Deepavali the “Festival of Lights” usually brings with it celebratory concerts and colorful bazaars when heralded annually with great pomp and excitement.
In 2020 however, the yearly affair during one the most important festivals on the Indian calendar, was also brought to a halt by the COVID-19 pandemic.
But not for too long as the 71 years old Singapore Indian Fine Arts Society (SIFAS), the pioneer of classical Indian arts in Singapore, moved to a PHYDIGITAL platform to celebrate the festival of lights with some physical and some digital programmes.
Themed ‘Raise Your Light’, this year's celebrations embraced the connection we share with each other and brought together 11 ethnic community groups for the first time on an online ‘çonfluence’ to present Deepavali ‘Sangamam’.
K V Rao (President, SIFAS) shared that, “Sangamam, which means ‘confluence’ was truly brought alive, with myriad Indian cultural threads coming together to light up these times - as if it was one bright flame of hope”.
“What a joy it was to share these rare moments of joy - full of colors, sounds, and sights, brought under the umbrella of Indian arts this year by SIFAS,” he added.
“Each Indian association and group proved to be a colourful torchbearer of their arts, we discovered what a treasure of Indian arts we have in Singapore!”, he concluded.
Sangamam is SIFAS' parent-volunteer group and this year they put together a hybrid showcase featuring community partners, SIFAS gurus, students, alumni and parents; held both onsite and online.
‘Raise your Light’ was a three day festival of music and dance performances, with activities such as murukku making competitions and an art exhibition as well.
The overall concept of Deepavali Sangamam by SIFAS was simple but distinctly unique in that it collaborated with various Indian community organisations to showcase their distinctive heritage, culture and art.
Puneet Pushpakarna (VP Publicity, SIFAS) said, “I am really delighted to see SIFAS Deepavali Sangamam this year! Celebrated over three days, we got to witness performances by our very talented Gurus, students, alumni and parents”.
“It was very heartening to see that the entire community came together for this inclusive celebration! My thanks to all the participating Associations and our partners for their support in sharing the passion for promoting the arts and the artists”, he added.
The Singapore Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SICCI), Singapore Indian Development Association (SINDA), Little India Shopkeepers’ and Heritage Association (LISHA) and Pravasi Express were the supporting organisations while AKT, Kannada, Telugu, Maharashtra, Bengali, Gujarati, Malayalee, Tagore, Khalsa, Kodava and Soorya organisations of Singapore were the participating organisations.
It brought together the ethnic community groups in Singapore on a digital platform starting November 21 2020 with Deepavali Sangamam programmes at SIFAS showcased LIVE on its Facebook page from Friday to Sunday, 27 to 29 November 2020.
This event marks the first live programme at SIFAS Stage since Covid-19, and was held as per the rules of 80 persons allowed per day.
SIFAS also ensured compliance with the COVID-19 guidelines and social distancing measures by limiting the audience to the onsite performances and showcasing them online.
“From darkness into light, we welcome a new path towards better health, safety, hope and joy for all to experience”, the SIFAS team stated as it welcomed all to join them online to watch and enjoy Deepavali Sangamam 2020.
Rituparna Sengupta, celebrated Bengali Actress who resides in Singapore was the guest of honour. “Singapore is home to me… and for many years I have been commuting between my work which is in India and here where my home is…”, she said.
She added that SIFAS has always been that organisation which has inspired; stimulating culturally while aspiring creatively in every possible way.
During the planning and organizing period, more than 100 people came together, including parent volunteers under Sangamam, SIFAS management committee, staff, teachers, students, alumni, and the community organizations’ representatives and performers as well, to make Deepavali Sangamam 2020 a success.