Top 15 Most Popular Holidays & Festivals in Singapore
Festivals in Singapore are a true reflection of the incredible diversity of this tiny city-state. The people of Singapore are comprised of multiple ethnicities, cultures and religious backgrounds, and the festivals across the island cater for all.
The vast Chinese community celebrate their New Year in February, Vesak Day in May is a vibrant and colourful festival for Singaporean Buddhists, and Deepavali in October is the most significant date on the Hindu calendar. Follow KnowInsider to explore the lists of most popular festivals and events right below.
|Photo: Travel Triangle|
This famous Hindu festival has to be witnessed to be believed. In a gesture of penance and seeking forgiveness from the gods, male Hindu devotees make the 3-kilometre walk from Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple to Sri Thandayuthapani Temple, laden with enormous kavadi, or portable shrines.
The kavadi is pierced to the devotees' body by spikes and skewers; it is normally borne on the body, and sometimes dragged by the devotee like a chariot. Supporters of the kavadi-bearer gather around him, chanting prayers, clapping and shouting their encouragement along the way. This fascinating, logic-defying ceremony lasts the entire day, and observers are welcome.
River Hong Bao
The River Hong Bao Festival is an annual fair that takes place at the breezy waterfront area near Marina Promenade. The fair is usually built along the theme of the relevant Chinese zodiac symbol for that coming year. Expect huge floats depicting the animals of the Chinese zodiac, as well as huge statues of the Gods of Fortune and Wisdom, colourful temples and bridges, and "cherry blossom" trees everywhere. The stalls will feature the best in arts and crafts, Chinese calligraphy, and even palm reading, from Taiwan and China. Cultural performances will be held nightly.
Chinese New Year
This is one of the most popular Chinese festivals in Singapore. Entire Chinatown comes together for a fortnight, every year, in the middle of January and celebrates what is also known as the Lunar New year. During the Chinese new-year celebration, houses are cleaned and beautifully decorated. The malls and streets are dolled up with bright red and extravagant decorations.
The Chingay Parade is the biggest parade in Singapore. Originating as a procession to mark the Chinese New Year festivities, the parade has evolved into an international event, featuring everything from Taiwanese acrobats to salsa dancers.
The atmosphere is definitely carnival-like, as the procession of dancers, gymnasts, beauty queens and children make their way from City Hall to Suntec City. You can catch them at any point along the way, although there are designated spots where the dancers and acrobats will stop to stage their performances. Look out for traditional Chinese performances, such as lion dances, alongside cultural shows from countries as far-flung as Denmark and Papua New Guinea.
Singapore Art Festival
A must for culture buffs, the Singapore Art Festival is home to ensembles, music, theater acts, international dances and art installations. With great talent to be seen and heard around for almost an entire month from May, it is among very few fests which celebrate such diverse range of art forms on one platform. This deserves to be your one of the must attend festivals in Singapore 2020.
Among the other famous festivals in Singapore, this is the local version of Eid which is celebrated after the month-long fasting of Ramadaan. This is one of the traditional festivals in Singapore. The Muslims in Singapore put on new clothes and begin their day by visiting the nearest mosque where they offer their prayers. Rest of the day is spent by visiting the friends and relatives.
As with many of the best legends, the story of Holi begins with a demon king. This particular demon king, Hiranyakashyap, conquered the earth but alas had a few parenting issues to deal with. His son, Prahlad, refused to worship him and so persuaded his daughter, Holika, to trick her brother into entering a blazing fire (knowing that she herself was immune to the flames). It turned out though that the immunity only applied if she entered a fire on her own: Holika paid the price of her sinister plot by perishing in the flames, while her brother escaped unscathed thanks to his devotion to Lord Naarayana. The name Holi is derived from Holika, and the festival is a celebration of good triumphing over evil. Bonfires are traditionally lit to represent Holika’s downfall and sticky end, while coloured powder is thrown to represent freedom and the colours of life.
Ramadan and Hari Raya Aidilfitri
The sacred month of Ramadan is believed by Muslims to be the holiest month of the year. Little known fact: fasting is much more than just abstaining from food or drink during daylight hours – it’s a commitment to the purification of the soul. This means refraining from bad habits and thoughts. Once you’ve pulled through the whole of Ramadan, it’s time to celebrate. Hari Raya Aidilfitri (also called Hari Raya Puasa) is a month-long festival that encourages forgiveness and thanksgiving. On the morning of Hari Raya Aidilfitri, members of the family seek forgiveness from their elders after prayers at the mosque, and little ones often receive green packets of money.
Qing Ming Festival
During the Qing Ming Festival, temples are fully packed with Chinese believers who flock there at the crack of dawn. Throughout the day, families wrestle shoulder-to-shoulder amidst thick smoke of burning joss sticks; their hands full with Chinese pastries and all kinds of food and incense for their ancestors. For some, Qing Ming is a trip to the cemetery where family members clean up the graves of their ancestors and offer prayers in remembrance of the deceased. The best place to observe the ceremonies is Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Temple at Sin Ming Road.
The nation celebrates its freedom from Malaysia on its National Day – the most popular among festivals in Singapore. Like all, it has a public display of its culture, heritage, defense, power, and diversity. Another special feature is the stunning display of fireworks on the eve of the day. Witness the elaborate celebrations of the Singapore National Day.
Hungry Ghost Festival
The Hungry Ghost Festival is a traditional Taoist and Buddhist festival and is one of the unique festivals in Singapore 2020. It is believed that on this day the ghosts of ancestors come out of their graves. The locals in Singapore visit the grave of their ancestors and keep food for them so that when they come out they can have food. Isn’t it interesting? The festival is also called Zhongyuan Festival or Yulan Festival.
Indian connection, folks! Singapore celebrates Diwali like nobody does it outside India. Like India, Singapore celebrates it on the 15th day of the Kartik month. Interestingly, Singapore Deepawali lasts for a week. With vivid hues of warm golden lights, the Hindu community all over Singapore celebrates the festival spreading joy and cheer. Indian festivals in Singapore are celebrated with full pomp and show.
Vesak Day is an important celebration for Buddhists as it commemorates the birth, enlightenment and death of the Buddha. Visit the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum and watch devotees bring offerings to the feet of their spiritual teachers. Take the time to do a good deed too, since Buddhists believe that doing so today will spread good karma.
Good Friday is an important religious day for many Christians and it commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. In churches all over Singapore, special prayer services are held. At the St. Joseph's Catholic Church on Victoria Street, Catholics clasp white candles in a moving procession bearing the figure of the crucified Christ.
This Hindu festival lasts the entire month of October, although nine nights are singled out as days of especial celebration. Navarathiri means "nine lights" in Tamil, and this festival is dedicated to the Hindu goddesses Dhurga, Lakshmi and Saraswathi. The event is celebrated in the various Indian temples across Singapore, where special prayers and performances of traditional Indian music and dance are held in the evenings.
The centrepiece of the festivities is at the Sri Thandayuthapani Temple at Tank Road, which for nine nights echoes with the sound of worship, dance and celebration. A vibrant procession of Hindu devotees - led by a beautiful glittering horse - is held on the tenth night.
Singapore is a melting pot of cultures, with Chinese, Malay and Indian ethnic groups comprising its sociocultural fabric. The influx of foreigners in recent times has lent a cosmopolitan image and Singapore’s lifestyle is multi-cultural. Each of the ethnic communities maintain their unique way of life and at the same time live harmoniously. Given this unique blend of cultures and people, Singapore’s event calendar is marked with holidays and celebrations all year round.
Festivals range from religious celebrations, socio-cultural festivities and sports events. if you like this article, please share it with your friends and follow KnowInsider for more interesting news.
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