Singaporeans celebrate a number of festivals and events. Chinese, Hindu and Muslim celebrations are calculated according to the lunar calendar so dates changes from year to year.
Chinese New Year (January/February), is the most important festival of the calendar for the Chinese and it is welcomed in with dragon dances, parades and drum and gong bashing. Chinatown is lit up (New Bridge Road) and there are night markets selling mandarin and plum trees both considered lucky. It is a time for Spring cleaning and houses are redecorated for a fresh start to the year.
Chingay Procession (February) is a spectacular procession which takes place on the 22nd day after the Chinese New Year and takes place on Orchard Road where Lion dancers, stilt walkers and acrobats perform.
Thaipusam Festival (January/February) is one of the most dramatic Hindu festivals and is now banned in India. Devotees honour Lord Subramaniam by piercing their cheeks, tongue and forehead with the Vel (long needle) or slinging hooks into the skin of their backs and chests with chains with fresh limes to weigh them down (mostly men). Others opt to carry the Kavadi (mostly men), a heavy metal frame decorated with flowers and peacock feathers usually prepared by the devotee. Devotees march in procession from the Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple on Serangoon Rd to the Chettiar Hindu Temple on Tank Rd. One of the most enchanting and spell binding festivals…not to be missed.
During Ramadan (March/April), food stalls are set up in the evening in the Arab St district, near the Sultan mosque. Hari Raya Puasa (April) marks the end of Ramadan. Several days in advance homes are decorated and special cakes, dishes are prepared. On the day itself Muslims put on their best attire and visit relatives and friends. In the Malay areas, Geylang Serai is decorated with green/yellow drapes and lights for the occasion.
Vesak Day (April/May) celebrates Buddha's birth, enlightenment and death. It is marked by various events, with chanting and prayers in the temples and the release of caged birds to symbolize the freeing of captive souls. The festival is celebrated in every Buddhist temple.
Singapore Festival of the Arts (June) is one of South East Asia's biggest art festival which is held biennially. Drama, music, arts and dance performances are held by participants from all over the world.
The Festival of the Hungry Ghosts (August/September) is when the souls of the dead are released for feasting and entertainment on earth. Chinese operas are performed for them and food is offered. The ghosts eat the spirit of the food but thoughtfully leave the substance for the mortal celebrants.
Thimithi Festival (September/October) is where Hindu devotees prove their faith to the Hindu Goddess Draupadi by walking across glowing coals at the Sri Mariamman Temple.
Navarathiri Festival (September/October) is an Hindu festival of the "Nine Nights" dedicated to the wives of Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma. Nightly performances of traditional dance and music take place at the Sri Mariamman Temple and Chettiar Temple.
Deepavali (October/November),"The Festival of Lights" is one of the most important Hindu festival. Temples and streets in Little India are decorated with lights and garlands. Small oil lamps are lit in temples and homes to symbolize the triumph of good over evil.