Little India, Singapore / 小印度

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Little India, Singapore

Little India (map) is an ethnic district in Singapore. Little India is commonly known as Tekka in the Indian Singaporean community. While a rather sanitized version of the real thing, Little India retains its distinct identity without degenerating into a mere tourist attraction and is one of the most colourful and attractive places to visit in Singapore.

Contrary to stereotypes, Little India is not solely an Indian neighbourhood. Located in the neighbourhood alongside shops that cater predominantly to the Indians are Chinese clan associations, places of worship of different religions, and a variety of different business.

Serangoon Road (map) is the main commercial thoroughfare in Little India.

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Little India’s primary attraction is the district itself. Here too you can find the gaily painted shophouses that are an icon of Singapore, but now most of the Chinese signs (almost) disappear to be replaced with Tamil, Hindi, Bengali and other Indian scripts. Stores hawk saris and gold bangles, spices and incense waft in from the doorways and Bollywood’s latest soundtracks blare from every other alleyway.

Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple (map). Little India’s busiest and oldest temple, dating back to 1881 — although the present structure was completed in 1986. The temple is particularly busy on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays. Be sure to take your shoes off before venturing inside.

The most extreme thing to do in Little India is to join the festival of Thaipusam, held yearly during the full moon in the lunar month of Thai (usually Jan/Feb). Male devotees attach ornate shrines to their flesh with piercing hooks known as kavadi and walk across town in a day-long procession. The procession starts from Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple and proceeds to the Sri Thandayuthapani Temple (map).

Near the beginning of Deepavali, the fire-walking festival of *Thimithi is held, in which many male devotees walk across a platform of burning coal. Although the actual fire-walking takes place at the Sri Mariammam temple (map) in Chinatown, the procession starts at the Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple (map) and makes its way to Chinatown early in the morning where the fire-walking commences.

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