SINGAPORE – Crowds flocked to Little India over the weekend for last minute shopping ahead of Deepavali, which falls on Thursday (Nov 4).
Adding to the numbers were vaccinated migrant workers from selected dormitories, many returning to the district for the first time this year.
It follows an expansion on Saturday of the community visit programme, which allows visits to Little India and Geylang Serai for up to 3,000 vaccinated migrant workers per week, an increase from the previous 500.
Shoppers could be seen packing the alleyways of shophouses along Serangoon road and the night bazaar along Campbell Lane.
Security personnel and safe distancing officers were on site to control the flow of human traffic and ensure that social distancing was maintained.
Meanwhile, Manpower Minister Tan See Leng visited the Sri Muneeswaran temple in Commonwealth Drive on Sunday, which held Deepavali prayers attended by migrant workers.
“I am glad to know that they are keeping well and are generally in good spirits,” he said in a Facebook post later, adding that he was heartened by the outpouring of support from the community to make Deepavali meaningful and enjoyable for migrant workers.
Indian national Ananda Rajan, 36, said he was happy to be able to offer prayers at the temple.
The environment safety control officer said: “It’s a different experience going into a temple because of the safe distancing measures but its good to be able to go out. I pray that this pandemic will soon be over and I can go back to visit my family in India.”
A spokesman from the Manpower Ministry said that vaccinated migrant workers are allowed to leave their dormitories for temple visits during the festive period.
Workers will be able to book a slot for their visits with buses to transport them to designated temples. They have to receive a negative result from an antigen rapid test taken on the same day.
While many migrant workers were spending their day off shopping or eating in Little India, 27-year-old construction worker Hosen Mobarak was among more than 50 workers who donated blood at the Bloodbank @ Westgate.
“Donating blood is a good deed, and I believe that this blood can save someone’s life one day,” said the Bangladeshi national.
The blood donation drive, which took place across two venues, was organised by 24asia – a migrant worker run volunteer group – and Welcome In My Backyard, a locally-run campaign that fosters interaction between Singaporeans and migrant workers.
Mr Hosen’s compatriot from Bangladesh, 35-year-old Sabbir Ahmed, said: “Everyone should donate blood if they can, it’s a beautiful thing do and it shows a person’s true generosity.”
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