Never dull, Little India springs even more gloriously to life over the colourful Hindu festival of Deepavali (or Diwali), which falls in October or November. Local Hindus mark the festival by lighting oil lamps (diyas) or candles in their homes. And no wonder – this is, after all, the Festival of Lights. The festival marks Lord Krishna’s slaying of the demon Narakasura, who ruled the kingdom of Pradyoshapuram by terror, torturing his subjects, and kidnapping the women and imprisoning them in his palace. Lord Krishna destroyed the demon, and Hindus across the world have given praise ever since. More universally, the festival celebrates the triumph of light over darkness, and of good over evil.
For Hindus, Deepavali is a period of great excitement, a time to dress up in colourful new clothes, deck their houses out in multi-hued decorations, prepare festive delicacies, exchange cards and gifts, and pay respects to their elders. On the morning of the festival itself, worshippers bathe themselves in oil, then proceed to the temple to thank the gods for the happiness, knowledge, peace and prosperity they have enjoyed in the year past, and to pray for more of the same in the coming year.
If you visit Little India in the run-up to Deepavali, you may find special markets selling decorations, confectionery, garlands and clothes around the Little India Arcade and also in the open areas close to the Angullia Mosque on Serangoon Road.