LC NTU Singapore, including Soe Gon Yee Thant, IAPS ER Manager, have contributed a description of their traditional festivals, including Chinese New Year, Hari Raya Haji and Deepavali.
Singapore is a melting pot of different cultures, bringing a variety of festivals and occasions throughout the year. The four main ethnic groups are Chinese, Malays, Indians and others. Many of us in Singapore like to be a part of these festivals!
Some festivals you can find in Singapore are shown! Some of which are specific and some non-specific to the major ethnic groups 🙂
Chinese New Year
When: beginning of the spring season of the Northern Hemisphere. (Next year, it will be on 22 January 2023.)
Lunar New Year celebrations take place in January. The Chinese go house-visiting and have reunion dinners among the families and relatives. After these reunions, we get to invite our friends over (including those from other ethnicities!).
Photo Caption: My friends and I visited our lecturer’s home and did some Chinese calligraphy
Hungry Ghost Festival
When: 15th night of the seventh month (Next year, it will be on 30 August 2023)
Just as the Americans have Halloween, the Chinese have the Hungry Ghost Festival, which is a festival held in honour of the dearly departed. During the festival, it is believed that the dead return to ‘visit’ the living for the fourteen days of the festival, and these ghosts can get up to mischief if ignored. Therefore, various offerings are made – from hell money to other material luxuries like flashy cars, fancy jewellery, lavish mansions and even the latest iPhone (in paper form of course).
Hari Raya Aidilfitri (“great day of the haj” in Malay)
When: 10th day of Zulhijjah (the 12th month in the Islamic calendar)
Hari Raya Aidilfitri is a very important occasion celebrated by Muslims. The words ‘Hari Raya’ mean ‘day of celebration’. This festival is often mistaken to be the Muslim New Year but it is not. It marks the end of the month of Ramadan, which is the one month fasting period when Muslims fast daily for a period of almost 12 hours from dawn till sunset.
Deepavali (“rows of light” in Sanskrit)
When: 15th day of the 8th month (the month of Kartik) in India’s calendar. (Next year, it will be on 12 November 2023)
This is the festival where thousands of Hindu families in the city—and across the world—transform their homes into beacons of light. Doorways are bedecked with beautifully etched rangoli: pictures that are usually nature-inspired and made from flour, coloured rice or petals, plus a combo of 11 traditional leaves believed to repel bad energy. Deepavali is very much a community occasion. Visits to friends and family to offer prayers, sweet meats, and gifts are all part of the celebrations.