Heritage association VP amps up Deepavali light-up

Report and pictures by: 
Latashni Gobi Nathan

For the last few Deepavali celebrations, businessman Gokulabalan Subramanium felt the decorations in Little India had fallen short of the colour that the festival is known for.

So this year, the vice-president of the Little India Shopkeepers and Heritage Association (Lisha) decided to take personal charge of the light-up. He decided to go back to the root of Deepavali: The celebration of good triumphing over evil. Deepavali, also known as Diwali, means “row or garland of lights”, hence the name “The Festival of Lights”.

The centrepiece of the main arch on Serangoon Road depicts Lord Krishna and his lover Radha sitting on a swing, rejoicing over his defeat of the Demon King, Narakasura.

Mr Gokulabalan, 69, said: “I came up with the concept because the image of Lord Krishna and Radha creates a feeling of peace and happiness that brings light into the lives of Indians. “I have a statue of them together and I realised that it would make for a meaningful design.”

As the jewels and crafts shop owner was not good in drawing, he got an artist to draw out his idea.

In previous years, the contractors were left to put up the decorations on their own, but Mr Gokulabalan made it a point to direct the contractors this year. “I was constantly in contact with them as I wanted to make every detail perfect,” he said.

Those who have seen this year’s lightup have given it the thumbs-up.

Ms Devaki Palanyppan, 32, a programme executive at a private school, said the lights had been dull over the past few years. “This year, they are beautiful,” she said. “The lights really bring out the spirit of Deepavali and put everyone in the mood to celebrate. You can just walk around and enjoy the atmosphere.”

Mr Gokulabalan promised that the association will continue to do its best every year. “It’s hard for us to please everybody but we definitely will try to keep up the standard and make everybody happy, even those who do not celebrate,” he said.

The article related to these pictures was first published in The New Paper on October 26, 2013.