Tamil New Year celebrations will be held at home today
Devotees can tune into livestream of special pujas to mark occasion as places of worship stay closed
Hindu families celebrating the Tamil New Year, or Puthandu, today should do so at home, said the Hindu Endowments Board (HEB) yesterday.
The festival, which falls on the first day of the Tamil calendar, is usually marked by families gathering for meals and visiting temples for prayers.
This year, devotees can instead tune in to a livestream of special pujas, or prayer rituals, to mark the occasion from each of the four temples under HEB's purview. The broadcasts will be on HEB's website and YouTube channel from 8am to 11am today.
The arrangement comes as all places of worship will be closed till May 4 and social gatherings banned as part of the Covid-19 circuit breaker measures.
The start of a new year is also marked by other South Asian communities in Singapore who use similar calendars.
The Sikh community observed Vaisakhi yesterday, while the Malayalee and Bengali communities will today observe Vishu and Pohela Baishakh respectively.
For Ms Dalveer Kaur Sidhu, who observes Vaisakhi, the celebrations are very much a community affair, as it is traditional for families to visit gurdwaras, or Sikh temples, where religious and cultural activities are held.
This year, the 49-year-old housewife took to social media to keep the community spirit going amid the stringent social distancing measures.
In a Facebook video, Ms Sidhu and her two teenage sons challenged fellow Sikhs to call five older relatives and wish them a happy Vaisakhi.
"They can perform a service to old folks who are staying home alone and feeling lonely. It is definitely not the same, but we are making the best of the situation," she said.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong shared photos of the Silat Road Sikh Temple and the Sri Perumal Temple in Little India he had taken in 2015 and 2016 respectively in a Facebook post yesterday to wish the South Asian communities in Singapore a happy new year.
In a video, Manpower Minister Josephine Teo and Minister for Communications and Information S. Iswaran also extended new year's greetings to foreign workers here.
Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam also marked the occasion on his Facebook page, posting a photograph of and recipe for mango pachadi, a traditional dish served during the new year.
He said: "It (mango pachadi) is interesting because it is both bitter and sweet.
"It is meant to be a symbolic reminder that life holds all flavors of experience, not only wholly sweet or bitter, and we must go through them all.
"That symbolism has more meaning than usual at this time."