Little India, Singapore

The Sari Singapore of Little India

MRT Passengers
A Singaporean family of Hindu origin is aboard the MRT on its way to Sentosa.
Jithra Charleston, a Singaporean Indo hugs Kassandra Lee, a Singaporean friend, on Singapore's Orchard Road.
Singapore by night
Cars leave light marks on a typical and colorful street in Little India.
Hindu priests conduct a ceremony in a Singapore temple
esplanade cinema
Spectators at an open-air cinema session in Little India.
finger tomato
Singaporeans of Indian origin buy vegetables at a street stall in Little India.
last minute shopping
Indians judiciously pick tomatoes from a Little India vegetable stand.
Passerby laughs at the message of a mupi promoting Anything soda.
jithra charleston
Jithra Charleston, an Indo-Singapore proud of her Indian genetic origin, at ease in a street chair on Orchard Road.
Singaporean Indian Origin
Singaporean inhabitant displays his Hindu ethnicity with a confident and proud smile.
Saris seller
Salesman at the entrance of a Litte India saris shop.
Saris mannequins
A clothes and fabric store employee watches the action on the adjoining street.
hindu ceremony
Hindu ceremony at one of Singapore's Hindu temples
Women in gaudy saris talk on a bank of Clarke Quay.
Singapore high rises
Robertson, an Indian visitor to Singapore is photographed in front of Singapore's skyscrapers
There are thousands of inhabitants instead of the 1.3 billion of the mother country, but Little India, a neighborhood in tiny Singapore, does not lack soul. No soul, no smell of Bollywood curry and music.

Like almost everyone, the traffic light on Bukit Timah Rd allows pedestrians to earn the right to the green light.

In strong acceleration, several cars compete for the straight. Its speed does not frighten a few dozen Singaporeans of Indian origin who, instead of pressing the button, rush onto the asphalt and force drivers to skid.

We are in Singapore's Little India. Singapore's notion of fines, orderly and uncompromising falls to the ground here in this neighborhood. Even more on Sundays, when the local market takes place.

Just below, on Orchard Rd, and in this country city, in general, tolerance is different.

No Indian, Chinese, Malay or Singaporean of any other origin dares to break the law.

The punishment for unruly crossings, or jaywalking – as they are called in English and its English – amounts to thousands of Singapore dollars, a currency worth roughly half the Euro.

Sari's Singapore of Little India

When it comes to Little India, authorities surrender to the evidence. They close their eyes, as if the offenders are just children.

In the image of Mumbai, Calcutta or New Delhi, from mid-afternoon onwards, thousands of Indians fill the streets of Little India. It's mostly just men.

They arrive from all over, in truck boxes adapted for their transport. And they form human currents that flow in opposite directions.

Vegetables, Little India, Sari Singapore, Singapore

Indians judiciously pick tomatoes from a Little India vegetable stand.

They traverse, narrowly, the arcades of centuries-old buildings. They stop at spaces, buying vegetables and other basic goods, in shop stalls that smell of all the spices of Asia.

Or in front of warehouses of DVD's and VCD's, fascinated by the Bollywood hits that are shown on big TV screens.

Saris Seller, Little India, Sari Singapore, Singapore

Salesman at the entrance of a Litte India saris shop.

Litte India: From Prison to Today's Great Tamil Quarter

Little India's origins were unglamorous. According to historical records, the neighborhood was formed from a prison for ethnic Tamil prisoners, during the time when the founder and governor Stamford Raffles it developed Singapore in the service of the British crown.

Singapore from Sari, Singapore

Robertson, an Indian visitor to Singapore is photographed in front of Singapore's skyscrapers

Once its penal function had expired, the location close to the Serangoon River initially established several new cattle raisers.

As Raffles' ethnic segregation policy overcrowded the Chulia Kampong area, more and more Tamil workers found space available for their activities.

At the beginning of the XNUMXth century, they had already formed the basis of the current neighborhood.

Singapore's Political Multiethnicity

Beginning in 1959, Raffles' teachings inspired the mainstream People's Action Party (led by Sino-Singapores) to develop a policy of racial harmony that continued to compartmentalize the country.

At the time of the creation of this text, the PAP still governed. The Indian population did not have to submit, as before, to pre-defined housing and working areas.

Saris, Little India, Sari Singapore, Singapore

Women in gaudy saris talk on a bank of Clarke Quay.

As a matter of cultural heritage, however, their businesses remain where they have always been. They are supported by a vast and loyal clientele of Tamils, Indians of other ethnicities, Sino-Singapores and Western expatriates.

In addition to these, Little India also benefits from the exemplary marketing of tourism in Singapore. Thousands of curious foreigners visit it who take the opportunity to add an Indian taste to your trip

At the same time, in Little India, they manage to neutralize the feelings of sterility and superficiality too often transmitted by the city-state.

Little India: The Singapore-Adjusted Subcontinent Frenzy

Serangoon Road is the main commercial artery of the neighborhood. It houses the Tekka Centre, The Verge Mall and the Little India arcades.

Light trails, Little India, Sari Singapore, Singapore

Cars leave light marks on a typical and colorful street in Little India.

The former are emblematic places of multi-ethnicity in Singapore

especially the Tekka Center which hosts a food and food market where many Chinese vendors speak Tamil and other dialects of the India, and some Indians express themselves in Mandarin or Cantonese.

Arcades are a different case. There, Indian establishments predominate, still, in great majority, of Tamil origin. They are classic grocery stores stocked with all the products that the Indian community consumes.

Anything, Little India, Sari Singapore, Singapore

Passerby laughs at the message of a mupi promoting Anything soda.

And in which packaging from the mother country with already historic designs stand out visually.

Fabric and ready-to-wear stores also abound, almost always marked by models that are too white for the target clientele. And florist stalls selling wreaths and petals of all kinds, indispensable for the rituals of the surrounding Hindu temples.

The temples are detectable by their exuberant architecture and the eccentric imposition of their gopurams, towers filled with divine or semi-divine figures that mark the entrances.

Hindu Ceremony, Little India, Sari Singapore, Singapore

Hindu priests conduct a ceremony in a Singapore temple

Singapore. A Shared Nation. Not Always in Harmony

But, in a tiny territory like Singapore, shared by four different ethnic groups and beliefs, neither religion nor politics have managed, to date, to guarantee an immaculate coexistence.

Later, while talking with the director of Chinese origin of the Scarlet Hotel – located in the middle of Chinatown – in a provocative way, we bring Little India and the jaywalking to the fore. The reaction is immediate: “Well … those Indians … we are getting a bit fed up with their chaos …”.

Girlfriends, Little India, Singapore from Sari, Singapore

Jithra Charleston, a Singaporean Indo hugs Kassandra Lee, a Singaporean friend, on Singapore's Orchard Road.

Back in Little India, we tried to explore the issue further. We talked to Ranveer Singh, a Sikhs charismatic who justifies himself with due haughtiness: “We have our culture, the “Chinese” have theirs.

They have the Prime Minister, we have the President… We are all part of this country. It is true that they are the majority and that they have long been the rulers. But it is time they realized that they cannot demand from all Singaporeans the same asphyxiating rigor they live in…”

As if to support his claim, on a terrace next door, an audience as spontaneous as relaxed drinks weary and beer and roars with laughter after laughter, ecstatic at scenes from a comic musical set in Mumbai.

The floor is dirty. The chairs and tables are arranged without any aesthetic or geometric concern.

Outdoor Theater, Little India, Sari Singapore, Singapore

Spectators at an open-air cinema session in Little India.

We are in Little India. The neighborhood and Indians may even have little influence on the nation's destinies.

Here, Singapore smells of spice and wears sari.

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