V.K. SANTOSH KUMAR
With eased Covid-19 restrictions, huge crowds are expected to visit Little India during the Deepavali festive period.
The main streets of Little India are already lined with colourful lights and decorations - till Nov 13 - revolving around the theme of dance and music.
"About 80 per cent of our events this year will be physical," said Lisha general manager Abdul Raoof.
"We expect an influx of visitors and tourists coming in."
Lisha will organise a series of 12 events from Oct 1 to 22.
They include a cultural showcase of song and dance performances to be held on Oct 8 and 22 at Poli @ Clive Street. The first show involves a Tamil rap competition, which will be judged by local rapper Yung Raja.
There will also be a scavenger hunt aimed at promoting Indian traditions on Oct 8 and 15, taking participants through 10 different stations spread across Little India.
The lesser-known sides of Little India will be presented in a new festival that started last Friday. The Re-Route festival, which will run till Oct 9, comprises food walks, workshops and installations scattered throughout the area.
"I believe Little India has a lot more to offer than what most people know it for. I notice that even for tourists, they would start at Tekka Market, walk to a temple, go to Tan Teng Niah villa to take photographs and then leave," said Mr Mervin Tan, the brains behind the festival along with Ms Cheryl Sim.
The pair are founders of design studio Plus.
"So what Re-Route tries to do is open visitors to new experiences, tastes and cultures that are in their backyard. That's why we built installations and highlighted landmarks across the district."
Six installations have been built by Plus for this festival, including a 10m-tall lookout tower in Lembu Square (open space just off Mustafa Centre) and a 3m-tall gachapon vending machine that dispenses yoga balls - like a giant version of toys in capsules.
Mr Tan said the landmarks and eateries were chosen with the help of data from Singapore Tourism Board.
"They gave us a heat map that showed us where the most and least visited spots were, so we could use analytics to plan where to point visitors towards," he said.
The Indian Heritage Centre (IHC) too has come up with an exciting array of Deepavali programmes from Oct 1 to 23.
In a first for IHC, visitors will be able to enjoy the Little India street light-up from an open-top Big Bus.
IHC's other Deepavali programmes include craft workshops, cooking demos, heritage trails and evening trishaw rides.
"We want to be the festive hub in Little India for the community to come together to celebrate and enjoy Deepavali," said IHC general manager Bhavani Dass.
"As they shop in Little India, they can also come to the Indian Heritage Centre to enjoy the cultural programmes.
"We want to bring the community together once again."
Fiesta serves up more than 100 types of finger food Fans of street food were in for a finger-licking treat last Saturday, when a fiesta featuring more than 100 types of finger food was organised by the Little India Shopkeepers and Heritage Association (Lisha) as part of Little India's Deepavali celebrations.
The Festival of Lights falls on Oct 24 but the precinct is already gearing up for the festivities with events and activities, creating a vibrancy and buzz that were absent over the past two years due to the pandemic.
Tourists and visitors are the mainstay of Little India but they vanished during the spread of Covid-19, affecting businesses in the area. Now shopkeepers have perked up and are looking forward to a brighter year as people are flocking back, attracted by the slew of events and offers.
"The Mega Finger Food Fiesta at Birch Road was lip-smackingly good," said Tamil Murasu reporter Mathangi Elangovan who attended the event.
"There were 100 different finger foods that were distributed free by schools, embassies, small businesses and many other organisations.
"Some booths were very creative, offering fusion-style finger food such as paneer tacos, but even the simplest snacks were delicious. It was no surprise there was hardly any food left within two hours of the fiesta opening to the public.
"It was a great feat by Lisha, running a finger food fiesta with 100 organisations at a single venue and it duly made it to the Singapore Book of Records."