For readers who are unfamiliar, Serangoon road in Singapore is the hub of Indian cultural activity right from Bharata Natyam to jay walking. It is the place where Chennai expats go when they feel nostalgic about Renganathan street or some similar crowded road. This is the place in the island nation, where you are guaranteed to buy anything Indian – provisions, groceries , clothes, music CDs, puja-items, handicrafts, toiletries and so on. Here is where you will also find restaurants serving steaming Idlis or uniquely Singapore-Indian Fish-Head curries. In fact Serangoon road is usually referred to as ‘Little India’ – a microcosm of everything India but maintained at Singaporean standards.
Come Deepavali (this year it is on the 30th of October), Serangoon road becomes the epicenter of celebrations. Deepavali (or Diwali) is known as the ‘Festival of Lights’ as it symbolizes the triumph of light over darkness or good over evil. With this in mind, the whole road gets lighted up giving it a festive atmosphere. Right from ‘Tekka’, the beginning of Serangoon road, colorful and beautifully curved arches of lights with Indian motifs adorn the road.
The evenings during this season are chaotic with busy traffic as well as crowds descending to enjoy the lights and visit the Deepavali fairs. Campbell road, a narrow by-lane of Serangoon road, becomes the temporary fair grounds. Merchants (& moon lighters) display their colorful wares – trinkets, ornaments, statues, pottery, hand-looms, flowers, garlands, clothes and fashion accessories. Crowds throng these fairs, soaking in the atmosphere and shopping to their heart’s content.
The striking thing about all this is the color. Be it in the enchanting illuminations or the cornucopia of Indian cultural artifacts in the cramped festival fairs, the colors are rich, varied and uniquely describe India. This strong cacophony of colors is what I have tried to capture in my photographs below. In this cultural canvas, subtle and delicate hues don’t have a place; bold, vibrant and saturated colors are the order of the day. Get immersed & get mesmerized.
All my images are from the years I lived in Singapore. If you have recent Deepavali pictures, why not give a link to them in the Comments section below?