Categories: Culture

5 Ways To Experience Truly Authentic Indian Culture In Singapore

A deeper look at Singapore’s Indian Heritage

Ask any Singaporean, and they’ll tell you that Little India is the mecca of our Indian history and culture. But beyond a belly full of mutton briyani and a late-night grocery run at Mustafa, we bring you 5 unique ways to experience real Indian culture that doesn’t feature Tekka market or a meal at Banana Leaf Apolo.

1. Go on 3 new heritage walking tours through Singapore’s Indian Quarters

For the uninitiated, Little India might seem like a pitstop to sate any late night prata cravings and to hit up the mega mall that is Mustafa Centre – but there’s so much more to this 200-year-old cultural enclave than meets the eye. 

From housing one of Singapore’s oldest Hindu temples to a plethora of garland, spice, and saree traders, open your eyes to a whole new cultural perspective with a walk down memory lane when you sign yourself up for one of Little India’s 3 new bite-sized thematic routes to highlight the various facets of the precinct’s heritage.

Download the Little India Heritage Trail Booklet here.

2. Learn the basics of classical Indian instruments in a Masterclass

Source: National Indian Music Competition 

If you’ve been toying with the idea of picking up a musical instrument but don’t want to blend into the crowd of already saturated musicians, here’s something that might pique your interest.

For just $10 a session, sign yourself up for the opportunity to learn from the best of the best in the Indian classical music scene in a Masterclass that’ll familiarise you with Indian instruments like the Carnatic flute, a veena (an ancient Indian stringed instrument), and a Mridangam (an ancient Indian percussion instrument).

Sessions are limited to 50 participants each, so fastest fingers first!

NIMC Masterclass
Date: 3rd June 2017
Fee: $10
Venue: Goodman Arts Centre, 90 Goodman Road, Singapore 439053

Tickets are available via or Singapore Indoor Stadium Box Office and all SingPost outlets. 

3. Watch beautiful Bharatanatyam dancers take centre stage


For those looking for a fresh visual and musical encounter, head over to the Esplanade for an evening of Bharatanatyam, an ancient Indian classical dance form that dates back over 2000 years. 


Watch dancers as they beautifully execute the art of storytelling through dance to Indian Carnatic tunes, Japanese classical music and  even the orchestral works of Romeo and Juliet – the first Bharatanatyam work choreographed to western classical music.

Stay tuned to Esplanade Presents: Raga for more Indian performance arts events that’ll be happening throughout the year.

Natyasastram Visva Margam
Date: 16th June 2017
Fee: $25, $18 (Students, NSFs and seniors), $22.50 (Dance India delegates)
Venue: Esplanade Theatre Studio

4. Tuck into authentic Southern Indian Food all the way from Chennai

Source: @scuzzzy

Indian eating houses are aplenty in Singapore, but Indian cuisine generally comprises of a wide range of regional and traditional cuisines that originate from India itself, and many people are unaware that the majority of Singaporean Indians dine primarily on Southern Indian food and love the flavours of home cooked meals.

Thankfully for those with no access to home-cooked southern Indian meals, we’ve got the Murugan Idli Shop. Established back in 1993, this casual dining restaurant hails all the way from Chennai and serves up a true taste of Singapore’s southern Indian side with its perfectly crisp thosai and piping hot, pillowy idli (savoury steamed cake) alongside a medley of side dishes and chutneys.

Murugan Idli Shop
Venue: 81 Syed Alwi Rd, Singapore 207660

5. Get some knick-knacks from Jothi Store & Flower Shop


With humble origins as a flower and betel nut shop back in the 1960s, Jothi Store and Flower Shop is a trademark feature along the streets of Little India for its diverse range of authentic Indian products. 

Its 5-storeys cover everything from Ayurvedic medicinal items and cosmetics, to typical household objects, Indian cultural dance items and handicrafts. They even serve up paan – a traditional Indian snack made from betel leaf, lime paste, and a few other ingredients that act as a mouth freshener, aids digestion, which can be highly addictive!

It was even used as a form of primitive lipstick back in ancient India Source

A hands-on way to experience authentic Indian culture

One indisputable beautiful fact about our Lion City is how our four cultures can live harmoniously as one. It’s not every day that you’re treated to a synthesis of cultural sights, tastes, and sounds quite like this. 

Whether or not you decide to strike off every point on this list in your attempt to deepen your understanding of Singapore’s Indian culture, you’ll definitely be able to suggest some optional activities the next time someone brings up heading to Little India for dinner/supper.

2017 National Indian Music Competition – a musical extravaganza

Source: National Indian Music Competition 

If you’re looking for a way to widen your understanding of other cultures, mark your calendars and make space for the 9th edition of the National Arts Council’s National Indian Music Competition (NIMC) happening from 29th May – 4th June 2017

First organised back in 1998, the triennial music competition will see up to 140 young talented musicians this year who’ll be going up against each other in a battle of skill and musical prowess across Carnatic Vocal, Hindustani Vocal, Flute, Mridangam, Tabla, Veena and Violin categories in front of an international jury. 

Source: National Indian Music Competition

The competition also serves as a platform for for music excellence with the aim of developing the performing skills of musicians in Singapore, and identifying potential music talents in the Indian music scene. All stages of the competition are open to members of the public, so you’ll be able to follow each and every stage of the competition if you wish.

Buy your tickets to the 2017 National Indian Music Competition here!

This post was brought to you by the National Arts Council.

Kimberly Lauren Wong

A seemingly normal girl with the appetite of a baby T-Rex and a penchant for all things bohemian. Perpetually in pursuit of the best vanilla chai latte in town, you'll find her huddled in a quaint cafe with a book or fountain pen in hand, inking her way through stacks of paper perfecting the alphabet.

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