V.K. SANTOSH KUMAR
Nearly 100 members, students, teachers and parents have come together to create displays and decorations for Navaratri at the Singapore Indian Fine Arts Society (SIFAS).
The Indian festival, associated with the legendary battle that took place between Durga and demon Mahishasura and which celebrates the victory of good over evil, has generally been subdued this year because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
But the SIFAS management has made every effort to make it vibrant and educate the younger generation of Singaporeans about the beauty, traditions and values of Indian culture.
"Most importantly this project has helped in integration between local and expat Indians," said Mr K.V. Rao, SIFAS' president. "Men and women of different ages have worked together to create a festive atmosphere and this is a fine example of community bonding and spirit."
The preparations began more than a month ago and spaces at the entrance, passageway and a hall have been decorated with kolam and rangoli drawings, figurines and a festive display of dolls, known as golu in South India.
"The adaptability and presentation quotient was up this year," said Mr Venkat Padmanabhan, SIFAS' honorary treasurer and one of the main organisers. "Families came up with ideas, parents organised schedules and groups of mothers, daughters and sons worked together to buy items and set up the displays. Some even took leave from office to help out."
The designs and artwork were all created by SIFAS teachers, students and alumni under the direction of visual arts teacher Raguveeran Palraj. Several recycled items, including paper, ribbons, shells and boxes, were used to create the dolls and figurines.
"The idea was to present tradition along with sustainable solutions and modernity," said Ms Menaka Gopalan, vice-principal, SIFAS. "We learnt a lot along the way. For some of us, there were new lessons in Indian culture."
The inauguration ceremony on Oct 17 was beamed live on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram and witnessed by nearly 2,000 people in Singapore and around the world.
SIFAS teachers, students and alumni have been appearing in a 10-minute programme of dance and music shown on these channels every day from 7pm since then. The show will continue till Navaratri ends on Oct 26.
"Even if it is Covid times, we should not give up on our traditions," said Ms Vennila Vetrivillalan, who along with Ms Jayarajan Suganthi and Dr Manisha Sarkar are coordinators for the project. "What the world needs is prosperity, peace and health and following art and traditions is one way to achieve calmness and mental strength. It has been awesome to work together as a team."