Home to numerous tribes and ethnic groups, Singapore’s event calendar is packed with celebrations and festivals. It is these festivities and celebrations that allow visitors to experience the rich culture and the way of life here. For those of you looking to enjoy these festivities, here is the list.
Thaipusam is a popular Hindu festival. Generally lasting for 2 days, the holiday is celebrated in honour of Lord Subramaniam (also known as Lord Murugan) who represents power and is considered the destroyer of evil. On the festival eve a royal chariot procession starts from Sri Thendayuthapani Temple up till Layan Sithi Vinayagar Temple accompanied by traditional dance and music performances. Performing rituals and pouring milk on the statue of Lord Murugan are the popular traditions of the festival.
Celebrated by Buddhists throughout the world, Vesak Day is another traditional festival of Singapore. The popular festival marks the birth, enlightenment and the passing away of Buddha. On the day of the festival, Buddhist temples are decorated with flags and flowers. Chanting hymns and prayers, carrying out candlelit processions and offering joysticks on the statue of Buddha are the popular traditions of the festival.
Dragon Boat Festival
Also known as Tuen Ng, Dragon Boat Festival is one of the best loved celebrations in Singapore. Falling on the 5th day of the 5th month of traditional Chinese calendar, the festival commemorates the death of the famous poet and minister – Qu Yuan. Popular festive traditions include beating of the drums, racing dragon boats, offering rice dumplings (zhang) and drinking realgar wine.
Hari Raya Puasa
Known as ‘The Day of Celebration’, Hari Raya Puasa is another important religious festival of Singapore. Falling on the 1st day of the month of Shawwal, the festival symbolizes purification. The festival begins with a trip to the mosque and is followed by other celebrations. On the day, people enjoy delicacies such as rendang, sayur lodeh and sambal along with white rice and ketupat.
Also known as Lantern festival, Mid Autumn Festival is one of the liveliest Chinese festivals celebrated in Singapore. Held on the 15th day of the 8th month of the Lunar Calendar, the festival marks the end of the autumn harvest in the country. Worshipping the moon god and offering prayers to the lunar deity Chang’e are the popular festive traditions.
Pongal is a popular harvest festival. Celebrated over a period of 4 days, the festival involves worshipping the Lord Indra on the 1st day. Oil lamps are lit and people wear traditional dresses on this day of the festival. On the 2nd day of Surya Pongal, offerings in the form of rice are made to the Sun god. On the 3rd day of Mattu Pongal, cows and other cattle are honoured and worshipped. On the last day of the festival, younger members seek blessings and good wishes from the elders in the family.
Chinese New Year
Also known as ‘Spring Festival’ or ‘Lunar New Year’, Chinese New Year is undoubtedly one of the most famous festivals in Singapore. The popular traditional festival is celebrated at the end of lunisolar Chinese calendar. As a part of the tradition, streets and markets are decorated in colour red to drive away the evil spirit ‘Nien’. Colourful processions and parades are the most popular attractions of the festival.