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Saturday, August 15, 2009

Sensational Singapore: One City, Three Fabulous Festivals


The Lion City is the place to be for an exciting three month line up of festivals, fanfare and fun -

From August through to October, visitors to Singapore will be enthralled by three fascinating festivals celebrated by the island nation's Indian, Malay and Chinese communities – each commemorating their most auspicious days in their religious calendars.

"These three beautiful festivals showcase Singapore's eclectic cultural diversity and unique heritage and it is a wonderful time to visit the Lion City and enjoy the magic each enclave has to offer at one time," said Mr CHOOI Yee Choong, Regional Director Oceania of the Singapore Tourism Board.

Hari Raya Aidilfitri (14 August – 27 September) marks the end of the fasting month for Singapore's Malay community, with celebrations to mark this occasion held throughout the historic Kampong Glam and Geylang Serai districts. Amazing street light-ups will complement the festive atmosphere with market bazaars selling everything from traditional handicrafts to must-try Malay delicacies including nasi padang and teh tarik being held nightly from 22 August – 19 September, in Kandaher Street, near Bussorah Mall and the Malay Heritage Centre.

Local concerts featuring traditional Malay dancers will take place at the Malay Village in Geyland Serai each weekend from 9pm -10.30pm, while Malay traditional handicraft demonstrations can be seen on 5 September from 9pm -10.30pm. The Malay Heritage Centre in Kampong Glam will also showcase interactive batik and ketupat weaving workshops over the weekends of the festival.

Not to be missed, is the Iftar or 'breaking of fast' at the Sultan Mosque in Kampong Glam daily (22 August – 19 September) at 7pm (dress codes apply).

Deepavali (18 September – 25 October) celebrates the triumph of light over darkness (good over evil) and is the most important festival in the Hindu calendar. Little India will be transformed into a wonderland of thousands of fairy lights lining Serangoon Road while market stalls boom with music as shoppers search for the perfect sari, accessory, or gold jewellery items from the festive bazaars lining Campbell Lane and Serangoon Road (18 September – 16 October).

The Sri Mariamman Temple on South Bridge Road also hosts the annual Thimithi (fire-walking) Festival, which will occur this year on 5 October. In a display of breathtaking devotion and faith, Hindus walk bare-footed across a four metre bed of burning hot coals to commemorate the Goddess Drupadi.

The Navarathiri Festival (19 Sep-27 September) will take place at the Sri Sinivasa Perumal Temple, Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple and Sri Mariamman Temple. Also known as the 'Nine Nights Festival', it is celebrated in honour of the Mother Goddess and her many forms.

The Chinese Mid Autumn Festival (19 September – 17 October) is celebrated on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month, however the festivities last for a month. Chinatown comes alive with dazzling street light-ups, lantern displays and bustling market stalls with mooncakes and pomelos on offer at the 250 festive stalls lining the mini-streets of Pagoda, Smith, Sago and Trengganu. Mooncakes symbolise the rise of the Chinese communities, commemorating the time when secret messages were baked within, calling the locals to overthrow the Yuan dynasty in the 14th century. These days they come in a variety of favours from traditional lotus filings through to tropical fruit, and even Bailey's Irish Cream and champagne!

Nightly stage shows at Kreta Ayer Square will entertain locals and visitors alike as Singaporeans come together to celebrate this special event focusing on family unity. The shows will take place from 19 September until 3 October from 8pm – 10.30pm and fringe events will also be taking place along Chinatown Point, the Central and Albert Mall.

Join in the Mass Lantern Walk and Celebration – a colourful procession along Eu Tong Sen Street from the heart of Chinatown to the Singapore River as the festival comes to a close on 3 October at 7.30pm

For a local walking guide throughout the various enclaves, download the details at www.visitsingapore.com/1city3fest

For further details on these fantastic events and festivals, log onto www.visitsingapore.com or follow the STB on Twitter: SingaporeOzNZ.
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