Speech by Mr Ng Chee Meng, Minister for Education (Schools) at the launch of the Indian Cultural Fiesta

Published Date: 07 April 2017 12:00 AM

News Speeches

1. It is indeed a pleasure to be here to celebrate the Indian Cultural Fiesta with all of you.

2. I am told that the different states in India representing the various Indian races, celebrate their new year by different names - Puthaandu, Vesaki, Vishu, just to name a few.

3. Many of these New Years fall around the same time, around the month of April. While the names or dates may vary, this is nevertheless a wonderful time for each of the communities to come together to celebrate with their loved ones, with hopes and aspirations for a brand New Year.

Importance of joint community celebrations

4. Most importantly, in Singapore’s context, what is unique about today’s celebration is that it is bringing the diverse Indian diaspora together to celebrate as one.

5. This unique Indian New Year Celebration was first organised here in 2010 by the members of the various Indian communities under the leadership of Little India Shopkeepers & Heritage Association (LISHA) and Hindu Endowment Board.

6. This coming together of the various Indian communities through the Indian New Year Celebrations, now known as the Indian Cultural Fiesta, has paved the way for greater cooperation and understanding. Our Indian communities, over the years, have started cultivating closer rapport with one another, attending each other’s events and strengthening their own networking. This is very heartening and go a long way to building an even more cohesive society in Singapore.

Racial Harmony

7. Indeed, racial harmony is the very foundation of our society. It is at least in part because we value racial harmony that such a joint celebration can be organised here this evening. Today we celebrate the new years of the various Indian communities. Two months ago in February, we celebrated the Chinese New Year. And two months later, we will celebrate Hari Raya with our Muslim friends. These are possible because all of us, regardless of our race and religion, are first and foremost Singaporeans.

8. Let us treasure this harmony, and continue to respect each other as Singaporeans. Let us not take this for granted, but foster in our children this sense of identity, pride and respect as Singaporeans, and imbue a uniquely Singapore Spirit in them.

9. I am also happy to have visited the exhibition earlier today, called "Bells And Rhythms" an Introduction to Indian Weddings. I was amazed at the colours and vibrancy of the exhibits and the communities they represent.

10. This celebration enables various Indian communities to not just showcase the richness of their own individual cultures, but also better understand the beauty of the other Indian cultures, including their languages and traditions. It has also helped a Chinese like me know more about the vibrancy of the Indian cultures.

11. Such interactions enable Singaporeans, of all races, to connect and build greater understanding between one another. These bonds are crucial for us to come together as a nation.

Conclusion

12. Before I conclude, I would like to thank the contributions of the various Indian communities and community organisations for making Singapore a uniquely vibrant place with a potpourri of cultures. All of you play a central role in making Singapore so special.

13. I would also like to thank LISHA for helping to spearhead this unique Indian Cultural Fiesta celebration over the years.

14. Wishing all the various Indian communities present here a wonderful and blessed New Year!

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