles, in keeping with the theme of knowledge and light) are welcomed, as are homeware items. A perfect Deepavali gift is a Puja Thali (prayer platter), a useful item for any prayer room. The puja thali is a plate, usually made out of copper, steel, gold, silver or brass, used to keep the accessories required during prayer rituals.

Figurines of Hindu deities

Lotus candles


#9.           What is a festival without food? Preparations for homemade (or shop bought) Deepavali sweet and savoury snacks begin long before the actual day.  One of the first sweets South Indians make is the athi resam, a puff made by frying a dough of sugar and ground fermented rice flour. This sweet is given to the goddess of the stove as an offering and to request her blessing to ensure the sweet-making process is a success. Other treats usually offered to guests include savoury, crunchy muruku and sweets such as halwaburfiladdu and semia.

The perfect snack, crunchy savoury murukku 

 Irresistible Indian Sweets


#10.        As with all religious festivals celebrated around the world, there is a spiritual significance to Deepavali. For Hindus, it is a time to reflect on life and make changes for the upcoming year, to clear out the old and negative and make way for the new and fresh. In addition to external changes, such as cleaning the home and buying new cloths, it is common practice to forget and forgive the wrongs done by others during Deepavali. The celebratory spirit of generosity, friendliness and fun is infectious and in Singapore, fills Hindus and non-Hindus alike!


How will you be celebrating Deepavali in Singapore this year? Share with us some of the things you love most about the Festival of Lights. We’d love to hear from you!