Remarks by Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister of Economic Policies Heng Swee Keat at the Deepavali 2022 Light-Up Ceremony on 16 September 2022.
Minister Indranee, Mayor Denise Phua,
LISHA Honorary Secretary R Ruthirapathy,
MediaCorp CEO Tham Loke Keng,
Ladies and gentlemen,
I am glad to see that preparations for Deepavali are in full swing, starting with the wonderful performances that we have just seen.
Deepavali signifies the triumph of good over evil, light over dark. COVID-19 has been a dark and difficult two years. But we have finally emerged into the light. The pandemic has turned endemic. It has not fully blown over, but we are learning to live with the virus. We are resuming normal activities, including coming together physically in large groups with minimal restrictions, like today. So, this year’s Deepavali light up has added meaning, as we reflect on our journey over the last two years.
I am told that the festivities have already began, with a street fiesta featuring more than 100 types of finger food last week. The fiesta attracted huge crowds, and I am sure that the festivities will gather even more momentum in the weeks ahead. There is not only the annual bazaar, but also a Deepavali Festival Village and other activities. And I am told Little India is gearing up to receive 5 million visitors over the next two months.
In Singapore, Deepavali is not just a celebration by our Indian community. In our multicultural society, this is an occasion for neighbours and friends from across all races and nationalities to come together as a community, as we are doing today. It is an occasion for us to celebrate our diversity and unique identity, to strengthen our bonds as a people. It is an occasion to reaffirm our commitment to build a harmonious, multi-racial and multi-cultural society. Doing so requires us to stay open to people from around the globe. In a world that is more fragmented, we must resist the forces of division.
I hope all Singaporeans, especially our youths, continue to deepen your appreciation and understanding of different cultures. This way, Singaporeans can be like universal travel adapters. We can plug into and connect with different communities in different countries, strengthen partnerships with people from around the world, and play a useful role in creating a better global future.
Deepavali is also an occasion to spread the festive joy. LISHA is collaborating with LTA for Deepavali designs to line the sides and floors of public trains and buses. The Indian Heritage Centre, which is in Little India, will be offering exciting gaming tours, where participants can explore the streets to understand the history and heritage of the precinct. LISHA is partnering SINDA to raise funds for the needy through the Project Give Programme. The Hindu Endowment Board and its supporting temples will also be raising funds for the President’s Challenge. Together, we can make Deepavali a Festival of Joy for everyone in our community.
The Deepavali light up at Little India is a tradition that has gone on for nearly thirty-five years. This is possible because of the generous contributions of the many volunteers, residents, partners, and sponsors. Long may this tradition continue, as we continue to build stay united as a people, celebrate our diversity, and build a brighter future.
Let me wish everyone a Happy Deepavali.
Annaivarukkum Deepavali Vaalthukkal.
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