Diwali in Singapore: President Tharman hosts his first Deepavali open house at The Istana

Indian-origin Singapore President Tharman Shanmugaratnam, who was elected recently with a landslide margin of votes, hosted thousands of people at his first Deepavali (aka Diwali) open house at The Istana yesterday.

Singapore President Tharman Shanmugaratnam and First Lady Jane Ittogi with Indians in Singapore, including members of the music group Team Fusion, at the Deepavali open house. Photo courtesy: Facebook/Priyajit Ghosh

report by The Straits Times put the number of visitors at 15,000. President Tharman and his wife Jane Ittogi personally greeted visitors during the day. Cultural programmes representing the multicultural character of Singapore were also organised.

Tharman praised a Chinese-Indian fusion performance by flautists Tan Qing Lun and Ghanavenothan Retnam. “It’s an example of how we can take part in others’ cultures — respectfully learn the intricacies of each others’ cultures, and enrich our own identity as Singaporeans,” he said.

Other performers included Team Fusion, a group of Indian-origin Singapore-based artistes who presented a medley titled ‘Musical Regale’.

Even within the Indian community in Singapore, there are sub-cultures. Highlighting this, the Indian-origin president spoke of the trilingual performance — in Tamil, Malayalam, and Hindi — of the Singapore Indian Fine Arts Society (SIFAS) at the Deepavali open house.

“That is the way we do things in Singapore — coming together for each of our festivities, and seeking to understand the meaning of each festivity,” said Tharman.

He added that this was the way in which people became “more and more Singaporean” in their identities, and “not just by saying the pledge and singing the anthem”.